Trump's Travel Ban Is Set To Take Effect On Thursday

Jun 29, 2017
Originally published on June 29, 2017 7:44 am
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Several things are different as President Trump tries again to impose a travel ban. Back in January, the administration moved abruptly to ban travel from seven majority-Muslim nations. The result was chaos at airports and multiple court orders against the ban.

This time, the administration is moving a bit more slowly. It waited three days after the Supreme Court allowed enforcement of one portion of a modified travel ban. And it's only one portion. Travelers from the six nations and refugees can still come in if they have ties to the U.S. but can be temporarily barred if they do not. NPR's Joel Rose has been covering this, and he joins me now. Joel, what exactly happens today? What are they laying out?

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Well, we're expecting a briefing at noon to find out how the Trump administration plans to implement this travel ban and also abide by the order issued earlier this week by the Supreme Court. Lots of people are eager for answers on this because there are a lot of people who play a role in the U.S. immigration system.

You've got people at embassies and consulates abroad, border agents at airports, airlines. The refugee resettlement programs have a stake here. And, of course, there are the travelers themselves. And this executive order is expected to go into effect tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

MARTIN: So remind us now, who can come in and who cannot?

ROSE: Well, this largely comes down to the meaning of one phrase - bona fide relationship. That is what the Supreme Court said - when the Supreme Court said that Trump's travel ban could go into effect, it carved out an exemption for travelers who have a bona fide tie inside the U.S.

The trouble is that bona fide relationship is not a term with a clear meaning in immigration policy. And administration officials have been sort of hashing out for days exactly what that's going to mean. And we're getting - we're learning something about what they're going to say. Those ties must be close ones. That's according to a State Department cable to consulates and embassies overseas according to a U.S. official.

MARTIN: Doesn't...

ROSE: Go ahead.

MARTIN: ...Although, doesn't close - isn't that also subjective? I mean, what does that mean?

ROSE: Well, so what it means according to this cable, for a family member it means a mother, a child, a sibling. It does not mean, apparently, a grandparent, a grandmother, an aunt, a brother-in-law. And for businesses and schools, the relationship - the close relationship has to be documented in writing on paper. We think these rules will also apply to most refugees.

This is a very different situation from the definition from what the refugee resettlement agencies were hoping. These are the organizations that actually help resettle refugees inside the U.S. And they had been arguing that that relationship is itself a bona fide relationship with refugees and that that should be enough to allow them to come in as an organization.

MARTIN: That as an organization, they have a connection to this person who's trying to come to the country and that should count?

ROSE: Exactly.

MARTIN: So the impetus for all of this, way back when the administration first proposed this ban, was because there was an urgent security threat. And as a result, the administration said they were going to implement something they called extreme vetting. Did that happen?

ROSE: Not yet. Remember that states and immigrant rights activists were successful in blocking this executive order. Courts on both coasts ruled against the Trump administration and put it on hold. The activists pushing against this argued it was unconstitutional because it was a ban on Muslims like the one that president - or candidate Trump talked about during the campaign. So the administration's lawyers argued in court that those injunctions prevented them from doing the security review that they said was the impetus for this in the first place. So that review only got underway very recently.

MARTIN: So this is going into effect soon - right - like today?

ROSE: Tonight.

MARTIN: Tonight.

ROSE: Yeah.

MARTIN: So this is on the eve of a long holiday weekend, a lot of travel domestically and internationally I imagine. How are they going to prevent the chaos we saw back in January?

ROSE: Well, the State Department says that people who already have visas can still use them to travel and that no one will have a visa canceled because of this.

MARTIN: Yeah.

ROSE: Also, the refugees can be resettled in the U.S. through July 6, so hopefully there will be a little bit less chaos than last time.

MARTIN: NPR's Joel Rose, thanks.

ROSE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.