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Close Family Ties, Job Offers Considered ‘Bona Fide’ As Trump Travel Ban Takes Effect

The administration is expected to outline how the limited travel ban will work, following the Supreme Court’s lifting of stays blocking the executive order.

The government has said the new policy was based on an objective assessment of each country’s security situation and willingness to share information with the U.S.
The Trump administration is expected to outline how it will implement its modified travel ban on people from six majority-Muslim nations.

Updated June 29 at 10:26 a.m. ET

The Trump administration is expected Thursday to formally outline how it will implement its modified travel ban, following the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday lifting a stay on the executive order imposed by two lower courts.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the modified ban cannot be applied to “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

A senior U.S. official tells NPR the order will allow travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to enter the U.S. if they have close family ties. Those ties are defined as a parent, including parent-in-law; spouse; child; adult son or daughter, including son-in-law or daughter-in-law; and sibling, including half and step siblings.

However, the administration’s definition does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiances and other extended family members.

Under the administration’s interpretation of the high court’s ruling, people who have accepted job offers in the U.S. or an invitation to lecture at a U.S. university may also receive visas.

The new guidelines are to take effect at 8 pm E.T. Thursday night.

President Trump originally tried to impose the ban in order to allow the federal government to review its vetting procedures for people from those six majority-Muslim nations. (The order originally included people from Iraq as well, but that nation was dropped after the administration realized its inclusion would hurt cooperation from the Baghdad government in the fight against ISIS.)

The modified order also bars refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days.

In at least a partial victory for the president, the Supreme Court lifted the stay, issued by federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii, that had prevented the order from taking effect, while the justices consider whether the ban is constitutional. During the course of litigation over the revised ban, the president directed his administration to begin implementation “72 hours after all applicable injunctions are lifted or stayed,” which would be Thursday.

As NPR reported earlier this week, the initial version of the travel ban, issued Jan. 27, “caused chaos at airports across the country until it was blocked by a federal judge in Washington state” on Feb. 3, a ruling that was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. That prompted the administration to craft a revised version in March that omitted references to religion and specifically exempted green card holders. But that order, too, was challenged by lawsuits. It was blocked by lower courts in Maryland and Hawaii, decisions also upheld by appeals courts, and never took effect.

The State Department said Wednesday that once the order is implemented, it will process visa applications for nationals of affected countries “as directed by the Executive Order and in full compliance with the Supreme Court’s decision.”

The administration has said the order will be implemented “in a professional, organized and timely way.”

Various advocacy groups have also been seeking guidance as to what constitutes “a bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S.

In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday, the groups — including Muslim Advocates, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State — said, “The public is in urgent need of information about the manner which persons can establish a ‘bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,’ the precise criteria for adjudicating waiver requests.”

“We seek the requested material,” the letter also said, “in order to provide our organizations and affected communities with the information necessary to make this waiver process meaningful.”