Supreme Court allows extended family under travel ban exemption

Supreme Court allows extended family under travel ban exemption
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the government's request for clarification on who is allowed into the country after the court reinstated part of President Trump's travel ban last month, keeping an exemption for extended family members in place.

The court, however, temporarily blocked the part of the Hawaii district court order that extended the exemption to refugees who have assurance from a U.S.-based refugee resettlement agency for placement in the U.S.

The court said that part of the order is on hold until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the district court order clarifying who is exempt from the travel ban.

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In what Trump hailed as a victory for his travel ban, the Supreme Court said last month that the government could ban entry of nationals from six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — but carved out an exemption for individuals who have a “bona fide relationship” to a person or entity in the U.S.

The Hawaii District Court then clarified the court’s meaning of a “bona fide relationship.” The court said the government could not enforce its ban on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins of individuals living in the U.S.

The court also said the government could not ban refugees with a formal assurance from a U.S.-based refugee resettlement agency that the agency will provide, or ensure the arrangement of, reception and placement services to that refugee. That is the part of the ruling the Supreme Court knocked down on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court's conservative wing — Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — said they would have blocked the full district court order.

The high court will decide the case when it returns for the fall term, which begins the first Monday in October. Arguments will be held on Oct. 10, according to a copy of the court's calendar released Wednesday. 

The Supreme Court’s decision to block the exemption for refugees is a partial win for the administration. The Department of Justice argued in its appeal to the 9th Circuit that a government-arranged assurance agreement between a refugee and a resettlement agency does not by itself establish a “bona fide relationship.”

"The assurance is not an agreement between the resettlement agency and the refugee; rather, it is an agreement between that agency and the federal government,” the government said in court documents asking the 9th Circuit to temporarily block the district court order.

“In other words, the government enters into an agreement to provide the refugee with certain services once the refugee arrives, in order to ensure a smooth transition into the United States," the government argued. "Significantly, however, resettlement agencies typically do not have any direct contact with the refugees they assure before their arrival in the United States."

- This report was updated at 2:32 p.m.