Limited Travel Ban in Effect, Court Challenge Filed

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The Trump administration began enforcing its temporary ban on refugees and on visitors from six Muslim-majority nations yesterday, exempting only those travelers with close family or business ties in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports. The guidelines are a narrow reading of Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that required the U.S. to continue to admit people who have “bona fide” relationships with either people or institutions. Under the new rules, a sister or a husband of an American citizen wouldn’t fall under the ban, but an aunt or a grandparent would. The administration reversed course and included people engaged to be married on the list of those with close family ties who are exempt from the ban. The new rules came under immediate legal challenge. Challengers in one of the two principal legal cases, from Hawaii, asked a federal judge there to “clarify” what the Trump administration can and can’t do with its partial ban. They argued for a broader set of exemptions.

The travel ban has been one of the most divisive acts of Donald Trump’s short presidency. Trump and his backers have argued it is an overdue effort to fight terrorism, while Democrats, immigration lawyers, refugee advocates and Muslim activists say it runs contrary to the Constitution and U.S. values of diversity. While the travel ban has been toned down since its introduction in January, few people on either side of the debate were expecting the sort of chaos that unfolded at airports after the abrupt implementation of the first version of the order. Most of the action is likely to be invisible to the public, unfolding overseas at the desks of consulate officers as they reject visa applications from citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen that might have otherwise been accepted.

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