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Who’s in and who’s left out as Trump travel ban takes effect

June 29, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
President Trump’s executive order banning entry into the U.S. from six majority-Muslim countries finally takes effect Thursday after months of legal and political wrangling. The Supreme Court issued a partial green light earlier this week by only allowing those with “bona fide” family or business ties to be allowed in. Judy Woodruff learns more from Yeganeh Torbati of Reuters.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: After months of legal and political wrangling, President Trump’s executive order banning entry into the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries goes into effect tonight.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court gave a partial green light to get started, ordering those with what it called bona fide family or business ties to the U.S. be granted entry. Last night, the Trump administration laid out which connections count.

And joining us to discuss these guidelines is Yeganeh Torbati. She covers the State Department for Reuters.

Yeganeh, welcome back to the program.

So what is the administration saying now about who is permitted in and who isn’t?

YEGANEH TORBATI, Reuters: Right.

From these six countries, and individuals who have certain family connections, so spouses, mothers, fathers, children, siblings, even step-siblings, they can be allowed in. The State Department is counting that as a bona fide connection.

But if you are the grandparents of a U.S. citizen, for instance, or the grandchild, and you are trying to get in and you’re a citizen from one of these six countries, that doesn’t count in the State Department, in the U.S. administration’s view.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And there was also a definition of business relationship.

YEGANEH TORBATI: Right.

So, if you are a student that has been accepted into a U.S. university, someone with an offer of employment from an American company, or even a lecturer coming in to lecture at a conference, for instance, or university, you can be allowed in. But if are you someone who has just booked a hotel room or a tour or something like that, that does not count.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about those people who were in the process of trying to get a visa to come here?

YEGANEH TORBATI: So, any individual who has been granted a visa, those visas are not going to be revoked. They are still valid and they will still be able to come into the United States.

But there’s thousands potentially of people who had applied for visas, they were waiting to hear back. Those individuals, we’re not exactly sure. But I think that is going to be something that now consulate officers will have to take into account these guidelines when they are assessing, are they actually going to give that visa to that person or not?

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Yeganeh, did the administration explain how it made this dividing line when it comes to family relationships?

YEGANEH TORBATI: It seemed a little bit arbitrary from the outside.

What the administration said today to reporters is that they looked at guidelines that they have from the Immigration Nationality Act, which is the main U.S. law that governs U.S. immigration. And they said that that is how they are going to assess which family relationships count and which don’t.

Critics, of course, say that they’re still hewing this line very narrowly, they’re interpreting the Supreme Court ban narrowly, the Supreme Court ruling narrowly, so that they can let in as few people as possible.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So we know this has been subject to litigation. Is it expected there are going to be more lawsuits or does this settle it?

YEGANEH TORBATI: We haven’t seen people, and refugee groups or institutions like the ACLU running yet saying that they are going to be suing over this or filing new complaints. It is certainly a possibility.

One other thing to mention is that the administration seems to be very narrowly interpreting which refugees it’s going to let in. It is saying that just having a relationship to a resettlement agency is not enough, and therefore any additional refugees that will be coming in this year will have to have some family relationship in the United States.

The refugee groups are very upset about that. They think that that violates the spirit, if not the letter of the Supreme Court’s order. And that is something that we’re going to see if there is going to be litigation or not. It doesn’t seem like as of yet there’s been any complaints filed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Yeganeh Torbati with Reuters, thanks very much. This goes into effect tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

YEGANEH TORBATI: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We thank you.

YEGANEH TORBATI: Thank you.

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