What Does the Supreme Court’s Recent Travel Ban Decision Mean for Immigration?

  • Jul 25 2018

On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court held that the Trump Administration’s “travel ban” was constitutional. The Court stated that the ban, which barred the entry into the United States by travel visa of people from predominantly Muslim countries, was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the [Immigration and Nationality Act].” This ruling has potentially significant repercussions for immigration in many different respects.

First, the standard of review the Court used in the case, which means the standard the Court says a government action must meet in order to be held constitutional, was the rational basis standard. Generally, when the government acts on the basis of nationality or religion, courts will assess whether that action is constitutional using toughest standard of scrutiny, called strict scrutiny, under which the government must prove that its action was the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling government interest.

However, the Court did not consider the religious or national origin aspects of the case, rather seeing the case as a debate over the limits of presidential power, and in light of this the Court used the rational basis standard. Under the rational basis standard, government action is upheld when it is rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Consequently, it is likely that future presidential immigration actions will also be held to this standard. This is the lowest standard of scrutiny that the government must satisfy, as there is a broad range of interests that could be considered “legitimate” under this test. National security has historically been a powerful legitimate interest granting the government power to enact immigration and other restrictions.

Moving forward, this decision will likely impact foreign nationals coming to the United States for immigration, educational, or even tourism purposes. The President, for example, has spoken often about the threat of MS-13 gang members, and at least one observer has noted that this could form the basis for a temporary ban on immigration from El Salvador. The Administration has previously claimed that gang members are using the asylum system to enter the country, so it is not implausible that the President could use this legal victory to implement a temporary ban on immigration from El Salvador, where the gang is known to have a presence.

Although the Court’s decision likely means that tougher restrictions on immigration are forthcoming and will be upheld, immigrants still have constitutional rights in the United States, as do all noncitizens in the United States. An example of one of the biggest rights immigrants and other noncitizens have is that they cannot be deported without a hearing, given the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.

Need an Immigration Attorney?

The Supreme Court’s recent decision means the future is uncertain for many immigrants and families who are simply trying to pursue a better life. If you or your family have immigrated to the United States and are unsure about what this decision means for your ability to stay in the United States, do not hesitate to contact Talamantes Immigration Law Firm, APC, today. Talamantes Immigration Law Firm, APC, provides skilled and experienced assistance to individuals, businesses, and families struggling with immigration law matters and is ready to help you.

Posted in: Deportation Defense, Immigration Law