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Supreme Court's travel ban decision opens door to wider implementation, a Mason professor says

June 29, 2018

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera

The recent Supreme Court ruling that affirmed President Trump’s travel ban might one day be used as a precedent to erect barriers against other countries, a George Mason University professor said.

“Once the Supreme Court makes a decision, that decision can be expanded to other cases that contain similar elements,” said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, associate professor at Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government. “Terrorism is an element that can be expanded based on the risk those people allegedly represent to American society and American national security.”

National security was how the Trump administration justified the ban against several predominantly Muslim countries. Correa-Cabrera said the same rationale could be used to expand the ban to people from any country deemed a security threat.

The U.S.-Mexican border has been a contentious space because of the Trump administration’s now-halted “zero tolerance” policy of separating children from their parents once they illegally crossed the border.

Adding to the friction has been a U.S. government push to categorize drug cartels and the Latin American gang MS-13 as terrorist organizations, said Correa-Cabrera, former president of the Association for Borderlands Studies. Doing so, she said, could lead to expanding the travel ban to certain Latin American countries on the grounds of national security.

Richard Kauzlarich

“The travel ban and the approach at the U.S.-Mexican border have similar elements: to deny entrance to people who are in complicated situations,” Correa-Cabrera said. “The intention is to create the perception that young men coming from Central America are not running from gangs but are gang members themselves and [are therefore] a security threat to the United States.” 

Richard Kauzlarich, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Schar School, said the way to deal with the border crisis is for the United States to work with Latin American governments.

Create a bilateral commission with the countries from which the immigrant flow originates to identify the causes, he said. Stress the responsibility of source and transit countries to punish criminals who promise to bring people across the U.S. border for a large price, and reunite children separated from their families as quickly as possible.

“We must address the immigration issue comprehensively and humanely,” said Kauzlarich, a former U.S. ambassador and former board chair of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, which has resettled legal immigrant refugees from conflict zones around the world. “It is hard to get beyond the emotion connected with the pain and suffering in the immediate tragic situation.”

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera can be reached at 703-993-6273 or

Richard Kauzlarich can be reached at 703-993-9652 or

For more information, contact Damian Cristodero at 703-993-9118 or

About George Mason

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 36,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.