On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of President Trump in Trump v. Hawaii, 5-4. This was one of the most highly publicized cases the Supreme Court looked at this term. In addition to the immediate importance of its ruling, this case will also have lasting implications.
The immediate and perhaps most obvious result of the Trump v. Hawaii holding is that the travel restrictions created by President Trump’s September executive order have been found to be constitutional. This means that travel restrictions from that order can now take effect for nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The restrictions prevent most immigrants, refugees and visa holders from these countries from entering the United States. A waiver program is available on a case-by-case basis. Applicants who cannot afford an attorney to assist with the waiver process will likely face extreme difficulties trying to immigrate to the U.S.
Besides the more immediate impacts of the ruling, there will also be some long-lasting impacts as well. This case sets two major precedents for future Supreme Court cases. First is the precedent that it is a lawful exercise of the president’s authority to suspend entry of aliens abroad for purposes of national security. Second is the precedent that this order, and presumably future orders, do not represent an unconstitutional breach of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause as long as they are not motivated by religious animus on their face. These precedents are extremely important to keep in mind, since all similar future cases will be governed by this case law.
In addition, this ruling gives some insight into constitutional doctrine regarding immigration. This case serves to reemphasize the vast powers and discretion the president holds over immigration matters, as granted by the Constitution and statute. Congress has granted broad enforcement power to the president under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The decision in Trump v. Hawaii also serves to demonstrate the Supreme Court’s continued adherence to the plenary powers doctrine. The plenary powers doctrine essentially states that the legislative and executive branches have the sole power to regulate all aspects of immigration as a basic attribute of sovereignty. Immigration issues are largely immune from judicial control. This opinion shows a continuation of the Supreme Court’s historically hands-off approach to immigration; instead deferring to the other branches of government.
This decision has crucial impacts on both present and future immigration cases.
If you have questions on this or other U.S. immigration matters, be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law today!