Jus­tices al­low strict refugee ban but say grand­par­ents OK

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MARK SHER­MAN

WASH­ING­TON — The Supreme Court says the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion can strictly en­force its ban on refugees, but at the same time is leav­ing in place a weak­ened travel ban that in­cludes grand­par­ents among rel­a­tives who can help vis­i­tors from six mostly Mus­lim coun­tries get into the U.S.

The jus­tices acted Wednes­day on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­peal of a fed­eral judge’s rul­ing last week. U.S. District Judge Der­rick Wat­son or­dered the gov­ern­ment to al­low in refugees for­mally work­ing with a re­set­tle­ment agency in the United States. Wat­son also vastly ex­panded the fam­ily re­la­tions that refugees and vis­i­tors can use to get into the coun­try.

The high court blocked Wat­son’s or­der as it ap­plies to refugees for now, but not the ex­panded list of rel­a­tives. The

jus­tices said the fed­eral ap­peals court in San Fran­cisco should now con­sider the ap­peal. It’s not clear how quickly that will hap­pen.

In the mean­time, though, up to 24,000 refugees who al­ready have been as­signed to a char­ity or re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tion in the U.S. will not be able to use that con­nec­tion to get into the coun­try.

“This rul­ing jeop­ar­dizes the safety of thou­sands of peo­ple across the world in­clud­ing vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies flee­ing war and vi­o­lence,” said Nau­reen Shah, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional USA’s se­nior di­rec­tor of cam­paigns.

That part of the court’s rul­ing was a vic­tory for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who rolled out a first ban on trav­ellers and refugees af­ter just a week in of­fice, prompt­ing a le­gal fight that has raged ever since.

But the Supreme Court also de­nied the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­quest to clar­ify its rul­ing last month that al­lowed the ad­min­is­tra­tion to par­tially re­in­state a 90-day ban on vis­i­tors from Iran, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria and Ye­men and a 120-day ban on refugees from any­where in the world.

The court’s rul­ing ex­empted a large swath of refugees and trav­ellers with a “bona fide re­la­tion­ship” with a per­son or an en­tity in the U.S. The jus­tices did not de­fine those re­la­tion­ships but said they could in­clude a close rel­a­tive, a job of­fer or ad­mis­sion to a col­lege or uni­ver­sity.

Wat­son’s or­der added grand­par­ents, grand­chil­dren, broth­ers-in-law, sis­ters-in­law, aunts, un­cles, nieces, neph­ews and cousins to a list that al­ready in­cluded a par­ent, spouse, fi­ancé, son, daugh­ter, son-in­law, daugh­ter-in-law or sib­ling in the U.S. The ex­panded list of rel­a­tives re­mains in ef­fect, and the State De­part­ment al­ready has in­structed diplo­mats to use the broader list when con­sid­er­ing visa ap­pli­cants from the six coun­tries.

Hawaii At­tor­ney Gen­eral Doug Chin said the court’s or­der Wednes­day “con­firms we were right to say that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over­reached in try­ing to uni­lat­er­ally keep fam­i­lies apart from each other.”

Jus­tices Sa­muel Al­ito, Neil Gor­such and Clarence Thomas would have blocked Wat­son’s or­der in its en­tirety. Those same three jus­tices said last month they would have al­lowed the Trump travel ban to take full ef­fect. Also Wednes­day, the court sched­uled ar­gu­ments over the travel ban for Oct. 10, though the 90-day pause will have ex­pired by then.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks at a lun­cheon with Re­pub­li­can sen­a­tors.

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