After months of court battles, the revised version of the Trump administration’s travel ban kicked in on Thursday night (June 29), temporarily barring travelers from six mainly Muslim nations from getting US visas unless they prove they have close ties to the country.
The new guidance for travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would also prevent the entry of refugees who do not have close family in the United States.
The rollout of the controversial measure follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision this week that allowed the executive order to take effect but significantly narrowed its scope, exempting travelers and refugees with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States.
Strict definition of family
The State Department guidance on the ban defines close family as a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling, including step siblings and other step family relations.
However fiances, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and any other ‘extended’ family do not make the cut and will be denied US visas.
The revised ban should stay in place at least until October, when the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case.
Immigrant rights activists gathered at JFK airport in New York on Thursday expressed dismay at the government’s criteria.
“The world is watching the United States of America, and what they are saying is we thought that that was the country for opportunity and justice for all. But it does not seem that way,” said Murad Awawdeh, director of political engagement at the New York Immigration Coalition.
Trump first presented the ban in January as a ‘counter-terrorism’ measure. But the move has caused outrage and chaos at airports.
In its decision on Monday (June 26), the Supreme Court allowed the ban, which bars people from the designated six countries for 90 days and refugees for 120 days, to go partially into effect until the top court can take up the case later this year.