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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Friday, June 30, 2017

House Passes Strict Immigration Bills, at Trump’s Urging

New York Times 
June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday voted to crack down on undocumented immigrants and localities that shelter them, approving two bills President Trump has championed but that are certain to meet resistance in the Senate.

The legislation from the Republican-controlled House would increase prison sentences for those re-entering the country illegally and pressure so-called sanctuary cities to comply with federal immigration officials, including through cutting federal funds.

While the measures gave the president a modest, if predictable, win, they would need Democratic support to clear the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, an unlikely prospect.

As Senate Republicans worked on the other side of the Capitol to salvage their health care bill and notch their first major legislative victory of Mr. Trump’s presidency, House Republicans trumpeted the immigration-related bills as common-sense measures to bolster public safety.

John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, made an unusual appearance at the Capitol to praise the bills. He criticized sanctuary cities — a broad term for localities that limit how local law enforcement officials cooperate with federal immigration officials — saying they prioritize “criminals over public and law enforcement officer safety.”

“It is beyond my comprehension why federal, state and local officials sworn to enforce the laws of the nation, as I am, would actively discourage or outright prevent law enforcement agencies from upholding the laws of the United States,” Mr. Kelly told reporters.

The bills touch on immigration issues that were central to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign that he has revisited as president and tried to address through executive action. On Wednesday, meeting with families of victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants, Mr. Trump called on lawmakers to pass the bills.

It was unclear what the fate of the bills would be on the Senate side, though it appeared unlikely senators would pass them as-is. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, one of the few Democrats who voted for similar legislation in recent years, said he would need to review the House legislation before committing.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican, is working on a broader border security bill that would incorporate aspects of both House immigration bills, including defunding sanctuary cities, two Senate aides said.

One of the House bills, known as the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, potentially broadens the pool of money that cities could lose for not cooperating with federal immigration officials. It also seeks to indemnify local law enforcement officials who detain immigrants on behalf of the federal authorities from lawsuits, making the federal government the defendant in such cases. The bill passed 228-195.

In April, a judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked an executive order issued by Mr. Trump that would have tied billions of dollars in federal funding to localities’ willingness to cooperate with immigration enforcement.

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions clarified the order in a way that narrowed both the definition of sanctuary cities and the federal funds they might lose by failing to share information about people’s immigration status with the federal authorities.

The other bill, known as Kate’s Law, stiffens penalties for immigrants guilty of felony re-entry. The bill is named for Kathryn Steinle, who was shot to death in San Francisco in 2015, reportedly by a Mexican laborer who had been deported multiple times and was in the United States illegally. The bill passed 257-167, with 24 Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure.

Saturday is the second anniversary of Ms. Steinle’s death. Her parents sued the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the federal Bureau of Land Management. In January, a judge dismissed the case against the sheriff’s department and ICE, but allowed the case against the Bureau of Land Management to continue.

Mr. Trump, who started his presidential campaign just weeks before Ms. Steinle was killed, pointed to the case at the time as “yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately.”

On Thursday, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the House measures would aim to prevent deaths like Ms. Steinle’s, adding that had the gunman not been in the United States, she would not have been killed.

“He should not have been here,” he said. “And she should not have died.”

Democrats criticized the measures for cutting critical funding for law enforcement and demonizing immigrants.

“This bill perpetuates the fiction that immigrants are inherently criminal,” said Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Some law enforcement officials have also expressed concerns with the legislation. The National Fraternal Order of Police came out against the sanctuary cities bill this week. In a letter to House leadership, the group’s national president, Chuck Canterbury, said, “Law enforcement officers do not get to pick and choose which laws to enforce, and must carry out lawful orders at the direction of their commanders and the civilian government that employs them.”

And the American Civil Liberties Union said the sanctuary cities bill violates the Fourth Amendment by requiring local law enforcement to hold people without due process or probable cause when requested immigration agents.

“These bills are riddled with constitutional violations that completely disregard the civil and human rights of immigrants,” Lorella Praeli, the group’s director of immigration policy and campaigns, said in a statement.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

House Republicans Step Up Pressure on Sanctuary Cities

Wall Street Journal 
By Laura Meckler and Natalie Andrews
June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON—Cities and counties that don’t help federal immigration authorities could lose millions of dollars in federal grants under legislation the House was set to pass Thursday, as Republicans ramped up their battle against so-called sanctuary cities.

The legislation represents the administration’s most aggressive effort yet to force local communities to cooperate with President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration-enforcement policies.

Mr. Trump and his administration regularly spotlight undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, and on Wednesday he met with their victims to urge passage of the bill. “You lost the people that you love because our government refused to enforce our nation’s immigration laws,” he told the group.

The bill, along with a companion enforcement measure, represent a contrast with the comprehensive immigration legislation long pushed by Democrats and some Republicans. Those proposals typically combine enforcement measures with pro-immigrant provisions such as the legalization of people living in the U.S. illegally. But Mr. Trump and his allies in Congress have showed little interest in a bipartisan approach.

Both measures were expected to pass the House on largely party-line votes Thursday, but they face strong opposition in the Senate, where they would need Democratic support to pass.

The first bill, called the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,” primarily aims to persuade local jurisdictions to hold people in jail when asked to do so by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Proponents in the Trump administration and elsewhere say releasing criminals who should be deported makes communities less safe, They add that asking a jail to hold someone for up to 48 hours is a reasonable request.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R. Wis.) said Thursday the bill was an example of GOP lawmakers keeping promises to toughen U.S. immigration laws. “By flagrantly disregarding the rule of law, sanctuary cities are putting lives at risk and we cannot tolerate that,” Mr. Ryan said.

Many local communities don’t honor these ICE “detainer” requests today for a range of reasons. Some say cooperation would undermine trust in law enforcement in immigrant communities, making legal and illegal immigrants less likely to report crimes. Some cite court rulings that found local communities are liable if someone such as a U.S. citizen is wrongly held based on inaccurate information.

The Obama administration also wanted local jurisdictions to honor detainer requests, but tried to persuade rather than pressure local leaders to go along.

Under the legislation, jurisdictions would lose federal grants from the Justice and Homeland Security departments if they enact policies restricting assistance with the enforcement of federal immigration law.

In addition, it attempts to change the legal incentives for cities and counties. It protects those that honor detainers from being sued, by promising the federal government will take jurisdiction’s place in potential lawsuits. And the bill enables crime victims to sue jurisdictions that don’t comply if they are harmed by someone who is released.

“Why would the Republicans be for federalizing local law enforcement?,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D., Calif.), saying that it goes against the GOP’s usual goal to restrict the power of federal government in local jurisdictions. “They should trust the local law enforcement to administer local laws as they see fit.”

A second measure also up for a vote Thursday would increase penalties for people with felony convictions who are deported from the U.S. and then return. Dubbed “Kate’s law,” it’s named for Kate Steinle, who in 2015 was killed in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times before and kept coming back.

“Repeatedly deported offenders represent disproportionately a great deal of crime,” said Darrell Issa, a California Republican. “America will be safer and people will be in the countries they came from, rather than this country if we enforce our laws.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said many members oppose allowing illegal immigrants who have committed a crime back into the country but fear the bill overstates the problem. Others noted that people could be punished simply for arriving at a U.S. port seeking asylum.

“It’s stupid, it has nothing to do with the criminal act that was done against Kate Steinle, which was a terrible thing,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.) in an interview. She said elements in the bill intended to prevent illegal immigration wouldn’t have prevented Ms. Steinle’s death.

Write to Laura Meckler at laura.meckler@wsj.com and Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) is the House minority whip. In an earlier version of this article, he was incorrectly identified as the House minority leader.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Trump's immigration sell

By Ted Hesson
June 29, 2017

TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION SELL: The House is expected to take up two immigration bills today, one that would crack down on so-called sanctuary cities and another that would increase penalties for people who reenter the U.S. multiple times after a deportation.

President Donald Trump threw his support behind both bills this week. On Wednesday, Trump met at the White House with victims of crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants and lauded the Republican lawmakers who crafted the legislation, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The White House later issued a press release that tallied Trump’s accomplishments in the enforcement area, from increased arrests to (yet unfulfilled) plans to build a border wall.

The bills should sail through the Republican-controlled House, but odds are that’s as far as they will go. In recent years, House Republicans have ushered through similar bills only to see them go nowhere in the Senate, where Democrats would shoot them down. Morning Shift consulted three Senate Democratic aides who all said they expect to see the same thing happen this time. Republicans will “run into a resistance wall if they try to jam these two pieces through,” one aide said. Read the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” here and “Kate’s Law” here.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Homeland Security Secretary touts immigration bills

The Hill 
By Rafael Bernal
June 29, 2017

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly praised two immigration bills up for a House vote Thursday and called out Democrats who oppose the bills and his immigration enforcement methods.

Kelly said the two bills, Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, will help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents uphold existing immigration laws.

He spoke briefly at Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) weekly press conference and left without taking questions from reporters.

Kelly offered harsh criticism for Democrats who have accused him of pursuing an anti-immigrant agenda.

“I am offended when members of this institution pressure and often threaten me and my officers to ignore the laws they make and I am sworn to uphold,” Kelly said.

The immigration bills are expected to pass the House comfortably but will face a 60-vote threshold if they are considered in the Senate.

“I look forward to passage of these bills and then we’ll turn to our friends in the United States Senate, where these bills should be passed promptly,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where both bills originated.

Kate’s Law, named in honor of Kate Steinle, who was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco in 2015, would stiffen penalties for criminals who attempt to illegally re-enter the country.

The law’s critics say the language fails to adequately distinguish between criminals and otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants or asylum seekers who attempt to enter the United States.

The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act punishes so-called sanctuary cities — jurisdictions that refuse full cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement — by restricting federal funds to those jurisdictions.

Ryan said the bills would help DHS immigration enforcement agencies more effectively accomplish their mission.

“Our job is to make sure that those professionals have the tools that they need and the resources that they need to carry out their work and protect our communities, that is what these measures are all about,” he said.

The bills were pulled from a larger Republican immigration proposal, the Davis-Oliver Act, which Democrats have called an “anti-immigrant” measure.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), the newly appointed chairman of the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, said he is looking forward to bringing the full Davis-Oliver Act to the House floor.

“To me the most ironic thing about this whole debate is that most of the people who’ve come to the United States illegally come here because they’re fleeing countries where the law is not enforced,” he said.

“And yet some people on the other side want to turn this country into the countries that they’re fleeing from,” said Labrador.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

House-Passed Immigration Bills Have Murky Future in Senate

Roll Call 
By Dean DeChiaro
June 30, 2017

The bills are the first major pieces of immigration legislation taken up by the Republican-led Congress since President Donald Trump took office. Unlike former President Barack Obama, who had threatened to veto such measures, Trump has said he would sign both bills.

But votes in the Senate as recently as last year have shown that measures dealing with immigration policy on a piecemeal basis, especially those viewed by Democrats as racially motivated and aimed at broadly painting immigrants as dangerous, are not likely to meet the Senate’s 60-vote threshold required to advance most legislation.

“To the extent that 60 [votes are still required], I would expect we’d be able to sustain,” New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said.

Menendez, a member of the bipartisan “gang of eight” that helped usher a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill through the Senate in 2013, acknowledged that while some Democrats chose to vote with Republicans on enforcement bills in the past, “many more did not.”

Last year, Senate Democrats succeeded in blocking two bills that bore striking similarities to those passed by the House on Thursday. But they saw defections from Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, all of whom are among a group of 10 incumbent Democrats facing re-election battles in states won by Trump last fall.

With 52 members in their conference, Republicans would need to attract the votes of eight Democrats.

Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat running up for re-election in Pennsylvania — a state that Trump won — noted that he had voted against both bills last year despite the threat of being tagged as “soft on crime” or “soft on illegal immigration” by a GOP opponent.

“I have no doubt the attack is coming,” he said. “They’re right out of the Republican playbook.”

Liberal House Democrats such as Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez are nervous about the prospect of the bills going to the Senate floor. The Illinois lawmaker urged his moderate Senate colleagues to oppose them.

“Sometimes Democrats have to stand up for justice and against racial profiling when it is the right thing to do and the chips are down,” he said on the House floor Thursday. “Well, the chips are down. Every Latino family and every immigrant is going to remember who stood up for them.”

House Republicans pushed back on the anti-immigrant narrative, portraying the bills throughout the week as a way to crack down on criminals and local governments that protect them. They received a boost from Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, who appeared at a news conference with Speaker Paul D. Ryan to urge final passage.

“The word ‘sanctuary’ calls to mind some place safe. Instead these cities are places that allow some criminals to go free, undermine federal law enforcement and make our communities less safe,” Kelly said.

The sanctuary cities bill, passed 228-195 by the House, would tighten existing statutes to bar local governments from imposing policies that prohibit police officers “from assisting or cooperating” with federal immigration agents. It would also establish new probable cause standards allowing federal authorities to more easily detain undocumented immigrants held in local jails.

The second bill is named after Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was shot and killed on July 1, 2015, by an undocumented repeat felon with prior deportations. The measure, passed 257-167, would establish new penalties for undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions who re-enter the U.S. illegally after having been previously deported.

Both measures are sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va.

Twenty-four House Democrats voted for the measure named after Steinle, as Trump praised passage of these bills.

“The implementation of these policies will make our communities safer,” the president said in a statement. “Opposing these bills, and allowing dangerous criminals back into our communities, our schools, and the neighborhoods where our children play, puts all of us at risk.”

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

DHS chief says members of Congress ‘threaten’ him over immigration enforcement

Washington Times 
By Stephen Dinan
June 29, 2017

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said Thursday that members of Congress have tried to “threaten” him over his department’s stepped up enforcement of the immigration laws they wrote, and called for even stiffer laws to punish sanctuary cities and repeat-illegal immigrants.

Mr. Kelly said he was “offended” by those lawmakers — who he didn’t name — who he said “often threaten me and my officers” when they try to enforce laws that call for the deportation of illegal immigrants.

It’s the latest blunt criticism from the retired Marine general, who has previously told members of Congress to “shut up” rather than criticize him over the laws they wrote.

He appeared Thursday on Capitol Hill with Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republicans, hours before the House was slated to vote on two new crackdown laws.

One would increase penalties on illegal immigrants who have been deported yet snuck back into the U.S. and later committed other crimes. That bill is named Kate’s law, after Kathryn Steinle, the woman killed by an illegal immigrant two years ago while walking the San Francisco waterfront with her father.

The other new bill would punish so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to let authorities cooperate with federal immigration officers trying to deport illegal immigrants.

Mr. Kelly said sanctuary cities aren’t actually sanctuaries, but rather make their communities more dangerous by shielding illegal immigrants.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Limits on travel to US issued after Supreme Court ruling

Associated Press 
By Matthew Lee
June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is putting new criteria in place Thursday for visa applicants from six mostly Muslim nations and all refugees, requiring a close family or business tie to the United States. The move comes after the Supreme Court partially restored President Donald Trump’s executive order that was widely criticized as a ban on Muslims.

Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked. The should help avoid the kind of chaos at airports around the world that surrounded the initial travel ban, as travelers with previously approved visas were kept off flights or barred entry on arrival in the United States. Also, while the initial order took effect immediately, adding to the confusion, this one was delayed more than 72 hours after the court’s ruling.

The new instructions issued by the State Department will affect new visa applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen. They must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible. The same requirement, with some exceptions, holds for would-be refugees from all nations that are still awaiting approval for admission to the U.S.

Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be close relations, according to the guidelines that were issued in a cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late on Wednesday. The new rules take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday (0000GMT on Friday), according to the cable, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

As far as business or professional links are concerned, the State Department said, a legitimate relationship must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules. A hotel reservation or car rental contract, even if it was pre-paid, would also not count, it said.

Consular officers may grant other exemptions to applicants from the six nations if they have “previously established significant contacts with the United States;” ‘’significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S.; if they are an infant, adopted child or in need of urgent medical care; if they are traveling for business with a recognized international organization or the U.S. government or if they are a legal resident of Canada who applies for a visa in Canada, according to the cable.

There were no major problems reported in the hours after the guidelines were issued. The Middle East’s biggest airline says its flights to the United States are operating as normal. Dubai-based Emirates reminded passengers that they “must possess the appropriate travel documents, including a valid U.S. entry visa, in order to travel.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court partially lifted lower court injunctions against Trump’s executive order that had temporarily banned visas for citizens of the six countries. The justices’ ruling exempted applicants from the ban if they could prove a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity, but the court offered only broad guidelines — suggesting they would include a relative, job offer or invitation to lecture in the U.S. — as to how that should be defined.

Senior officials from the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security had labored since then to design guidelines that would comply with the ruling. Wednesday’s instructions were the result. The new guidance will remain in place until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling on the matter. Arguments before the justices will not be held until at least October, so the interim rules will remain in place at least until the fall.

Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered the refugee ban and a travel ban affecting the six countries, plus Iraq. He said it was needed to protect the U.S. from terrorists, but opponents said it was unfairly harsh and was intended to meet his campaign promise to keep Muslims out of the United States.

After a federal judge struck down the bans, Trump signed a revised order intended to overcome legal hurdles. That was also struck down by lower courts, but the Supreme Court’s action partially reinstated it.

The new rules will also affect would-be immigrants from the six countries who win visas in the government’s diversity lottery — a program that randomly awards 50,000 green cards annually to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. They will also have to prove they have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S. or that they are eligible for another waiver. If they, can’t they face being banned for at least 90 days.

That may be a difficult hurdle, as many visa lottery winners don’t have relatives in the U.S. or jobs in advance of arriving in the country.

Generally, winners in the diversity lottery only need prove they were born in an eligible county and have completed high school or have at least two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two other years of training or experience.


Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Travel ban was on, then off. Now it’s back, but different

Associated Press 
By Alicia A. Caldwell
June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s first, temporary ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations was short-lived, but it sparked confusion, panic and anger that lasted through months of court rulings. The Supreme Court is now taking up the case in the fall. In the meantime, the government can enforce parts of a second version of Trump’s order.

So what’s new this time?



Old order: Three-month ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including those who had valid visas but were outside the United States when the ban was signed.

Supreme Court version: Iraq has been dropped from the ban.

For 90 days, the government can bar new visa applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Libya who can’t prove they have a “bona fide relationship” with close relatives or a business in the United States. The State Department says valid relationships include a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid, formal invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. will also be welcome.

Refugees hoping to come to the United States who aren’t already approved for travel must now also prove one of these relationships. Otherwise, they’ll be barred for 120 days.



Old order: Syrian visitors, immigrants and refugees were barred from the United States indefinitely.

Supreme Court version: Syrians will be treated in the same manner as citizens of the other five designated countries.



Old order: Four-month halt to refugees entering the United States.

Supreme Court version: The refugee ban will be in place for 120 days. But refugees already vetted and approved for travel through July 6 will be allowed to move to the United States. The “bona fide relationship” standard applies after a cap of 50,000 refugees that Trump set for the fiscal year is met. That is likely to happen soon. The new rules will likely affect refugees in the next fiscal year, which starts in October. The Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the ban that same month.



Old order: The Jan. 27 order was immediately put into place, causing chaos and panic at airports as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out who was covered by the order and how it was to be implemented.

Supreme Court version: It goes into effect about 8 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, more than 72 hours after the Supreme Court issued its opinion.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

More court challenges expected for Trump’s new travel ban

Associated Press 
By Alicia A. Caldwell and Matthew Lee
June 30, 2017

WASHINGTON — A scaled-back version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban is now in force, stripped of provisions that brought protests and chaos at airports worldwide in January yet still likely to generate a new round of court fights.

The new rules, the product of months of legal wrangling, aren’t so much an outright ban as a tightening of already-tough visa policies affecting citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. Refugees are covered, too.

Administration officials promised that implementation this time, which started at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), would be orderly. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Dan Hetlage said his agency expected “business as usual at our ports of entry,” with all valid visa holders still being able to travel.

Still, immigration and refugee advocates are vowing to challenge the new requirements and the administration has struggled to explain how the rules will make the United States safer.

Under the temporary rules, citizens of Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen who already have visas will be allowed into the United States. But people from those countries who want new visas will now have to prove a close family relationship or an existing relationship with an entity like a school or business in the U.S.

It’s unclear how significantly the new rules will affect travel. In most of the countries singled out, few people have the means for leisure travel. Those that do already face intensive screenings before being issued visas.

Nevertheless, human rights groups girded for new legal battles. The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups challenging the ban, called the new criteria “extremely restrictive,” ‘’arbitrary” in their exclusions and designed to “disparage and condemn Muslims.”

The state of Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday asking a federal judge to clarify that the administration cannot enforce the ban against relatives — such as grandparents, aunts or uncles — not included in the State Department’s definition of “bona fide” personal relationships.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer met with customs officials and said he felt things would go smoothly.

“For tonight, I’m anticipating few issues because, I think, there’s better preparation,” he told reporters at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday night. “The federal government here, I think, has taken steps to avoid the havoc that occurred the last time.”

Much of the confusion in January, when Trump’s first ban took effect, resulted from travelers with previously approved visas being kept off flights or barred entry on arrival in the United States. Immigration officials were instructed Thursday not to block anyone with valid travel documents and otherwise eligible to visit the United States.

Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the rules “would slam the door shut on so many who have waited for months or years to be reunited with their families.”

Trump, who made a tough approach to immigration a cornerstone of his election campaign, issued a ban on travelers from the six countries, plus Iraq, shortly after taking office in January. His order also blocked refugees from any country.

Trump said these were temporary measures needed to prevent terrorism until vetting procedures could be reviewed. Opponents noted that visa and refugee vetting were already strict and said there was no evidence that refugees or citizens of those six countries posed a threat. They saw the ban as part of Trump’s campaign promise to bar Muslims from entering the United States.

Lower courts blocked the initial ban and a second, revised Trump order intended to overcome legal hurdles. The Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated the revised ban but exempted travelers who could prove a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity. The court offered only broad guidelines.

In guidance issued late Wednesday, the State Department said the personal relationships would include a parent, spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States. It does not include other relationships such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles. On Thursday, the State and Homeland Security departments had both expanded the range of bona fide relationships to include fiancés.

Business or professional links must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules.

Refugees from any country will face similar requirements. But the U.S. has almost filled its quota of 50,000 refugees for the budget year ending in September and the new rules won’t apply to the few remaining slots. With the Supreme Court set to consider the overall ban in October, the rules could change again.

The travel ban may have the largest impact on Iranians. In 2015, the most recently available data, nearly 26,000 Iranians were allowed into the United States on visitor or tourist visas. Iranians made up the lion’s share of the roughly 65,000 foreigners from the six countries who visited with temporary, or non-immigrant visas that year.

American journalist Paul Gottinger said he and his Iranian fiancee applied for a visa nearly a year ago but are still waiting on a decision. Gottinger says they were to wed at a Japanese garden in his parents’ home state of Minnesota this month but postponed the ceremony until August because they had not yet received the visa.

Now, he expects they will have to delay again.

“Every twist and turn of the courts, we’re holding our hearts and our stomachs are falling to the floor,” he said by phone from Turkey.

The new regulations are also affecting the wedding plans of Rama Issa-Ibrahim, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.

She is Syrian-American and had planned to get married this fall. While her father in Syria may be able to get a visa, her aunts and uncles may well be blocked.

“I would love for them to be at this wedding, and unfortunately, they aren’t going to be able to be here,” she said, adding that the ceremony would be postponed.


Associated Press writers Amy Taxin and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles and Michael Noble in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com