The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the controversial “travel ban” on nationals of seven countries elicited a quick response by UMBC’s administration.
In a 5-to-4 decision split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court determined that President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation 9645 did not violate U.S. law. The executive action, signed into law last year, restricts entry into the United States from seven countries to varying degrees. The affected countries are Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen; Chad, which was on the original list, had its travel ban lifted prior to the Supreme Court decision.
The travel ban was originally challenged by the state of Hawaii and other individuals, who asserted that the latest ban’s limits on travel were tainted by anti-Muslim animus and were not justified by national security concerns alone. Five of the seven affected countries are majority-Muslim; however, the restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela were not objected to. The move follows legal challenges to President Trump’s previous two travel bans, which had solely targeted Muslim-majority countries.
Not long after the Supreme Court finalized their decision, David Di Maria, the Associate Vice Provost for International Education, sent out an email to the UMBC community with updates and commentary on the decision.
The email, which noted that the decision “allows for indefinite restrictions on entry of nationals from designated countries,” reiterated UMBC’s commitment to “inclusive excellence” and “global engagement,” adding, “As affirmed by the University System of Maryland, we will continue to recruit, welcome, and support students, faculty, staff, visiting scholars, and researchers of all national backgrounds.”
Chief Justice John Glover Roberts Jr., who delivered the majority opinion on the case, acknowledged President Trump’s contentious comments on his desire to instate a “Muslim ban,” including his previous statements that called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Nevertheless, Chief Justice Roberts also said that “the issue… is not whether to denounce the statements… it is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive.” He added, “The text says nothing about religion… [there is no sufficient evidence to] support an inference of religious hostility, given that the policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks,” concluding that the White House showed a “sufficient national security justification.”
As Di Maria mentioned in his email, however, many higher education leaders disagreed with the Supreme Court’s judgment, reflecting the divisive nature of the issue at hand. It was also noted that while the Supreme Court had affirmed the legality of the President’s executive action, it did not rule on whether the policy is wise.