Supreme Court Justices Block Lifting of Travel Ban for Refugees

(CN) – The U.S. Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a temporary legal victory Tuesday afternoon, staying an order by the Ninth Circuit that would have struck down President Donald Trump’s ban on 24,000 refugees from settling in the United States.

The single-paragraph order issued late Tuesday bars U.S. entry to refugees from six predominately Muslim nations who have received formal assurances from resettlement agencies. The high court’s unsigned order reverses a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel, which found this past week that the refugees have a “bona fide relationship” with the United States and are thus exempt from the part of Trump’s revised travel ban temporarily greenlighted by the Supreme Court pending appeal.

Trump’s travel ban seeks to prevent nationals from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, which his administration says is necessary for national security.

The affected nations include Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Syria.

However, after Trump signed the executive order in January and a revised one in March, state attorneys general sued the administration saying the travel ban was motivated more by discrimination against Muslims than national-security considerations.

Hawaii sued in March and was granted a temporary injunction barring the Trump administration from implementing the travel ban, an order that later affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.

The Justice Department then appealed to the Supreme Court, which drew up a preliminary compromise that allowed the implementation of the travel ban while exempting those who have a bona fide relationship to the United States.

Both sides fought over the scope of “bona fide relationship,” with Hawaii saying grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins should be allowed in and the Trump administration arguing for a narrower interpretation.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson once again sided with Hawaii, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed Watson’s decision last week.

While the Justice Department essentially conceded a bona fide relationship for extended family members of U.S. citizens and residents, it said the Ninth Circuit failed to rely on the Supreme Court’s guidance when it ruled 24,000 refugees who’ve been in contact with resettlement agencies could travel to the United States.

The Trump administration requested a stay of that order, and Justice Anthony Kennedy – who is assigned emergency motions originating in the Ninth Circuit – temporarily granted it on Monday before the full court granted the stay on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments on the overarching legality of the travel ban on Oct. 10, though the stay will likely remain in place until a decision is issued.


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