The latest version of President Trump’s travel ban is set to take effect tonight, three days after the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily allow a limited version of the ban.
Beginning at 5 p.m. Pacific time, travelers from six predominantly Muslim-majority countries will be blocked for 90 days – 120 days for refugees — from entering the United States unless they have “bona fide relationships” in the country.
Since Monday, attorneys and advocates for civil rights organizations and refugees have scrambled to figure out exactly what “bona fide” means.
Guidelines sent to U.S. embassies and consulates on Wednesday say that applicants from the six countries must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the U.S., the Associated Press reported. A State Dept. cable obtained by AP said grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be close relationships.
Attorneys for several organizations plan to be at Los Angeles International Airport, JFK International in New York and possibly other major airports later today to monitor how the ban impacts those seeking entry from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Advocates said they will assist families waiting for travelers who may be blocked by Customs and Border Patrol agents at the airport.
“The final say on whether they’re allowed in always lies with CBP at entry. With non-immigrant visas, there’s a lot of discretion to deny visas, even after they’re already issued,” said Farida Chehata, an immigration attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, greater Los Angeles-area chapter.
It’s still unclear how the partial travel ban will affect refugees and whether their connection to sponsoring organizations would be considered a “bona fide relationship,” attorneys said.
The latest directive to embassies said that the same requirement proving a relationship with a parent, spouse and other specified categories would apply to would-be refugees, with some exceptions.
“The question is: What are those exceptions?” said Annaluisa Padilla, an attorney from La Habra who serves as president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“Most refugees have an entity sponsoring them. But most of the time, they haven’t met” those sponsors, Padilla said.