On Monday, June 26, the Supreme Court decided to temporarily uphold portions of the Trump administration’s travel ban. Issued by executive order, the ban will restrict travel to the U.S. by refugees and migrants from six mainly Muslim-majority countries. Tonight at 8 PM eastern time, the travel ban will begin to be rolled out by the State Department, although confusion still exists as to how it will be implemented and who it will impact.
The Trump administration has issued some guidelines to U.S. embassies and consulates on how the new policy will be enforced. Here’s everything we know so far:
What does the ban say?: The executive order mandates a 90-day bar of entry to citizens of Sudan, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. Further, there will be a 120-day ban on refugees fleeing from any of the aforementioned six countries. Those who already have valid visas will not be affected and will still be able to enter the country. New visa applicants who want to enter the U.S. will have to prove a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity already in the country.
Who will be admitted:
U.S. citizens, including dual citizens
Green card holders and other legal permanent residents
Those who already have already been issued a short-term U.S. visa
Those with legal refugee status
Those with a “bona fide” familial relationship in the U.S.
Those with certain types of diplomatic or government visas
Those with a standing job offer from a U.S. company
Students who are accepted by a U.S. university
Who will be prohibited:
Those without a “bona fide” relationship to a U.S. person or entity
What does a “bona fide relationship” mean, exactly? According to the U.S. Supreme Court, a “bona fide” relationship has a pretty narrow definition. Essentially, it means close family members, such as a parent, spouse, child, sibling (including whole, half and step-siblings) or close in-law. Some relationships that are not included: grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers/sisters-in-law, fiancés or any other extended family members.
How will the government decide who has “bona fide” relationships to the U.S.? This is the part that’s unclear. Thus far, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Justice Department seem a bit flummoxed as to how to administer the ban uniformly. This has caused a lot of confusion as to who will be allowed to enter the country. Immigrant rights advocates worry that the ban will not be enforced consistently or fairly without clear guidelines put in place. Hopefully, we’ll see more comprehensible guidelines soon.
Are there any exceptions to the ban? There are a few exceptions to the ban as laid out by the Supreme Court. Students who have been accepted at U.S. universities, as well as those who have been offered jobs at U.S. companies will be allowed entry into the country. Further, some businesspeople and journalists will also be permitted. It should be noted, however, that those who wish to enter the country for any of these purposes will need to show a “formal, documented” relationship to an entity in the U.S. before being admitted entry.
How many people will be affected by the ban? It’s hard to say exactly how many people the ban will affect. However, many — if not the majority — of foreign travelers to the U.S. have familial connections here. State Department data backs this claim: last year, of the 12,998 visas issued to people from Yemen, a whopping 12,563 had immediate family in the U.S. Given the strong numbers of visa-seekers with “bona fide” relationships in the U.S., it is unlikely that the majority of visa applications will be affected by the ban.
What about refugees? The executive order allows for some refugees to be admitted on a case-by-case basis. For the rest, after the 120-day ban is lifted, the Trump administration will reassess which countries should be admitted through refugee programs. While this order does cut the refugee program significantly (it is now capped at 50,000 people, compared to the 110,000 limit by the Obama administration), it does not apply to refugees who can claim a bona fide relationship in the U.S.
(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)