President Trump’s scaled-back travel ban against majority-Muslim countries went into effect at 8 p.m. ET Thursday. But it is unlikely to result in the chaos at airports his original ban caused in January, when hundreds of travelers were caught in limbo.
The Jan. 27 order was struck down by federal courts, prompting Trump to issue a new version that the Supreme Court this week said could be implemented on a limited basis.
Those barred would be citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with no close ties to the United States, no previously approved visa or refugee status or permanent residence (green card).
They will be banned for up to 90 days as the federal government reviews vetting procedures to ensure that terrorists do not infiltrate the U.S.
Travelers from the six majority-Muslim countries who can prove a “bona fide relationship” to a U.S. person or entity — a standard created by the Supreme Court — can enter.
The State Department sent a cable to its consulates advising that immediate relatives of U.S. citizens — such as parents, children or spouses — could continue traveling. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, fiancees, cousins and in-laws could not.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the government created that list by relying on a definition of family found in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
David Leopold, a Cleveland immigration attorney and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the government is walking a perilous line by using such a restrictive definition.
“I think the administration’s interpretation is much more narrow than what the Supreme Court order allows,” he said. “No surprise.”
The State Department said foreigners who already have interviews for visas scheduled at U.S. consulates overseas will be able to continue that process. But, they may end up being refused entry if they cannot show strong ties to the U.S.
Nauert also said refugees who have been approved to enter the country by July 6 will be allowed to do so, but those planning to arrive after will be subject to the ban.
Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the ACLU, complained that the Trump administration is vague abut its plans for enforcing the ban. He said attorneys will be stationed at international terminals of major U.S. airports to ensure the administration complies with the rules set by the Supreme Court.
“I’m hopeful that they will comply, that they won’t try to get cute or push the limits or stretch anything,” said Jadwat, who has argued against Trump’s travel ban in lower federal courts. “But obviously, we need to be watching closely.”
The administration said it has been working quickly to make sure the travel ban goes into effect smoothly.
“This is obviously an important matter…and everybody wants to get this right,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said this week. “They want to see this implemented in an orderly fashion, and so in doing that I think they’ll probably take their time — as much time as they have — to make sure they get it right.”