Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center
Today’s Supreme Court decision on President Trump’s travel and refugee executive orders will have disastrous consequences for travelers from Muslim-majority countries and refugees worldwide. The Court, in agreeing to hear oral argument on the matter in October, ruled that the administration’s entry bans may resume for travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and any refugees who do not have demonstrable ties to the United States. The Court upheld injunctions of the ban only for individuals with an existing “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."
As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day next week, this ruling betrays our country’s founding values and obligations to offer refuge to people fleeing persecution. It turns a blind eye to the xenophobic and racist statements President Trump has recklessly and persistently made throughout his campaign and tenure as president. It suggests that by invoking the magic words “national security,” he is authorized to run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution, immigration laws passed by Congress, and our core values as Americans.
As a result of this ruling, affected travelers and refugees seeking to come to the United States will languish in limbo for months – if not years – to enter. Refugees will be forced to remain in refugee camps and life-threatening situations. People who have family members, job offers, academic appointments, or acceptance letters from schools in the United States should be permitted to come, but even these individuals will face new evidentiary burdens in order to establish travel eligibility. Travelers’ and refugees’ applications will be evaluated by government officials abroad, with minimal opportunity to appeal and limited access to judicial review if their entries are denied. This decision creates as many questions as it answers, and it will be left in the hands of administration officials to interpret and apply the standards the Court announced today.
Americans must not allow ourselves to be misled by xenophobic rhetoric cloaked in false fears over “national security.” Neither should our highest Court. America must not close our doors to the world or abdicate our role as a leader in refugee protection. The Court’s resurrection of the travel and refugee ban is shameful. NIJC will work with our partners throughout the country to convince the justices to take the correct course and strike these bans down completely.