While this is the third time courts have managed to frustrate Trump's efforts, there is no reason to believe this pattern can continue indefinitely. This much seems clear: The Trump administration is determined to press for some form of a Muslim ban, one way or another. The administration responded to the judges' rulings immediately, decrying the decisions and vowing to appeal. The case will likely end up in the Supreme Court, where a verdict would be difficult to predict. The stakes are also higher than ever: Unlike previous iterations of the ban, which were meant to be temporary, the current executive order is intended to last indefinitely.
There are questions over whether the bulwark of the lower courts — or the outrage and activism instrumental in keeping the government to account — will be able to sustain the determination of the Trump White House to push through its anti-Muslim agenda. Resistance has faced many setbacks, and earlier this month, the Supreme Court dismissed one of two cases challenging earlier versions of the ban, declaring the suit "moot" after Trump's third order. It is expected to dismiss the second, pertaining to refugees, later this month. The International Refugee Assistance Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other groups have vowed to keep up the fight, but the now nine-month battle has been a bruising one.
"There are a lot of reasons to be concerned that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of Trump," said Moustafa Bayoumi, professor and author of "This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror." Not only did the Supreme Court allow much of Trump's ban to stay in place over the summer, but, Bayoumi argued, "the court has also been traditionally skeptical of interfering with the executive branch when it comes to immigration." The initial momentum of opposition to the ban has been weakened after months of legal battles. "I'm concerned that we're all getting worn down by this relentless administration," Bayoumi said. "Meanwhile, the Trump administration is bringing the strands of xenophobia and Islamophobia together in dangerous ways."
The uncertainty surrounding the issue has led to a steep drop in visa applications from the targeted countries — and the Muslim world in general. Not to mention that Arab and Muslim communities in the U.S. continue to live under constant anxiety. Muslims are used to encountering Islamophobic ideas in mainstream culture, said Sarab al-Jijakli, a Syrian-American organizer and national president of the Network of Arab-American Professionals. "It's another thing when an outspoken bigot sits in the White House, surrounded by Islamophobic advisers."
The rulings on these cases may have life-or-death consequences. Yemeni activist Radhya al-Mutawakel came here for refuge when her human rights efforts made her a target of violence, but says the atmosphere instigated by Trump's policies have been a shock to her. "We all feel afraid now," she said. "This country is supposed to be for freedom, but now we see our lives are being played with by the mood of this very odd president." She's had to decline invitations to speak abroad about human rights in her country for fear she won't be allowed back in. For now, she's set to stay until her visitor visa runs out. "And then? God knows."