Despite the arrival of summer, a slight chill settled on Queens after the Supreme Court ruled this week that a limited version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban could be implemented.
The decision, which was unsigned, allowed a weaker version of the original ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect within days until the justices weigh in on the case in October.
The nation’s highest court acted on the highly charged issue during the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Fitr, which Trump refused to celebrate even though his predecessors had marked the end of Ramadan in the White House for at least 20 years.
As the Supreme Court partially backed his order targeting the Muslim countries, followers of the religion were observing the holiday as “a time of forgiveness.”
This was not lost on Queens’ Muslim community, which has been faced with rising bias incidents since Trump took office. Security has been beefed up around mosques and elected officials have held seminars to instruct the community about their rights if confronted by federal agents threatening to arrest them.
Under the revised order, visitors from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will not be banned from the United States, but must have what the court called “a bona fide” connection to obtain visas, which means having a job with a U.S. company, close relatives living here or a spot in an American university.
The experts are debating the impact of the ruling, which is not expected to produce the chaos that enveloped Kennedy Airport in January, when some Muslim travelers were detained, a few were sent back home and lawyers rushed to JFK to provide free legal aid. The New York Immigration Coalition will have attorneys available this time as well.
Business travelers could be caught up in a web of red tape as the Trump administration fine-tunes its vetting process and lawsuits are likely to come regarding just what constitutes a “bona fide” relationship.
But beyond the details, the message is loud and clear that people from certain Muslim countries do not have the same status as other immigrants when waiting at the gates to the United States.
Trump’s Islamophobic comments about Muslims, such as “they’re sick people,” smack of the religious discrimination that prompted several lower courts to reject his travel ban on constitutional grounds.
We are hopeful that the nine justices will conclude in October that Trump’s campaign to discourage Muslims from entering the United States is a violation of our founding fathers’ vision of a nation where freedom from religious intolerance was meant for everyone.