ACLU Immigration Director Says Ultimately Travel Ban Will Be Struck Down

Jun 26, 2017
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Supreme Court has decided to allow parts of President Trump's travel ban to go through. Foreigners from the six mainly Muslim countries who do not have any ties to the U.S. will not be able to travel here. It's a temporary decision until the court hears the case in full, which will happen this fall. Omar Jadwat is the director of the Immigrants' Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing the Trump administration over the travel ban. He joins us now on the line. Thanks so much for being with us.

OMAR JADWAT: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: How do you understand the decision today? What will be the practical effects here?

JADWAT: Well, I think in practical terms, this really narrows the ban that the government was trying to put into effect. So anyone who has a family member who's in the United States who they're trying to come to visit, anyone who's got a business relationship, a job, a student position that they'd like to take up, a conference that they've been invited to - anything like that, those people will still be able to come, notwithstanding today's decision, or under the terms of today's decision.

So it's important to recognize that even though a small part of the ban was allowed to go forward, I think in practical terms, most of the people who stood to be affected by the ban will still be allowed to come in. So you know, I think it's significant that the court decided to take - to allow only this limited portion of the ban to move forward at this time. And of course, you know, the ultimate question about whether any of this is lawful or constitutional at all, it...

MARTIN: Remains to be seen.

JADWAT: ...Still remains to be decided. And all the court so far that have looked at it have - you know, there's kind of an overwhelming consensus among the courts that this cannot withstand that sort of scrutiny.

MARTIN: When - you were the one - you successfully argued in front of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the ban is religious discrimination - was your argument and thus unconstitutional. But does the court's decision today to allow this temporary stay, to allow parts of the ban to go through - does that suggest that your argument might not be persuasive?

JADWAT: I don't think so. I think it - you know, it simply suggests that the court engaged in a kind of balancing analysis at this stage about what they understood to be the interests on each side of the question about just whether this temporary suspension will be allowed to go into effect with respect to any group of people. But...

MARTIN: But it's essentially deciding that the president - his argument is correct, that the president was saying there's a national security emergency. And we need to put this ban in place. And the court is essentially saying, OK, you can have parts of it.

JADWAT: No, I don't think that's what it says because if the court had really agreed that there was a national security emergency and that that emergency justified the ban, then, you know, today's decision would have been much broader. I think that the - what it really reveals or indicates is that these questions are still very much live, that they haven't been decided about, you know, whether the ban is constitutional or not.

And again, you know, it's very clear, if you look at our law and our history, that the courts have stood in the way repeatedly of efforts by government officials to try to single out any particular religion for disfavor. And the only way - throughout this whole litigation, the only way that the government has been able to - has really tried to defend the ban is by saying, you have to ignore everything that the president said about why he was doing it and live in a kind of fantasy land that doesn't really reflect reality. And I think that at the end of the day, that is not, obviously, a line that the courts have gone down - a road that the courts have gone down. It's not one that I expect the Supreme Court will ultimately go down either.

MARTIN: So this is a wash. Is this a win for your case, a loss for your case or a wash? I hear you saying it's just neutral...

JADWAT: Well, it's round one. We've - you know, there's a tiny - in the Supreme Court, there's a tiny sliver of the ban remaining after round one. And I think, ultimately, we'll be taking the rest down.

MARTIN: Thank you so much for your time, Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants' Rights Project for the ACLU. Thank you so much.

JADWAT: Thanks very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.