A major legal battle has been unleashed as a consequence of the temporary US travel ban enacted by President Donald Trump on January 27. The ban prohibits people from 7 countries from entering in the USA for a period of 30 days and freezes the issuance of new visas to these same areas for a period of 90 days. It finally prevents any refugee from entering the USA for 120 days. The ban is aimed at b Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan.  Are excluded from the ban foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, C-2 , G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas.

The ban was enacted in an haphazard manner initially as it has been acknowledged by John Kelly Secretary of Homeland Security. Major faults in the initial roll out was the inclusion in the ban of Green Card holders and dual citizens. Kelly has clarified that the ban was not a surprise inside Homeland Security and that they participated in drafting it and still defends its necessity.

The ban was immediately met with protests outside of major US airports, as well as legal action which resulted in a federal judge halting deportation of those detained at US airports as a result of the new executive order. Eventually all these people (about 100) were allowed enter the country. The ban is based on law  212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) which states: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.” The President himself had cited this law during a presentation to the National Sheriffs Association where he defended the ban.

The Ban Suspension and the Current Appeal

The ban was suspended after about ten days by a ruling of District Judge James Robart, from Washington state. The case was brought before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and was heard on February 7th with the state of Washington/Minnesota arguing in favor of the halt and the Department of Justice arguing in favor of reinstating it. A deliberation from the Appeal Court is expected today and many believe the case will go all the way to the Supreme Court.

The appeal hearing revealed a heavy politicization of the issue, a spirited debate and a weak legal preparation on both sides. Around the ban a massive legal movement has begun which involves the AG’s from 17 states, over 100 tech companies fighting the ban and the Administration contesting the broadness and applicability of the temporary restraining order. The defense from attorney representing the Department of Justice during the hearing was lackluster and he even went ahead in proposing a compromise on the content of the order itself.

This approach has been criticized by those that see the matter an open and shut case and see the eventual confirmation of the ban because of its legislative foundations and precedents. What’s unprecedented is that many companies from Silicon Valley are willing to fight for their life in opposing this ban. They rely heavily on highly skilled labor coming from overseas and they already prepare themselves for further tightening of immigration policy overall.