Update: On July 19th, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a lower court to expand the State Department’s definition of which “bona fide relationships” exempt people from the travel ban. As a result, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and grandchildren will be exempt, as well as sisters- and brothers-in-law. However, the court overturned another part of the ruling to that would have allowed refugees to enter the country if they already had a contract with a resettlement agency. This could impact as many as 24,000 refugees.
On June 29, a partial version of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban went into effect, after a Supreme Court ruling Monday cleared the way.
You may have questions. Here’s what we know.
1. This is just the latest—and not the last—development in the travel ban debate.
The first executive order, issued on January 27, prompted a firestorm of debate. A week later, a district judge blocked the order from going into effect. A week after that, a panel of three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against reinstating the ban.
In March, President Trump argued that the ban was needed to stop “uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.” A few days later, he issued a new version of the travel ban that was slightly different from the original. The state of Hawaii immediately filed suit and a district judge blocked the ban before it ever went into effect. That decision was unanimously upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The White House appealed to the Supreme Court, and earlier this week, the court agreed to hear the case in October.
In the meantime, part of the ban has been reinstated. It went into effect last night.
2. This travel ban affects fewer people than the original, but will still have a sweeping impact.
This order imposes a 90-day travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen—and halts the entry of all refugees into the U.S. for 120 days.
The court ruled that the ban would not apply to those with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Just before the ban went into effect the State Department clarified that only “close, familial relationships” count for this exemption, which they define as a parent, spouse, fiancee, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling. Other familial ties and extended family—including cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents—were excluded.
In addition, the travel ban will not apply to U.S. citizens, dual nationals, green card holders, current visa holders, anyone who’s been granted asylum, refugees already admitted to the U.S., and any visa applicant who was in the U.S. as of June 26. The court also ruled that visas already granted will not be revoked. Essentially, those who already have travel documents will still be able to travel.
3. The Supreme Court hearing might be too late.
Both the 90-day travel ban and the 120-day halt on the refugee program will expire by the time the court reviews the case in October. So, while a decision will clarify for future cases about discrimination based on religion or nationality and executive authority over immigration issues, it will be too late to affect the implementation of this executive order.
In addition, the U.S. is likely to reach President Trump’s annual cap of 50,000 of refugees as early as next week, which would make the refugee ban moot.
4. This version is as hotly debated as the original.
Supporters argue that this ban is necessary for national security—that it will give Homeland Security some time to shore up vetting systems and prevent terrorists from exploiting the refugee program and other travel systems. Some, including several Supreme Court judges, even argue that this limited version of the ban is insufficient for what needs to happen.
Opponents believe that halting the refugee program is inhumane for victims of violence, war, and persecution who are desperately seeking safety. They also point to the fact that all of the targeted countries are Muslim-majority and argue that the order is essentially a fulfillment of the president’s promised “Muslim ban.” Pro-refugee groups also objected to the State Department’s original, limited definition of a ‘bona fide relationship,” arguing that it should include more extended family members like grandparents. They are particularly concerned about how this will effect orphans and unaccompanied minors who have no familial connections at all.
5. The real issue is more complicated and less partisan than either side makes it seem.
This debate has become so polarized that we have lost sight of each other’s humanity. We just pick our side and line up in direct opposition to the other. But that dehumanizes everyone on the other side. And it’s just not that simple.
People in the U.S. have the right to safety. As do refugees and people from the six countries included in the ban. When we pit one side’s safety against the other, we make a statement about whose life has more value.
When we attack people who disagree with us about the ban or call them names, we oversimplify their thought-process and perspective. Which is to say, we dehumanize them. And we've got to stop that.
But… when it comes to issues of humanity, we must always be on the side of the most vulnerable. And when our policies and political debates reduce all refugees or middle eastern Muslims to “potential terrorists,” it dehumanizes them. This new travel ban might be more reasonable than previous versions, but it still paints a picture of our refugee friends that we don’t recognize. And acknowledging people's full humanity is not—or at least should not—be partisan.
We believe we should see each other—refugees, Muslims, Christians, Republicans, Democrats, everyone—as people. Not as enemies. Not as potential threats. Not because there’s no risk, but because love is always risky. And even when the world is scary as hell, we choose to love anyway.