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Travel ban takes effect but less chaos expected

  • Travelers make their way up the arrival ramp at the Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday. After months of wrangling, tighter restrictions on travel to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim nations took effect Thursday evening after the Supreme Court gave its go-ahead for a limited version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban. AP

  • Samah Hamidi, 25, holds her three-month old son Leith in her family home in Irbid, Jordan on Thursday, June 29, 2017. The family fled the Syrian war in 2012 for Jordan and was in the resettlement pipeline to the U.S. when President Donald Trump's executive order stalled the process. Once sure of his future in the U.S., her hisband, al-Haj Ali had quit his job, sold the furniture and rented an apartment in the city of Rockford near his uncle's home in Illinois. The family still has five suitcases packed but has scant hope for resettlement in America. (AP Photo/Reem Saad) Reem Saad

  • In this June 16, 2017 photo, Khaled Almilaji and his wife Jehan Mouhsen speak to a reporter after reuniting at Pearson International Airport near Toronto. Almilaji, who coordinated a campaign that vaccinated 1.4 million Syrian children and risked his life to provide medical care during the country's civil war, said he won't return to the United States to finish his studies at Brown University because of the Trump administration's travel ban. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via AP) Carlos Osorio

  • Sudanese activist Tayeb Ibrahim, who had worked to expose Sudanese abuses in the volatile South Kordofan province and hopes to see family living in the U.S. state of Iowa, watches television with his son Mohammed, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Dozens of Sudanese activists living in Egypt as refugees, many of whom fled fundamentalist Islamic militias and were close to approval for resettlement in the United States, now face legal limbo in Egypt after the Supreme Court partially reinstated President Donald Trump's travel ban. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) Amr Nabil

  • Protesters wave signs and chant during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban last month outside a federal courthouse in Seattle. The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it. AP file



Associated Press
Thursday, June 29, 2017

A scaled-back version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban took effect Thursday evening, 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., 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 challenge the new requirements and the administration has struggled to explain how they 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 on Thursday 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 fiancés or relatives – such as grandparents, aunts or uncles – not included in the State Department’s definition of “bona fide” personal relationships.

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.

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.