The Trump administration released guidance last night on how it will implement the Muslim ban going forward – and it’s ugly.
As we wrote yesterday, the Supreme Court on Monday said that the Trump administration could proceed with its Muslim ban while awaiting the court’s review, but only against people who have no “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Supreme Court used that broad language to try to ensure that the implementation of the ban would “not burden any American party.”
The Supreme Court gave a few examples of what would constitute a “bona fide relationship.” For example, the court said that the ban can’t currently be applied to people with a “close familial relationship” to someone in the United States. The court specified that that “clearly” would include the mother-in-law of someone in the United States. Yet the Trump administration announced yesterday evening that grandparents and grandchildren, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, brothers- and sisters-in-law, and cousins all would not count – those individuals would all be banned.
Are grandparents "close" relatives? Not according to the Trump administration.
Not only is the government’s policy pointlessly cruel, it’s also clearly inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s order. The court particularly mentioned mothers-in-law because one of the plaintiffs in Trump v. Hawaii is suing so that his mother-in-law can visit him in Hawaii.
Mother-in-law jokes aside, it’s impossible to reconcile the Supreme Court’s recognition that the relationship between a son-in-law and a mother-in-law is “clearly” “close” with the Trump administration’s view that the relationship between a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law is not “close.” Nor is there any reason to think it more of a burden to be separated from your mother-in-law than to be separated from your grandmother or your aunt. At most family events in America, like a wedding or funeral or graduation ceremony or birthday party, all these relations might be expected to attend. But under the Trump administration’s policy, all would now be barred.
In short, because the Supreme Court didn’t enumerate every single type of close familial relationship, the Trump administration is trying to keep American Muslims’ grandparents, grandkids, aunts, uncles, and more out of the country.
Although it’s no surprise from this administration, it’s nevertheless disappointing to see that Trump and his team are still trying to ban as many Muslims as they think they can get away with.
To recap: The first iteration of the Muslim ban applied even to legal permanent residents of the United States. In the face of widespread public outrage, the administration retreated from that position. But the Muslim ban was still unconstitutional, and multiple federal courts blocked it. So Trump again retreated slightly – watering it down, in his words. But the second executive order was still a Muslim ban – and still unconstitutional – and multiple federal courts blocked it, too.
Now, once again, Trump is gratuitously overstepping his legal authority in his relentless quest to keep as many Muslims out as he possibly can. It won’t work. The plaintiffs in Hawaii have already pointed out the illegality of the administration’s implementation of the ban, and the government has once again begun to back down: The guidance, which originally blocked Americans’ fiancé(e)s from the six targeted countries, has been revised to confirm that an engagement is a bona fide relationship. And the government has also retracted a statement from yesterday that refugees who were already sponsored by resettlement agencies in the United States would be banned despite that relationship.
Let’s be perfectly clear. The Muslim ban is unconstitutional, and it cannot stand. We fully expect the Supreme Court to agree with us on this come October. But whether such a pronouncement from the high court will finally put an end to Trump’s efforts to discriminate against Muslims is another question altogether.
No matter how long the Trump administration pursues its hateful policies, we will continue to stand with the American Muslim community. For discrimination against any religion jeopardizes the religious liberty that all Americans enjoy. Read more about our efforts to fight Trump’s un-American Muslim ban here.