A judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals questioned the similarity of foreign nationals affected by President Trump's travel ban and Tom Hanks' character in the film "The Terminal" on Wednesday.
Hanks' character, Viktor Navorski, arrives at JFK International Airport but cannot enter the U.S. because America stopped recognizing his home country as a sovereign nation while he was en route to the U.S., according to the Internet Movie Database. Unable to return home to his home nation because of civil war ripping it apart and unable to enter the U.S., Navorski gets stuck in the airport.
Senior Judge Michael Daly Hawkins questioned Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hashim Mooppan about whether Trump's travel ban could yield a similar result.
The conflict between two federal statutes regarding the admissibility of foreign nationals to the U.S. and the limitations on foreign entrants to the U.S. could determine the legality of Trump's newest actions.
Mooppan argued that the legislative history of the statutes did not suggest that a decision to restrict immigrant visas was intended to restrict the president's authority to deny foreign nationals entry to the U.S.
Mooppan's argument prompted Hawkins, a President Clinton appointee, to wonder whether the Trump administration's interpretation of federal law could produce "Tom Hanks' example of being stateless inside the airport terminal."
"What I would submit is that precisely because [one statute] was about immigrant visa issuance, it was not meant to suggest that you have to grant an immigrant visa to someone who is not eligible to enter in the first place," Mooppan said. "It’s not the Tom Hanks scenario."