Trump Travel Ban Upheld

Ellison, others react to ruling

June 26, 2018 - 9:41 am

WASHINGTON (WCCO/AP) -- The Supreme Court has upheld President Donald Trump's ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries, rejecting a challenge that it discriminated against Muslims or exceeded his authority.

The 5-4 decision Tuesday is the court's first substantive ruling on a Trump administration policy. In his majority opinion Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: "[Trump's order] is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion."

But opponents say the fact that Muslim-majority countries, like Somalia, are included is evidence enough that it is discriminatory.

"This is his intent, this is what he wants to do with this particular provision," said Minnesota's Fifth District Congressman Keith Ellison on CNN. "And the Supreme Court majority ignoring that is simply ignoring precedent, ignoring the truth of what the president was trying to do."

Ellison is the nation's first Muslim elected to Congress, and is stepping down from that post to run for Minnesota attorney general.

Those criticizing the ruling say it will go down in the same ignominious history with the Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson and Korematsu v. United States decisions that upheld racism. They include lawyers and legal experts, as well as Christian and Jewish faith leaders and local Muslims who gathered at the Council on American-Muslim Relations Minnesota chapter headquarters in south Minneapolis to speak out, saying protests and voting in the fall are critical.

"What I take from this opinion today is that it's wrong," University of Minnesota law professor Benjamin Casper Sanchez said. "It's as wrong as Korematsu, the Japanese internment decision. It's as wrong as any decision the United States Supreme Court has made."

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor references the sordid history of the Korematsu decision, which upheld Japanese internment camps during WWII. "By blindly accepting the government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one 'gravely wrong' decision with another."

The ruling is being hailed as major victory for President Trump, and the power he holds to appoint justices. At the same time, some, like Sotomayor, don't see that as a good thing.

"As immigration lawyers, we have great concern for the erosion, and we believe, the intentional erosion, by this administration of an independent judiciary," Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota executive director John Keller said. "We think the Supreme Court missed a great opportunity today to reassert itself as a co-equal branch of government."

Asma Mohammed with Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment, says immigrants don't take the decision to come to the U.S. lightly.

"The people who want to be able to travel to the United States today only want to come to escape rape, murder, war and enslavement," she said. "No one leaves home, unless the other side looks a lot better. I'm not disappointed in this decision. I'm disgusted by it as an American."

Ben Walen with the Minnesota Council of Churches says the ruling should also upset Christians.

"When we welcome a stranger, we welcome Jesus," he said. "And when we welcome Jesus, we welcome the Creator. Refugees, immigrants, those yearning to be free, those are the ones who Jesus spoke about when he said, 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

CAIR-MN Executive director Jaylani Hussein estimates nearly three-quarters of Minnesota Muslims hail from Somalia, which is included in the ban, and almost all of them have family still there.

He says the only waiver that CAIR-MN is aware of at this time is for 4-year-old Mushkaad Abdi, who was separated from her mother.

Attorney General Jeff Session said of today's ruling: "Today is a great victory for the safety and security of all Americans." Hussein says that likely won't be the case for American Muslims.

"We believe there will be another uptick in anti-Muslim bias crime in the country and here in Minnesota," he said. "People's expression of hate is being validated by the Supreme Court's decision today.

Republican Congressman Jason Lewis has said in the past about the travel ban that Americans expect the government to properly vet those who wish to do us harm.  

Fellow GOP Congressman Tom Emmer said it was wrong to call the travel ban a religious test.