U.S. travel ban will create difficulties for some Fort Wayne-area Muslim families

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to allow enforcement of the Trump Administration’s travel ban against residents of six mostly Muslim countries likely will cause some hardships for Fort Wayne-area families from those countries, a local Muslim community leader said.

“We do feel somewhat disappointed and concerned about the decision the Supreme Court made,” said Dr. Tariq Akbar, a member of the board of trustees of the Universal Education Foundation (UEF), one of several local Muslim centers.

The travel ban, citing terror and security concerns, prevents travel to the United States by residents from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families, The Associated Press reported Monday.

The Trump Administration’s hold on accepting refugees expired in October. A leader with Catholic Charities in Fort Wayne said Monday that organization still is gathering information and checking with partner organizations to determine if, or how, the travel ban may impact immigration and refugee resettlement.

The Supreme Court’s action Monday allows the Trump Administration to fully enforce the travel ban while legal challenges to it make their way through the U.S. courts system. Those challenges, which had blocked enforcement of the ban, eventually are expected to reach the Supreme Court, which then could rule on the matter.

There are several Muslim families in the Fort Wayne area, many of whose members are U.S. citizens, who are from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, Akbar said.

The travel ban could prevent travel back to their homelands for any of those individuals who don’t have full U.S. citizenship, he said. The ban likely also will prevent any of their family members who still live in their home country from coming to visit family in the United States, unless the travelers also are U.S. citizens.

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow enforcement of the travel ban now “speaks against American values,” Akbar said.

Using language the Supreme Court itself arrived at last summer, lower courts had said people from the countries impacted by the travel ban, who had a claim of a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States, could not be kept out of this country, The Associated Press reported Monday. Grandparents, cousins and other relatives were among those the courts said could not be excluded.

Now those relationships won’t provide a blanket exemption from the travel ban, though visa officials still can make exceptions on a case-by-case basis, The Associated Press reported.

The UEF will try to offer support to local families impacted by the travel ban, but members probably can’t do much until U.S. courts make a final decision on enforcement of the travel ban, Akbar said.