The Orange County Register | Supreme Court ruling on travel ban sparks fear, frustration — and joy — in Southern California

Muslim Americans in Southern California described the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to allow a temporary, partial version of the Trump administration’s travel ban as disappointing and “irrational,” but noted that until the issue gets a full hearing later this year it’s unclear how it will play out.

The ruling was also met with a chorus of bravos from Trump supporters who say it will make America safer, with additional vetting of who gets in and who doesn’t.

Both sides are gearing up for what’s next.

“It’s basically saying, ‘We want to discriminate against Muslims’ because (Islam) is a dangerous religion,” said Mustafa Umar, vice chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella organization of over 80 mosques and organizations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

The ruling says Trump’s ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries can be enforced on would-be immigrants and tourists who do not have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States, such as a spouse, close relative, employer or enrollment in a university.

These details also sparked criticism from some in the local Muslim community, who described the rules as non-sensical.

“How does having an American husband or an American mother-in-law change someone from being dangerous to not being dangerous?…Either they’re dangerous or they’re not,” Umar said. He called the unsigned opinion “unethical and irrational.”

The ruling “completely disregards the Islamophobic motivation behind the first executive order,” said Farida Chehata, an immigration attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Selin Yildiz Nielsen, co-founder of Globally Connected, a Riverside nonprofit that teaches English to refugee women, described the ban as dangerous.

“The blatant discrimination of the people from certain countries is causing people in this country resentment and deepens the cultural divisions.”

On the other side of the debate are groups who oppose illegal immigration, many Republicans and even some apolitical people who fear that certain foreigners, including refugees, are willing to commit acts of terror on American soil.

“This is a great day for our country,” Robin Hvidston, of the anti-illegal immigration group, We the People Rising, wrote in an e-mail.

Hvidston’s Claremont-based group plans to initiate a nationwide “thank you” letter writing campaign to President Trump.

“The Supreme Court upheld today the rule of law, which gives me hope for the country,” said Fred Whitaker, chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County.

For now, it’s unclear if the ruling will spark the sort of mass protests that hit many U.S. airports and other venues in the week when the Trump administration rolled out the first of its proposed travel bans.

The American Civil Liberties Union will monitor the implimentation “very closely” at Los Angeles International and other airports throughout the state, said Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants’ rights for the ACLU of California.

“I think the potential impact is that there is confusion around what the court meant in terms of who the stay (on the travel ban) applies to and who it doesn’t,” Pasquarella said. “That could sew chaos again like we saw initially with the implementation of the Muslim ban.”

The outcome will depend on how the Supreme Court ruling is interpreted, such as when someone has a qualifying family member or relationship with an entity in the U.S., how the authorities interpret that, and who counts and who doesn’t, Pasquarella added.

The ACLU is among the groups that have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the International Refugee Assistance Project and others challenging Trump’s travel ban executive order, contending that it violates the U.S. constitution and federal law.

Local organizations that aid refugees said the ruling will affect even those who are in the pipeline to come into the United States, especially from countries such as Syria.

“This would severely limit those people to apply for a refugee visa,” said Glen Peterson, of the World Relief office in Garden Grove.

There were 18,007 Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. from October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2016 — most came from 2015 to 2016, Peterson said. By comparison, in 2015 and ’16, Canada received 40,000 Syrian refugees.

Omar H. Noureldin, vice president of the advocacy group Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in Los Angeles said the ongoing legal challenges and subsequent back and forth is extending the drama, a conflict that he said “makes Muslims and American Muslims in particular feel they are not welcome.”

“Each time, it creates a little bit of new trauma in the community and in the psyches of American Muslims,” Noureldin said. “It creates a sense of isolation.”

It’s also a reminder that Trump, and many of those who support him are, in his view, hostile toward Muslims, Noureldin said. He said it signals that the U.S. is ceding its role as a welcome place for people of all backgrounds from around the world.

Sahar Muranovic, whose Iranian sister Sara Yarjani was initially denied entry at LAX in January under the travel ban despite having a student visa, called Monday’s Supreme Court decision “very disappointing.” A second incarnation of the travel ban removed Iraq from the list of countries specified in the order.

“The entire ban bothers me. Even people from the administration have said it’s just a watered-down version and basically the same as the first version,” said Muranovic, who has a green card and lives in Oregon, via text.

While Congress could vote on legislation to repeal the travel ban, they have not held a single hearing to discuss the matter, Muranovic said.

“Congress could put an end to all this,” she said. “But I don’t have my hopes up.”

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