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July 13, 2017

Congress Reacts to Trump’s “Grandma ban”

Washington, D.C. – Numerous congressional Democrats have condemned the Trump administration’s latest iteration of the “Muslim ban” that bars grandparents and extended family members from Iran and other banned countries from entering the United States. However, despite opposition, legislation to rescind the ban remains blocked by Republican leadership.
During a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) questioned a top Trump administration nominee about the Department of Homeland Security’s interpretation of bona fide relationships. 
“Aunts and uncles in many cultures, including our own – and grandparents – are really considered almost equal to parents,” said Harris.
At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, she asked the nominee for Under Secretary for Intelligence & Analysis at U.S. Department of Homeland Security, David J. Glawe about the rationale behind the definition of “close family” in the guidelines for the Muslim ban’s implementation.
“Is there a rationale for excluding grandparents and aunts and uncles from the definition close family relationship?,” asked Harris to which Glawe replied “I am not aware of the criteria that was used for that policy decision.”
Senators Tammy Duckworth and Ben Cardin have expressed similar sentiments. Cardin objected to the administration’s decision, stating, “I think the directive that’s been given tries to cut back on what the Supreme Court intended.”
Duckworth issued a statement on Facebook, writing, “Let me get this straight: siblings and parents-in-laws are considered ‘bona fide’ relationships according to President Trump, but grandparents and grandchildren aren’t? This President’s Muslim ban is completely illogical, un-American and an utter disgrace.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a statement calling the exclusion of grandparents, aunts and uncles from the definition “cruel”, urging members to “seriously consider using the Congress’ power of the purse to rein in Trump’s discriminatory overreach”.
The ban came back into effect on June 29 after the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration could move forward so long as it did not bar entry for persons with “bona fide” relationships with American persons or entities. The Trump Administration decided that grandparents and extended family members were not considered “bona fide” relationships and would thus be barred. 
The ban will initially be in place for 90 days and is already having consequences for individuals entering the United States. The administration has indicated that certain countries, like Iran, could likely be subject to the ban indefinitely through a Presidential decree after the 90 days period lapses. 
The state of Hawaii recently challenged the DHS’s limited definition of bona fide relationship, but has thus far been unsuccessful. 
Legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress to rescind the ban and defund the executive order. It has been endorsed by nearly every Congressional Democrat, but so far lacks Republican support and no hearings or votes have been held on the issue.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear the full case against the ban in the coming fall session. In the meantime, the ball is in Congress’ court.
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