On Monday, December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that President Trump’s latest immigration travel ban against eight countries can take full effect, despite two ongoing legal challenges in lower courts. Six of the eight countries are Muslim-majority: Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The two other countries are North Korea and certain citizens of Venezuela. The lower courts ruled that travelers who had a “bona fide” relationship to the United States, such as grandparents, could still come in. The latest Supreme Court order overrides these lower court rulings. By allowing the travel ban to be fully enforced now (equivalent to a temporary stay from lower court challenges), some legal analysts believe it portends that the Supreme Court is likely to uphold the ban’s merits at a later date.
The latest ban does allow certain exceptions to travelers from the eight countries on the list. For example, student exchange citizens from Iran can still travel to the United States, albeit under enhanced scrutiny. Somalis may also visit the U.S. under enhanced scrutiny, but will no longer be allowed to emigrate.
In essence, the Supreme Court is waiting for a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Seattle and the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond to issue their verdicts within the next two months. The losers of those verdicts are expected to appeal to the Supreme Court. If those cases are heard by the Supreme Court, it is anticipated that a final ruling on President Trump’s travel ban will be made by the end of June 2018.