On June 26,
the Supreme Court (Court) agreed to review rulings by two lower courts blocking
the implementation of President Trump’s March 6 Executive Order (EO). The Court
delivered a partial victory for the Trump
Administration by granting the President’s request to allow
the ban to take effect but only for travelers who do not have “bona fide”
relations with the United States. The Court said in their decision that the
restriction on the ban would not be lifted entirely.
The decision to remove the ban partially,
accomplished two things. First, it noted that the justices have agreed to hear Trump v. Hawaii and Trump v. International
Refugee Assistance Project in a consolidated oral argument during the October 2017 term, which is
itself unusual. Normally, the Supreme Court does not commit to a hearing
timeframe when it agrees to hear a case; which means it responded favorably to
the Trump Administration’s request for expedited review. Secondly, the order
partially lifted injunctions lower federal courts had imposed, allowing the
travel ban to go into effect “with
respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person
or entity in the [United States].”
In light of the ruling, individuals who can
claim a direct connection with people or organizations in the United States (for
example, foreign students admitted to a U.S. college or university) are allowed
to enter the country, and anyone else “similarly situated” who has relatives or
is doing business in the United States.
On June 28, the State Department issued guidance to
American embassies and consulates on how to enforce these new restrictions on
travel that took effect on Thursday, June 29 at 8:00 PM ET, for a period of 90 days.
Specifically, the guidelines issued by the State Department define close family
that would be allowed entry into the United Sates as a parent (including
parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law,
daughter-in-law, and sibling, whether whole or half and including step relationships.
However, the guidelines exclude grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles,
nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés and any
other extended family members.
The court’s announcement means that the justices will review the decisions of the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit in the new session, in
October. The timetable suggested by the Court means that the October hearing
may never happen if the partial travel ban runs its course in the next 90 days,
expiring in September, before the justices start the next term.