- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2017

President Trump’s revived travel ban kicked into operation Thursday night, imposing a tough new screen on refugees from across the globe and on all visitors from six majority-Muslims countries the White House says need “extreme vetting.”

Spouses and immediate blood relatives — parents, children and siblings — of persons already in the U.S. will still be allowed to come, as will those with business or school ties. But others, including friends, grandparents and even those engaged to be married, can be blocked from entering the U.S. under the policy officials detailed Thursday.

The screen is tighter than immigrant rights groups were expecting, and the first court challenge was filed by Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin even as the new rules were taking effect.

“In Hawaii, ‘close family’ includes many of the people that the federal government decided on its own to exclude from that definition. Unfortunately, this severely limited definition may be in violation of the Supreme Court ruling,” Mr. Chin said.

The administration says it is using definitions based on existing immigration law and on what it’s been able to glean from the Supreme Court ruling.

All sides agree that lower-court judges will have to grapple with the vague guidance given by the high court.

Hawaii’s latest challenge will go to the same judge that initially issued an extraordinarily broad injunction of the travel ban — a ruling that was overturned, in part, by two appeals courts.

For now, Trump administration officials vowed to make the new vetting as painless as possible, hoping to avoid the kind of messy rollout that plagued the president’s initial executive order in January.

“We’re going to do so in as orderly a fashion as we possibly can,” one senior official said as the administration briefed reporters on the new rules.

Anyone already awarded a visa will be allowed to come, subject to the usual hurdles and screening. The issuance of new visas, however, will have an added check to ensure someone meets the “close relationship” standard the Supreme Court laid out.

Refugees already in the pipeline through July 6 will also be admitted, but the same “close relationship” screen will be applied after that, officials said. They indicated that more than half of refugees lack the family relationship that could guarantee them entry.

Lawyers and activists have already said they would be at ports of entry to provide legal advice or show support for visitors.

Immigrant rights groups had argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling would leave almost nobody on the outside. They said nearly every potential visitor to the U.S. already has family or a business or school tie that draws them, and said every refugee already in the pipeline to be resettled in the U.S. has a connection to a resettlement agency.

They argued the only visitors who appeared to be banned were tourists.

Advocates said the administration’s new rules drew the net too tightly by excluding grandparents and grandchildren, as well as others.

“Those engaged to be married, for example, have been cruelly left out,” said Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center. “This reported guidance should leave no doubt that the Trump administration will exploit any opportunity to advance its xenophobic agenda.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the immigrants rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new policy violates what the Supreme Court had ordered.

The administration said it based its definition of family on the Immigration and Nationality Act and on the Supreme Court’s decision.

In their Monday ruling, the justices said the president’s national security powers are at their peak when applied to people who have no connection to the U.S. Those who do have connections, however, have constitutional rights that must be weighed.

The 9-0 ruling overturned several lower-court decisions that had halted both Mr. Trump’s 90-day pause on admissions from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and his 120-day pause in admitting refugees.

The justices will hear full arguments on the travel ban in October.

 

 

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