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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

President Trump's immigration veto reaches the Supreme Court

Por Damian

The battle over the immigration veto of US President Donald Trump comes this week to the Supreme Court, which will have to decide whether the president exceeded his powers and tried to discriminate against citizens of Muslim countries. Next Wednesday the Supreme Court will hold a hearing to study the case, although it will not issue a sentence until June.

In question is the legality of the third version of the migration veto, designed to indefinitely hinder the entry to the US of the citizens of six countries with Muslim majority (Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen) and that includes restrictions for citizens of Venezuela and North Korea.

It all started in the campaign for the 2016 elections, when a radicalized marriage perpetrated an attack in San Bernardino, California, and Trump took the opportunity to promise a "complete and total block" to the entry of Muslims into the United States, in order to stop jihadist terrorism.

"Until we can determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it represents, our country can´t continue to be the victim of the horrendous attacks of people who only believe in jihad and who do not reason or have respect for human life", Trump said then.

Only a week after coming to power, Trump proclaimed through an executive order his first veto, entitled: "Protecting the nation from the entry of foreign terrorists".

The decree came into effect immediately and sparked chaos around the world: families who were unable to board their flights to the United States, massive demonstrations at airports and lawyers camped at the arrival stations to advise those who were held in custody while passing through customs.

As a result of that order, 700 travelers were stopped at airports and 60,000 visas were temporarily revoked, according to data from the State Department.

That first veto was blocked in the courts and, faced with the difficulty of defending it before the courts, Trump proclaimed on March 6, 2017 a new version, which set a restriction of 120 days for refugees and 90 days for residents of six countries (Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya).

After several judicial setbacks, that veto received the green light from the Supreme Court, which allowed the Government to restrict the entry of those who had no close family in the United States.

The restrictions were temporary and, when they expired in September 2017, Trump proclaimed his third veto, which included for the first time two countries without a Muslim majority: North Korea and Venezuela, where the restrictions only affected some officials and their "immediate family".

Once again, it was the Supreme Court that allowed the implementation of that third version of the veto last December.

The measure prevents the entry into the US of the nationals of five Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya) that had already been included previously. Trump also brought Chad, mostly Muslim, but this month the White House announced its exit from the "black list" due to the security improvements in the African country.

After a long road, now it is the Supreme Court's turn to resolve two questions: Does the president have the power to proclaim immigration measures or does it belong to Congress? Does the Government violate the clause of the Constitution that protects religious freedom by directing its veto against Muslim citizens?