High Court Puts Brakes on Plan to Bring Refugees to US

(CN) – The U.S. Supreme Court granted the Trump administration a stay in the ongoing travel ban case, meaning refugees from six Muslim-majority countries will be not be allowed into the United States.

Justice Anthony Kennedy granted the Trump administration’s request for a temporary stay on Monday afternoon, but said the ruling was only a placeholder while the court considers a more fully considered ruling expected later this week.

The ruling affects about 24,000 refugees from Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Syria, all of whom have been contacted by resettlement agencies.

Monday’s ruling comes in response to the Trump administration’s request earlier in the day to stay a Ninth Circuit order and allow authorities to continue deny refugees six Muslim-majority countries in North Africa and the Middle East entry into the United States.

“This court’s immediate intervention is thus needed once more,” acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall wrote in the application for a stay, filed Monday morning. “The court of appeals’ decision will disrupt the status quo and frustrate orderly implementation of the order’s refugee provisions that this court made clear months ago could take effect.”

The Justice Department’s request applies to only the part of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling involving refugee resettlement, essentially conceding the legal battle over whether grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces of those living in the United States have a “bona fide relationship” to the country.

Instead, Monday’s request involves about 24,000 refugees who have received assurances from various resettlement agencies that they will be placed in the United States.

A three-judge Ninth Circuit panel ruled last week that the Trump administration must admit those refugees, but federal officials say doing so will disrupt national security processes and flouts the Supreme Court’s initial stay on the matter.

President Donald Trump signed the first travel ban on Jan. 27, barring entry to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan and Libya. The executive order faced immediate legal challenges and a federal judge put implementation of the order on hold.

The Trump administration revised the executive order on March 16, eliminating Iraq from the list and making a few other slight revisions.

This ban was also challenged in court, with a federal judge again granting an injunction against implementation of the revised ban.

In both cases, the Justice Department appealed to the Ninth Circuit and in both cases lost. But Trump appealed the revised travel ban to the Supreme Court, which effected a compromise: the ban could not apply to people with a bona fide relationship to the United States.

The most recent legal bouts have related to the attempt to define the scope of bona fide relationship.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, who stayed implementation of the second travel ban, also ruled the Trump administration’s interpretation of bona fide was too narrow. He also ruled that some refugees already in the system should be allowed entry.

On Monday, the Justice Department essentially conceded that extended family members of U.S. residents have a bona fide relationship to the United States, but said the Ninth Circuit made a crucial error in relying on Watson’s ruling to determine whether the refugee resettlement programs can move forward.

“The court of appeals did not even attempt to reconcile its decision with this court’s July 19 order,” the government wrote. “Instead, the court of appeals deferred to the district court’s interpretation of this court’s June 26 stay ruling.”

The Supreme Court is slated to hear oral argument on the legality of the entire travel ban on Oct. 19.

 

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