WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) – President Trump took a victory lap Monday after the Supreme Court allowed most of his proposed travel ban from Muslim countries to take effect as it considers whether the policy overall is constitutional.
Calling it "a clear victory for our national security," Trump said the court's action "allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective."
As the court waits to hear arguments in the high-profile case – one of Trump's major policy priorities – the justices lifted injunctions that had been in place on travelers from six countries where the majority of the population is Muslim.
Trump may bar people from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen if they have no "bona fide" relationship to people, families, or entities in the U.S. Visitors who do have such a relationship are to be let into the United States, the court said.
Groups that had sued over the order called the proposed ban an unconstitutional attack on religion.
While the Trump administration said initially that the measure would only temporary, Trump did not address that in his victory statement.
"As President, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm," Trump said. "I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive."
The travel ban, revised by the Trump administration in March after a flurry of lawsuits and protests, was supposed to apply to apply to the six Muslim countries for 90 days and to all refugees for 120 days. It is not known how the new Supreme Court order will affect those time limits, which would likely expire before the justices render a final decision on the policy.
In his statement, Trump said he was "particularly gratified" the court's decision was 9-0. However, there is no way to tell if the decision is truly unanimous, as the court issued a "per curiam" opinion that no one signed. In fact, three justices did register dissents on the grounds that the entire travel ban should have gone into effect.
The original ban, announced a week after Trump took office, led to protests nationwide and chaos at the nation's airports, including detentions of at least 746 people because of confusion over how to enforce the policy. Overseas, an unknowable number of people were not allowed to board flights en route to the United States. The initial ban also applied to seven countries, including Iraq; it was removed when the Trump team revised the ban in March.
The revised ban now in effect allows travelers with green cards and visas to continue entering the United States, but not refugees.
Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, said the impact of the court's decision will fall on "the most vulnerable of the world’s populations, including refugee women and girls, survivors of violence and torture, and refugee children." Schwartz said, "there is no reasonable national security justification for these measures."
Like the president, Trump administration officials declared victory.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "the threat to our national security is real... It is crucial that we properly vet those seeking to come to America from these locations, and failing to do so put is all in danger."
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration is assessing exactly how to put the ban in place. "The government is reviewing the decision and determining how to proceed," Spicer said.
Contributing: Richard Wolf, Alan Gomez