Travel Ban Allowed to Exclude Certain Refugees - For Now

Aaron Brown
September 14, 2017

The Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's request Tuesday to continue enforcing travel restrictions that prohibit some refugees from six Muslim-majority countries.

Advisers are reportedly urging Trump to alter the quota as the deadline to set the number of refugees who are allowed to enter the US draws closer. With the Supreme Court's order on Tuesday, these have prevented the above rulings from going into effect for now. The ruling would have taken effect Tuesday without the high court's intervention. A partial, temporary ban has been in effect since that decision, which only allows entry by those with a "bona fide" relationship to a family member in the US or a USA entity.

Judge Watson, a leftwing appointee made by Barack Obama, said refugees working with resettlement agencies in the US are considered to have a "close" relationship and must be admitted. The Justice Department has stated that approximately 24,000 refugees have such assurances now. The administration did not challenge that part of the appeals court's ruling, and the Supreme Court did not address it.

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to clarify what it meant in its June 26 ruling, but on July 19, the High Court denied that request.

The justices are scheduled to hear arguments on the overall Trump travel ban October 10.

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Should Trump move ahead with scaling back refugee resettlement, it would be the second time in as many weeks that he has used executive authority to reduce the immigration levels entering the US. The Trump administration had stated that the temporary ban would give officials time to assess USA vetting procedures and would address the risk that terrorists could slip into the country.

Administration lawyers argued these people did not qualify for an exemption because they had "no contact" or previous relationship with anyone in this country, which was the criteria set under a previous Supreme Court decision.

That issue, though, will come up at the October hearing. The administration then attempted to narrow the definition of "bona fide relationship" to immediate family members, excluding grandparents, fiancés, and cousins, and excluded relationships established by refugee resettlement agencies.

The Justice Department had not sought a stay of that portion of the decision, though it disagreed with the interpretation.

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