June 29, 2017

FAQ: Trump’s Muslim Ban Following the Supreme Court Decision and Directive

The Supreme Court lifted the freeze on some key provisions of the Muslim ban executive order. Afterward, the Trump administration issued a directive with further limitations on Iranians. This could affect you or your loved ones. Please see the following Fact Sheet for key information about the Supreme Court’s ruling and directive.

What part of the Muslim Ban is now in effect?

  • The freeze on Section 2(c) of the second executive order (EO-2), often referred to as the travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen), has been lifted by the Supreme Court in cases where the foreign national has “no connection to the United States at all.”

I am a permanent resident or dual citizen, does this impact me?

  • The decision does not affect Green Card holders or dual citizens traveling on a passport from a country not impacted by the ban.

Who did the Supreme Court say the ban does not currently apply to?

  • The Supreme Court has ordered that the travel ban cannot be enforced against foreign nationals who have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

How has the Trump administration define a “bona fide relationship”?

  • As of the July 18, 2017 Supreme Court decision a bona fide relationship includes: 
    • parent (including parent-in-law)
    • Spouse
    • child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law
    • sibling, whether whole or half including step relationships
    • grandparents or grandchildren
    • aunts or uncles
    • nieces, nephews or cousins
    • brothers-laws and sisters-in-law
    •  fiancés
    • or any other “extended” family members.

Did the Supreme Court define what a “bona fide relationship” means?

  • No. The Supreme Court indicated that a foreign national must show a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Court, however, did not provide guidance on what criteria will guide credibility, and who will be responsible for making these credibility determinations, leaving this at least partially open to the interpretation of the Trump administration.
  • The relationship, however, must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2.”   
  • The Court provided an example of “students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii,” as well as “a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.”

Did the Supreme Court give any examples of a bona fide relationship?

  • The Court said that a “nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to a client list, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion.” In other words, groups cannot disingenuously claim a foreign national as a member just to avoid EO-2.
  • Similarly with respect to refugees, an American individual or entity that has a “bona fide relationship” with a refugee seeking to enter the U.S. will be able to claim a concrete hardship and allow entry for the refugee seeking asylum.

Are there any exceptions?

  • Applicants can apply for a waiver if they can show the suspension would cause undue hardship; or if their entry does not pose a threat to national security and it would be in the national interest. Both of these standards are likely going to be difficult to meet.

Who will enforce these new rules?

  • Officials like Customs and Border Patrol officers will be tasked with deciding which individuals from countries included in the ban have sufficient “bona fide” connections with the United States or whether the relationship was formed just to avoid EO-2.

How long will the ban be in effect?

  • The ban will initially be in place for 90 days beginning on Thursday, June 29. As the administration has indicated, certain countries – including those without formal relations with the United States or who are on the list of designated state sponsors of terrorism, like Iran – would likely be subject to an indefinite ban at the end of the 90 day period via Presidential decree.
  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments against the Muslim ban this fall, likely after the initial 90 day period of the ban, and could either rule against the ban or uphold the administration’s order.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas, with Justices Alito and Gorsuch joining in agreement, stated that it is the Court’s “implicit conclusion that the [Trump administration] has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed” and that the Muslim ban will inevitably be allowed to fully move forward after the eventual decision of the Supreme Court.
  • Congress could rescind the ban immediately via legislation, regardless of the ultimate outcome at the Supreme Court. Urge your Congressman to rescind the ban by taking action here.

If you have specific questions not covered by this FAQ or would like to discuss your specific case, please contact our staff at info at [email protected].

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