Los Angeles Times
By Jaweed Kaleem
June 29, 2017
Immigration groups across the country scrambled Thursday to dispatch lawyers to international airports and staff up helplines as they waited in apprehension for a revived version of President Trump’s travel ban expected to become effective late in the day.
The Supreme Court partially revived the travel ban this week, saying it could proceed as long as people with close ties to the U.S., such as employment, university admission or family, could bypass its restrictions.
Government officials said the ban would go into effect at 5 p.m. Pacific time and promised “business as usual,” while immigration lawyers said they were preparing for any problems.
Some groups fear people who have been given permission to enter the U.S. could be turned away upon landing or that visas may be abruptly canceled, which happened frequently in January during the rollout of Trump’s initial travel ban and led to several lawsuits.
“We aren’t sure what to expect,” said Sarah Owings, the former chair of the Georgia/Alabama chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Assn., who said her group was starting shifts at 4 p.m. Eastern time at the international terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“We are prepared with attorney volunteer shifts both on the ground at the airport and remotely to assist in preparation of documents as needed,” Owings said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild said they were sending lawyers to Los Angeles International Airport beginning at 2 p.m. Pacific. Immigration advocates at Washington, D.C., and New York City-area airports said they were also dispatching volunteers to help refugees and travelers from six restricted nations.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday in a background briefing, U.S. officials said they interpreted the Supreme Court’s order to mean that visitors from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen must have a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the U.S. to be approved for travel. Similar requirements would apply for refugees who have not yet received permission to resettle in the U.S.
The guidelines, which were sent to embassies and consulates around the globe, do not count grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiances or other extended family members as “close” relations whose presence in the U.S. would allow people blocked by the travel ban to still enter the country.
The rules apply for 90 days to the six countries and 120 days for refugees from any country.
“We expect business as usual at the ports of entry,” a senior administration official said in the briefing. Trump administration officials said that people who had visa appointments at embassies and consulates should still apply for travel and would be evaluated on a “case-by-case” basis. They also said that consular officials, as before, would have the ability to waive restrictions in individual cases.
Administration officials said refugees who are booked for travel through July 6 — whether they had a family connection or other qualified connection to the U.S. or not — would be allowed into the country. The fate of refugees after that date was still being decided, they said. Refugee groups have argued that they should count as U.S. connections that allow travelers to bypass the travel ban but government officials said that wasn’t clear.
Immigrant and refugee advocates said the guidelines did not go far enough and left confusion.
“The clarification we have received in the last 24 hours regarding the ‘bona fide relationship’ language is disheartening as it excludes many individuals,” Owings said.
Johnathan Smith, legal director of the civil rights groups Muslim Advocates, described the guidelines as “extremely disappointing and troubling.”
The Trump administration has said that the countries have ties to terrorism and that it needs to pause travel to reevaluate U.S. security vetting procedures. Refugee and immigrant groups that have sued say the administration is getting started on a campaign promise to suspend all Muslim immigration.
The Supreme Court indicated its move was a temporary compromise while it waits to hear arguments over the travel ban lawsuits in the fall.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com