It took a landmark Supreme Court decision to finally overrule liberal protests, but the travel ban is here — and leftists are not happy.
Donald Trump’s administration is putting new criteria in place Thursday for refugees and visa applicants from six nations former President Barack Obama once called “terror hotbeds”, requiring a close family or business tie to the United States.
The goal: Make America safe again. The move comes after the legality of Trump’s widely-popular executive order was upheld by the high court, a temporary ruling that liberal groups have vowed to keep fighting.
Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked. The should help avoid the kind of chaos at airports around the world that surrounded the initial travel ban, as travelers with previously approved visas were kept off flights or barred entry on arrival in the United States. Also, while the initial order took effect immediately, causing some confusion, this one was delayed more than 72 hours after the court’s ruling.
The new instructions issued by the State Department will affect new visa applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen. They must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible. The same requirement, with some exceptions, holds for would-be refugees from all nations that are still awaiting approval for admission to the U.S.
Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be close relations, according to the guidelines that were issued in a cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late on Wednesday. The new rules take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, according to the cable.
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As far as business or professional links are concerned, the State Department said, a legitimate relationship must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules. A hotel reservation or car rental contract would also not count, it said.
Consular officers may grant other exemptions to applicants from the six nations if they have “previously established significant contacts with the United States;” ″significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S.; if they are an infant, adopted child or in need of urgent medical care; if they are traveling for business with a recognized international organization or the U.S. government or if they are a legal resident of Canada who applies for a visa in Canada, according to the cable.
There were no major problems reported in the hours after the guidelines were issued. The Middle East’s biggest airline says its flights to the United States are operating as normal. Dubai-based Emirates reminded passengers that they “must possess the appropriate travel documents, including a valid U.S. entry visa, in order to travel.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court lifted lower court injunctions against Trump’s executive order that had temporarily banned visas for citizens of the six countries. The justices’ ruling exempted applicants from the ban if they could prove a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity, but the court offered only broad guidelines — suggesting they would include a relative, job offer or invitation to lecture in the U.S. — as to how that should be defined.
Senior officials from the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security had labored since then to design guidelines that would comply with the ruling. Wednesday’s instructions were the result. The new guidance will remain in place until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling on the matter. Arguments before the justices will not be held until at least October, so the interim rules will remain in place at least until the fall.
Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered the refugee ban and a travel ban affecting the six countries, plus Iraq. He said it was needed to protect the U.S. from terrorists, and the move was widely popular with American voters — but was immediately attacked by political opponents in court.
After a federal judge struck down the ban, Trump signed a revised order intended to overcome legal hurdles. That was also challenged in lower courts, but the Supreme Court’s action Monday finally reinstated it.
The Associated Press contributed to this article