The Trump Travel Ban Continues: What Does It Mean and What Will Happen Next?

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to review lower court rulings on the Trump Administration’s so-called ‘Travel Ban’ and permitted the federal government to put part of the ban in effect until the Court reconvenes in October.

The court ruled that if someone from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen is not deemed as a “bona fide” relative of someone who lives in the U.S., then that person who wishes to travel to the U.S. will likely face a denial of entry to this country.

People from the six countries now covered by the ban who claim “bona fide” relations to U.S. educational and business organizations need to document that they are entering the country for formal purposes (ie., working for an American corporation or studying at an American university). Nonprofit organizations cannot petition to sponsor immigrants from banned countries to come to the U.S..

The Court does not consider the grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces of U.S. residents as “bona fide” relatives, and as such, our government may deny them from entering the country. However, on July 13, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii filed a motion to challenge the DHS definition of “bona fide” as too narrow by arguing that grandparents, brothers and sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins are “the epitome of close family members” and that the ban should not exclude them from entering the U.S.. As Watson’s actions show, the potential to re-include people excluded from our country does exist. Nevertheless, the federal government stayed Watson’s order and asked Watson to “clarify” his definition of close family.

The fact that the Court is continuing to treat certain immigrants with suspicion based on national origins and demographic backgrounds, allowing certain immigrants in and excluding others, is highly problematic. The current ban’s jurisdiction mirrors discriminatory national origin laws in the pre-1965 U.S. or in 20th-century Australia, that excluded many immigrants from entering those countries.

Will exclusionary policy continue to break families apart based on national origins, or will the government end the ban and allow people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen to enter the U.S. once again? We will need to keep following the debates on the so-called ‘Travel Ban’ between court justices, representatives, activists, and other concerned members of the public to get an answer to this question.