The US Supreme Court on Monday allowed the full implementation of the latest version of President Donald's Trump's order banning travellers from six mainly Muslim countries, pending appeal, ending a year-long tug-of-war between the executive and the judiciary.
The apex court stayed the October rulings from two lower courts that had blocked implementation of the ban on visitors from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen on the back of appeals filed by affected parties (See: Trump moves SC for full travel ban after court okays partial ban).
The revised travel ban, which also covers people from North Korea and a selection of senior officials from Venezuela, is now fully enforceable.
The third version of the Trump administration's travel ban, unveiled in September, also drew immediate challenges in federal appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia and San Francisco, California.
The challengers could also convince local courts on the need to keep the ban on hold as lawyers fight out the legality of the ban.
They argued that the measure targeting Muslim countries is in violation of the US Constitution and that the policy has nothing to do with the government's avowed security goals.
However, the Supreme Court accepted the government's views and in a 7-2 vote let the government move ahead, even as the appeals continue.
The Trump administration said the ban was crucial to protect US national security and deter terror attacks.
''We are not surprised by today's Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President's proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism,'' the White House said.
''The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defence of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts,'' it added.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, criticised the ruling.
''This decision ignores the very real human consequences to American citizens and their families abroad imposed by President Trump's Muslim Ban 3.0,'' said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.
The Supreme Court also asked justices in the lower appeals courts to expedite their decisions, even as the travel ban continued.
Trump has been trying to implement a promised travel ban ever since he became president on 20 January. But the administration's efforts have been undermined by a series of court rulings.
After Monday's ruling the Department of Homeland Security said, ''the administration's common sense travel restrictions on countries that do not meet basic security standards and do not share critical information with us about terrorists and criminals are designed to defend the homeland and keep Americans safe.''
The initial ban was to be for 90 days, ostensibly to give the US and the targeted countries time to implement tougher and more thorough vetting procedures for visitors.
After a series of court battles, the 90 day ban was finally allowed in June and the administration had since intensified the vetting for US-bound travelers from almost every country.
When the six-country ban expired in September, the administration sought to replace it with an open-ended ban, with Chad added to the list while Sudan was removed, and North Korea and Venezuela were appended.
Immigration and civil rights activists hold the latest travel ban also essentially targets Muslims, which would violate the US Constitution's guarantees of religious rights.