Washington: President Donald Trump’s contentious travel ban expires Sunday with little clarity over whether America’s door will reopen for travellers from six majority-Muslim countries. Based on the policy, US embassies or representatives in Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen should resume granting visas to their nationals planning to visit the US for work, study, pleasure or to emigrate.
But some think the Trump administration, determined to stick to his election promise to block Muslims from the country, will extend the 90-day ban at least until the Supreme Court can rule on it next month. Omar Jadwat, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who has argued against the ban in court, said politics, not national security, would likely decide the issue.
“The animating principle for the government throughout has been, the president wants a ban, the president wants to ban as many people as he can, as many Muslims as he can, and we’re going to do what we can to make that possible," he told AFP. “I think that’s how we got to where we are now."
The ban—which initially included Iraq and was accompanied by a 120-day block on all refugees—sparked a political uproar when Trump first announced it on 27 January, a week after becoming president. The ban was frozen by courts after a weekend of chaos at airports and a barrage of lawsuits by immigration advocates and civil liberties groups.
The administration’s stated reason was national security: the need to ensure the six countries have adequate vetting procedures for travellers, so as to prevent terrorists from entering the country. But critics alleged that it amounted to Trump’s promised “Muslim ban" which courts agreed was unconstitutional because it discriminated against a single religion.
Several states also sued to block it on grounds that it prevented legitimate visa holders, family members, US residents, students in universities and foreign workers for US companies from entering the country.
After losing challenges in appeals courts, on 6 March the White House unveiled a revised ban, excluding Iraq and exempting people who already had visas. Nine days later that, too, was frozen, by a judge in Hawaii, for largely the same reasons as the original. Again, the administration lost in two appeals courts, leaving Trump furious and turning to the Supreme Court.
On 26 July, the high court ruled to partially lift the freeze on the ban, while agreeing to hear the White House’s appeal to lower court rulings in October. Trump declared a political and legal victory and shut down visa issuance for the six countries.