White House outlines who can travel under Trump's ban

White House outlines who can travel under Trump's ban
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The White House has outlined who can and cannot come to the United States under President Trump’s temporary travel ban, which goes into effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

The Supreme Court said parts of the executive order, which had been put on ice by the lower courts, can be reinstated for travelers from six majority-Muslim nations and refugees who do not have a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the U.S.

The administration has issued more specific guidance on who exactly qualifies as having a strong enough connection to the country, hoping to avoid the chaos and confusion that dogged an earlier rollout of the ban.

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Travelers from affected countries can come to the U.S. to visit spouses, parents, children, siblings or sons- and daughters-in-law, officials said. But it excludes visiting cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews.

The White House said it based its definition of close familial relationships on the Immigration and Nationality Act.

When it comes to a person’s connection to a business or organization, the administration said that it must be formally documented and not formed for the purposes of evading the executive order — which could leave room for interpretation when it comes to enforcement.

Foreign students who have been accepted to a U.S. school or lecturers invited to speak at an American university would be allowed entry, for example. But officials said that a refugee resettlement organization is not a valid connection for refugees.

Consular officers may have some flexibility in determining who gets a visa. Applications will be determined on a “case-by-case” basis, officials said.

One example presented to the administration was someone raised by a grandparent, aunt or uncle who wanted to visit them in the U.S.

“If they don’t have the requisite family relationship, if they would like to articulate a reason that we should nevertheless waive the inadmissibility, they are certainly welcome to articulate that reason to us, and we will look at those cases case by case,” officials said. “But it won’t be the relationship that will be the determining factor."

Legal experts and dissenting Supreme Court justices have warned that there could be a flood of litigation as the U.S. government tries to determine who qualifies for the new criteria outlined by the high court.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is already vowing to take legal action.

"By arbitrarily dividing American Muslims from their grandparents and other close relatives overseas, the Trump administration's new rules violate the Supreme Court's decision," said CAIR's national executive director Nihad Awad. "These illogical rules must not stand, nor should any other part of the discriminatory and unconstitutional Muslim ban."

The White House emphasized that current valid visa holders, and any refugees booked for travel through July 6, will still be allowed to enter the country, which is why the administration is not expecting a major disruption at the ports of entry.

The administration also plans to push out clear public guidance for travelers and said it has worked with overseas partners on the issue.

“We expect business as usual at the ports of entry starting at 8 p.m. tonight,” officials said. "We expect things to run smoothly.” 

There will be changes in the visa application process, however.

The new process will involve consular officers first applying traditional screening to an applicant and then determining whether they also qualify under the new guidance.

Officials encouraged visa applicants not to cancel their previously scheduled appointments.

Critics of the ban are concerned that refugees will have a difficult time establishing a strong connection to the U.S., since resettlement organizations won’t count as a close enough relationship.

Officials could not cite specific examples of where refugees would be able to come to the U.S. for a bona fide connection to an entity, but did say that more than 50 percent of refugees have close family members in the U.S.