The US Supreme Court in a ruling last Monday revived parts of Trump’s March 6 executive order that banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, which had been blocked by lower courts. The highest court let the ban go forward with a limited scope, saying that it cannot apply to anyone with credible “bona fide relationship” with a US person or entity.
According to Trump, the travel ban was necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. However, opponents argued that the ban discriminates against Muslims.
The government said that a “bona fide relationship” only includes close family members: parents, spouses, siblings and children. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins from the six countries would still be banned.
According to the lawyers of the Department of Justice, who argued in favor of the travel ban in court papers on Monday, the government’s definition of a “bona fide relationship” is consistent with the Immigration and Neutrality Act.
Some refugee organizations argued that their work to resettle refugees qualifies as a “bona fide” relationship with a US entity, and that any refugees with such a relationship should be exempt from the three-month ban on refugees included in the executive order.
The government, however, responded that workers with offers of employment with a US company and international students are different from refugees receiving help from US resettlement agencies. A refugee’s relationship with the agency flows from the government, not from an independent relationship between the refugee and the resettlement agency; resettlement agencies typically do not have direct contact with the refugees before their arrival to the US.
US refugee resettlement is continuing as usual until July 6, around when the 50,000 cap for the fiscal year set by Trump’s executive order is likely to be reached, the State Department said.
Our Verdict: The articulation and clarification of the ban last Friday was milder compared to when Trump first signed a more expansive version of the order in January, which indicates that there is likely to be a difference between what Trump promised during his election campaign and what will actually be implemented. This may be a piece of good news for immigrants in the US.