Protecting the “Rights” of Foreign Terrorists at the Expense of American Safety

The legal battles over the so-called “Trump travel ban” continue. In the latest developments, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court order loosening the administration’s interim travel restrictions; and, a few hours later, the Court blocked another lower court ruling that would have allowed refugees with an offer of resettlement assistance to enter the U.S.

All of the high court’s rulings to date have addressed the confusing bona fide relationship” rule that it imposed for the interim application of the travel restrictions. That standard was created, out of thin air. It was not drawn from the statute governing immigration to the United States – the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Nowhere in any of the thousands of pages that make up the INA does it say that anyone with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States must be let into America. The Court will hear full-blown arguments regarding the constitutionality of the so-called “ban” on October 10. Given the current ideological composition of the Court, and its apparent willingness to rely on nebulous interim guidelines, how it will rule is anyone’s guess.

That lack of clarity makes this an opportune time to re-examine the reasons why President Trump sought to limit travel to the U.S. by certain classes of aliens. Executive Order 13769, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” contained provisions that would have imposed a temporary moratorium on travel from countries presenting significant national security threats and a temporary suspension of refugee admissions. These short-duration measures were intended to give the Departments of Homeland Security and State a chance to re-examine and update their vetting procedures. As the president clearly stated:

Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States.  The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

The order also clearly stated that, “It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.”

Those all seem like pretty laudable goals, especially given that the system used to screen immigrants coming to the United States is badly broken. They’re also goals that fall clearly within the responsibilities inherent in the office of the president and the duties assigned to him by Congress.

So why are federal district courts and courts of appeal ignoring 150 years of precedent supporting the president’s actions? Because the federal courts are developing an alarming tendency to prioritize the imaginary “rights” of criminal aliens and foreign terrorists over the public safety and national security concerns of the American people. Let’s hope that the Supreme Court reverses that trend on October 10.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    Could it be because too many of the judges these days are mostly liberals , democrats or globalists…
    Do they really know, what they are doing or is it just because they do not care…
    As a longtime immigrant and also a legal citizen as of 1982, “it flies smack in my face” what they are doing, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one, who do not like “the Writing on the wall……..Please do something to correct it Supreme court…………….

  2. avatar

    It’s a sorry state of affairs when so many judges in this country put criminal aliens and foreign terrorist before protecting Americans.