The Department of Homeland Security said it “will continue to faithfully execute our country’s immigration laws and treat everyone we encounter humanely and with professionalism” after a 5-4 Supreme Court decision upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban from several Muslim-majority nations.
The case Trump v. Hawaii argued that religious discrimination was behind the ban on travel from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Previous iterations of the ban included Iraq and Chad, which were dropped from the list by the administration.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the ban is “expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices.”
“Plaintiffs argue that this President’s words strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance, in violation of our constitutional tradition,” Roberts wrote. “But the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself.”
In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that “the majority here completely sets aside the President’s charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant.”
“That holding erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the court elsewhere has so emphatically protected, and it tells members of minority religions in our country ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community,'” she added.
The DHS statement said the ruling “confirms the legality of these critically important executive actions.”
“It is the duty of the government to ensure that those seeking to enter our country will not harm the American people,” DHS continued. “While we have the most generous immigration system in the world, it has repeatedly been exploited by terrorists and other malicious actors who seek to do us harm. President Trump’s executive actions take important steps to protect the American people by allowing for the proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.”
In a statement issued by the White House, President Trump, who initially tweeted “Wow!” to the decision, called the ruling “a tremendous victory for the American people and the Constitution.”
“The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the president to defend the national security of the United States,” Trump said. “In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country. This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”
“As long as I am president, I will defend the sovereignty, safety, and security of the American people, and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interests of the United States and its citizens,” he added. “Our country will always be safe, secure, and protected on my watch.”
Lawmakers opposed to the ban, as well as those who brought legal action against the travel restrictions, said the next step in their fight would be trying to get a block from Congress.
“The final chapter has not yet been written, and the president would be mistaken to interpret today’s decision as a greenlight to continue his unwise and un-American policies. The travel ban is atrocious policy and makes us less safe and undermines our American ideals,” said former Acting Solicitor General of the U.S. Neil Katyal, who led court arguments for the opposition. “Now that the Court has upheld it, it is up to Congress to do its job and reverse President Trump’s unilateral and unwise travel ban.”