Trump admin appeals travel ban refugee ruling to Supreme Court

Lucy Bush
September 12, 2017

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed with a request from the Trump administration and blocked a federal appeals court ruling temporarily lifting restrictions on the president's travel ban.

The ruling would have taken affect on Tuesday, reopening the door to 24,000 people left in limbo by President Donald Trump's on-again off-again travel ban. The ruling would have allowed refugees to enter the country if they obtained promises of assistance from refugee resettlement organisations.

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The high court on June 26 cleared part of the ban to take effect in the meantime, while saying the USA had to admit at least some people with close relatives in the U.S. That filing, by Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, demonstrated the lengths to which the government is willing to go to impose its desired version of the ban, even before the high court takes up in earnest next month whether the measure is lawful at its core. The Justice Department said it disagreed with that interpretation, but noted the U.S. Supreme Court had refused to disturb that finding pending appeal.

That put the broader legal challenges to the travel ban - which halts all refugees and travelers from six mostly Muslim countries - off until an expected Supreme Court review on October 10.

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The Supreme Court's decision came not long after the Justice Department asked the justices to act. Last week, the 9th Circuit said that grandparents are close relatives and therefore - according to an earlier Supreme Court order - may not be denied entry under the disputed travel ban.

The debates here, now before the Supreme Court, have centered around what constitutes such a "bona fide relationship".

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In a one-sentence order issued Monday afternoon, Justice Anthony Kennedy - who has jurisdiction over the 9th circuit - granted the government a temporary stay until Tuesday in order to give the challengers time to respond to the government's petition. The district court also found that "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in- law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States" count as "close familial relationships" exempted from the travel ban. By that point, the original 90-day travel ban will have lapsed and the 120-day refugee ban will have just a few weeks to run.

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