Is Homeland Security “Trumping” International Relations and Religious Freedom?

This post is written by Associate Editor Spenser Knauss. Opinions and views expressed herein are those of the writer alone.

Recently, President Donald Trump (“President Trump”) issued his third executive order banning entry into the United States for citizens of eight countries—Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen—for an indefinite amount of time.[1]  President Trump’s new ban also suspended entry for Venezuelan government officials and their families.[2]  Even though President Trump’s administration argues the ban was enacted for homeland security, many feel the ban was enacted to discriminate against the Muslim religion.[3]

The American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) will amend its existing lawsuit, filed in March, against President Trump to include the new travel ban.[4]  ACLU believes the new ban is still a violation of the United States Constitution and was created to discriminate against several nations and their religions.[5]  Furthermore, Chad’s government called for President Trump to reconsider the travel ban because the ban will contradict “. . . Chad’s constant efforts and commitments in the fight against terrorism at regional and global levels.”[6]  In addition, the Venezuelan President stated that the travel restrictions violate the United Nations’ values and international law.[7]

The third executive order replaced the second executive order, which banned citizens of six Muslim countries from entering the United States for a 60-day period.[8]  It also banned refugees from entering the United States for a 120-day period.[9]  The United States Supreme Court scheduled an oral argument on the legality of the second travel ban for October 10, 2017 but cancelled the oral argument when the third executive order was enacted.[10]

It will likely be difficult for the ACLU to win its lawsuit against President Trump because his powers are vested in the Constitution, Immigration and Nationality Act, and the United States Code.[11]  Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General selected the eight countries included in the new ban after evaluating 200 countries.[12]  It was decided that the eight countries harbor significant terrorist activity and  remain deficient “. . . with respect to their identity-management and information-sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices.”[13]

The Department of Homeland Security determined that 47 countries were classified as being “at-risk” of becoming inadequate based upon “an analysis of their identity-management protocols, information-sharing practices, and risk factors.”[14]  The Department of the State gave all “at-risk” countries 50 days to improve their performance before determining which countries’ citizens should be impacted by the travel ban.[15]

Ultimately, President Trump argues Chad is the United States’ partner in battling terrorism but Chad has not adequately shared safety and terrorism information.[16]  Chad also houses numerous terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qa’ida.[17]  Like Chad, President Trump claims Venezuela’s government is uncooperative in providing terrorism and public safety information.[18]

President Trump’s third executive order includes language maintaining that the order will not create a right or benefit for any party against the United States or against any other party.[19]  However, the American people should consider whether America is truly a melting pot and whether America wants to promote religious diversity.  Americans should ask themselves these questions:

  1. Should the Supreme Court schedule another hearing even though the old executive order is moot?
  2. Was the new executive order signed in an effort to cause the Supreme Court hearing to

be cancelled?

  1. Why were the eight countries chosen to be included in the ban?
  2. Should President Trump’s statements during his campaign and early presidency

regarding Muslims impact the constitutionality of the new executive order?

  1. Is the travel ban still unconstitutional since North Korea and Venezuela, non-Muslim

countries, were added to the new executive order?

  1. For a country founded on religious freedom, does a potential to increase homeland security “trump” religious freedom and international relations?


[1] Lawrence Hurley & Andrew Chung, U.S. Civil Liberties Group to Challenge Trump’s New Travel Ban, 2017 Thomson Reuters, (Sept. 29, 2017),

[2] Id.

[3] The Latest: Trump’s New Travel Ban:  Third Time the Charm?, U.S. News (Sept. 25, 2017),

[4] Hurley & Chung, supra note 1.

[5] Id.

[6] The Latest: Trump’s New Travel Ban, supra note 3.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Trump Travel Ban:  Questions about the Revised Executive Order, BBC News:  US & Canada (July 14, 2017),

[11] Donald J. Trump, Proclamation:  Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats, The White House Office of the Press Secretary (Sept. 24, 2017),

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Trump, supra note 11.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.


Author: nkylrev

The Northern Kentucky Law Review, founded in 1973, is an independent journal, edited and published entirely by the students of NKU Chase College of Law.

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