Expect Muslim Travel Bans to End in January 2020, Under Biden Administration

November 7, 2020 In the Biden Plan for immigration, the President-Elect has pledged to immediately reverse the Muslim travel bans, stating that “prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong."

** LEGAL UPDATE **

Over the four years of the Trump Administration, Donald Trump issued a series of Executive Orders outlining country-specific temporary restrictions on the issuance of visas. These travel bans purported to restrict entry to the U.S. by nationals of certain countries based on three criteria, namely whether:

  • their country had reliable identity documents and shared identity management information with the United States
  • their country shared relevant national security and safety information with the United States, and
  • their country posed a national security or public safety risk.

Many people observed, however, that the countries chosen were in most cases largely populated by people of the Muslim faith, while many non-Muslim countries were left off the list despite seeming to fit the criteria. Hence the collected orders are often referred to as the "Muslim Ban." A federal court of appeals in the Fourth Circuit, for example, found not only that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution, but observed that it “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination."

The legality of Trump's travel bans were challenged in court on multiple occasions. In response, the Trump Administration rewrote the bans more than once, adding restrictions and deleted others, and carving out exceptions and waivers. (These waivers were, however, virtually impossible to obtain.)

While the lawsuits were ongoing, the Supreme Court partially upheld the travel bans in 2018, stating that they come within the President’s broad powers over immigration and national security. The Court also stated that the President “lawfully executed his broad discretion” to prevent the entry of noncitizens whose entry would “be detrimental the interests of the United States” because of the security risk posed.

Nevertheless, the lawsuits aren't over. Both advocates and many judges continue to look skeptically upon these country-based or “Muslim” travel bans.

With the November election of Joe Biden, however, the situation could change rapidly. In the Biden Plan for immigration, he has has pledged to immediately reverse these travel bans, stating that prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure.”

Because these bans were instituted by Executive Order, the next executive can immediately undo them, potentially within days of taking office on January 20, 2021.

Effective Date: November 7, 2020