Supreme Court travel ban ruling: Which countries, what does it do, which justices voted for it?


The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that President Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from several predominately-Muslim countries is legal.

Writing for the court’s majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that the president has statutory authority to make judgments about national security issues when it comes to immigration and that Trump’s authority to “suspend entry of aliens into the United States” is not unconstitutional.

The ruling on the travel ban, the third iteration of a Trump campaign promise, applies to travelers from five predominately-Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

While the ban affects two countries that are not predominately Muslim -- North Korea and Venezuela -- those countries were not part of Tuesday’s decision.

Chad, also a predominately-Muslim country, was originally on the list of countries whose citizens were banned from coming to the United States. Chad was removed from the list in April. Trump said Chad had improved “its identity-management and information sharing practices.”

What is the travel ban, what does Tuesday’s ruling mean and who voted for it? Here are a few answers to those questions.

What is the travel ban?

The current version of the ban prevents immigrants, refugees, and visa holders from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. Certain members of the government of Venezuela and their immediate families are also banned from entering the US.

This policy was issued in September and has been in effect since December when the Supreme Court ruled the administration could go ahead with it.

Who voted for the travel ban on the Supreme Court?

Those voting the travel ban is constitutional were Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Each of those justices was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court by Republican presidents.

Those dissenting in Tuesday’s decision were Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Each of those justices was nominated by Democratic presidents.

What countries are on the travel ban?

Here are some fast facts on each of the five predominately-Muslim countries included in the ban.

Iran: 

  • Iran is the world’s fifth-largest petroleum producer. The country produces about 4.1 million barrels a day. 
  • It has 158.4 billion barrels of crude oil reserves -- the fourth largest supply in the world.
  • Iran has one of the largest armed forces in the Middle East with an estimated 534,000 active military personnel and 400,000 active reserve military personnel. 
  • Iran’s capital and its largest city is Tehran, and the president of the Islamic republic is Hassan Rouhani. Ali Khamenei is the country’s supreme leader.
  • The country has the largest concentration of Shia Muslims in the world. Around 93 percent of the 80 million people who live in Iran are Shias.

Libya:

  • Libya, with a population of 6.2 million, sits on the northern coast of Africa. Its capital is Tripoli and the head of the country is Mohammed Yousef el-Magariaf.
  • Libya's economy is almost entirely dependent on oil and gas exports. The country has an average daily production of  879,000 barrels.
  • Citizenship in Libya is by descent only. You are a citizen only if a parent or grandparent was a citizen of Libya.
  • Immigrants make up just over 12 percent of the total population, according to UN data.
  • Ninety-six percent of the population is Sunni Muslim.

Syria:

  • The country of more than 18 million has been embroiled in a civil war for the past seven years.
  • Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad has been accused of horrific crimes against his people, including attacks with chemical weapons in an effort to knock down the resistance. 
  • The country is 87 percent Muslim (Sunni 74 percent and Shia 14 percent).
  • Damascus is the capital.
  • You can only be a citizen if your father was a citizen. If the father is unknown or not a citizen of Syria, the mother must be a citizen of Syria for her child to gain citizenship. 

Yemen:

  • Yemen sits on the Arabian Sea between Saudi Arabia and Oman.
  • It is a mostly desert country.
  • Ninety-nine percent of its 28 million residents are Muslims -- roughly 65 percent are Sunni and 35 percent are Shia.
  • The prime minister of the country is Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr.
  • The country is dependent on oil and gas resources.

Somalia:

  • Somalia is on the eastern coast of Africa. Its capital is Mogadishu, and its leader is Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
  • It is an incredibly poor country.
  • The life expectancy in Somalia at birth is 52.8 years.
  • The country is known as the home of terrorists including a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and aI-Shabaab, a core al-Qaida affiliate.

Sources for information on countries: The CIA Factbook

Why is Venezuela on the travel ban list?

Trump’s ban bars certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate families from entrance into the country, but not the country’s citizens at large.

According to the September order signed by Trump, “Venezuela’s government fails to share public-safety and terrorism-related information adequately.” In other words, since Venezuela’s government won’t help with information on its citizens, then government officials won’t be allowed into the U.S. Regular citizens can gain entrance to the U.S. 


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