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Travel ban goes into effect tonight, only close family exempt

In its last act before summer recess, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed two lower courts' injunctions against President Trump's travel ban.

The Fourth and Ninth Circuit courts of appeal had not actually ruled on whether the travel ban was legal. Instead, they had ruled that it should not be put in force while the legal arguments were being made, and issued injunctions to keep any aspect of the ban from going into effect. The Supreme Court found those injunctions to be too broad. It put most of the ban into effect against those without a substantial relationship to the U.S. and will consider its full legality during its next term.

The Trump travel ban is the result of the revised version of his executive order, which he issued in early March. It affects all travelers from six majority-Muslim countries: Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. It has several provisions, including:

  • Banning entry into the U.S. for 90 days by nationals of the affected countries, unless they are green card holders
  • Suspending decisions on refugee applications for 120 days
  • Banning travel to the U.S. by refugees for 120 days
  • Limiting the total number of refugees this year 2017 to 50,000
  • Directing Homeland Security to determine whether foreign governments are providing adequate information when their nationals apply for U.S. visas

The ban goes into effect tonight, June 29, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Supreme Court limits ban to those with 'no connection' to the US; State defines the term

However, the high court said the travel ban could only be enforced against foreign nationals who are currently abroad and who have "no connection to the United States at all."

"In practical terms," the court wrote, the terms of the travel ban don't apply to foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

The State Department has now issued guidance that "a bona fide relationship with a person" means "close family member" and used the priorities of the Immigration and Naturalization Act to define how close. It told its international staff the ban does not apply to parents, parents-in-law, stepparents, spouses, minor and adult children, stepchildren, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and whole or half-siblings. It does not include fiancés and fiancées, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, cousins and other extended family members.

A bona fide relationship with an entity, according to the State Department, will largely be defined by the person's eligibility for a visa. Those who qualify for employment or student visas have bona fide relationships "inherent in the visa classification." It is unclear whether a relationship with a U.S. refugee agency will qualify.

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