DHS and DOS Implementation of Executive Order Imposing Travel and Refugee Ban

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Compiled by Diya A. Mathews1

Executive Order EO 13780 bans immigrant and nonimmigrant entries for nationals of six designated countries – Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – for at least 90 days beginning on March 16, 2017.

On March 15, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order on implementation of the 90-day travel ban and the 120-day ban on U.S. refugee program.  On July 13, 2017, the U.S. District Court, modified the preliminary injunction to prevent the government from enforcing the travel ban against individuals from the six affected countries who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. The District Court concluded that the travel ban cannot be enforced against:

  • Grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States; and
  • Refugees who have a formal assurance from a resettlement agency in the United States or who are part of the Lautenberg Program.

On July 19, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order staying in part, and upholding in part, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii’s July 13, 2017 decision. Specifically, the Supreme Court stayed the District Court’s July 13, 2017 injunction with respect to refugees with the result that refugees who have a formal assurance from a U.S. resettlement agency may be banned, as they are unable to establish a “bona fide relationship” with an entity in the United States. Refugees who are part of the Lautenberg program, however, should be permitted to travel and enter the United States, as the Lautenberg program requires a relationship with a close family member in U.S. in order to qualify for the program. On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the District Court’s order modifying the preliminary injunction with respect to grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States. Accordingly, these individuals remain exempt from the EO 13780 travel ban as they fall within the definition of “close familial relationship” per the District Court’s July 13, 2017 ruling.

1Compiled from AILA resources

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