Supreme Court Deals Trump Partial Blow in Travel Ban Order

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the State of Hawaii today, denying a Trump administration request to include grandparents and other relatives in the so-called travel ban.

In its short order, the nation’s highest court agreed with a ruling by a federal district court last week that expanded the list of family-based exceptions to President Trump’s March 6 executive order. After the Supreme Court allowed a scaled-back version of the travel ban to proceed last month, the federal government issued guidance on enforcement, originally stipulating that only spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons- and daughters-in-law, fiancés, and siblings of individuals already in the United States would be exempted from the order.

Effects of the Order

As we reported to our readers this week, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson sided with the State of Hawaii in this latest legal battle associated with the travel ban. Calling the government’s definition of close family relatives “the antithesis of common sense,” Judge Watson ruled that family members exempted from the travel ban must include grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, and brothers- and sisters-in-law.

Pursuant to today’s Supreme Court order, citizens of the six targeted countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—with such relationships to a person in the U.S. will not be barred from admission into the country.

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision was not a complete loss for the Trump administration, however. Judge Watson’s expansion of refugees exempted from the ban on the basis of a relationship with a U.S. resettlement agency was stayed by the justices, pending consideration of a separate appeal of this matter by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. (Earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit appellate court enjoined President Trump’s executive order in both of its iterations, before the Supreme Court ultimately allowed the travel ban to go into effect on June 26.) According to court filings, this aspect of the decision could prohibit nearly 25,000 refugees with a connection to a U.S. resettlement agency from entering the country.

Three of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices—including President Trump’s appointee, Neil Gorsuch—would have sided with the federal government entirely, and thereby maintain the narrower list of relatives the Trump administration first proposed.

Next Steps

Notwithstanding other potential challenges to the government’s enforcement of the travel ban, all eyes will be on the Ninth Circuit for a decision on the refugee-related portion of Judge Watson’s ruling. And later this fall, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the executive order. We learned today that this is scheduled for October 10.

At present, citizens of the targeted countries who can prove legitimate travel needs on the basis of the expanded list of familial relationships decided by the Supreme Court today, or on the basis of business ties will not be barred from the U.S. Our firm is continuing to monitor the situation, both in the courts and in practice.  

This is a developing news story, and as more information becomes available, updates will be published on our news section.

Former U.S. Consular officer, Attorney Sechyi Laiu joined Zhang & Associates, P.C. on June 26, 2017

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu specializes on Consular Processing cases and business development. Attorney Laiu also focuses on TN visas, E visas, CBP administrative proceedings (monetary confiscation, deferred inspection), and overseas financial compliance.

Prior to joining Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu worked for the U.S. Department of State as a Chinese and Portuguese speaking diplomat. As a consular-coned officer who served in Vancouver (Canada), Shenyang (P.R. China), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Attorney Laiu processed over 30,000 visa cases and worked in every section of Consular Affairs overseas (Fraud Prevention Unit, Immigrant Visas, Non-Immigrant Visas, and American Citizen Services).

He will use his experience and expertise to deliver the highest quality of service to our clients.

Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients worldwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled over ten thousand immigration cases.

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