ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The Trump administration has now outlined who is allowed into the United States after the Supreme Court upheld part of the president's travel ban earlier this week. The executive order limits travelers from a group of mostly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. For all refugees, it's for 120 days. The court said people with bonafide connections in the U.S. should be allowed in. But the White House is giving that a controversial interpretation. NPR's Brian Naylor begins our coverage.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: The travel ban affects people from six nations - Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen. According to the guidelines laid out by the administration, people from those countries with a very specific set of relatives in the U.S. can qualify for visas to come here. So for instance, if your mother or father lives here or your spouse or child or your sister or brother, you're good. People with step-siblings or half-siblings would also qualify, as would people with mothers- or fathers-in-law here.
But if it's your fiance or grandmother or grandfather you're hoping to visit, you're out of luck. The administration says those and other extended family members are not close enough relations to qualify. Cornell University immigration law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr says it's a bit hard to figure.
STEPHEN YALE-LOEHR: The State Department instructions are pretty narrow. The Supreme Court said that anyone who had a bona fide relationship with a person in the United States could qualify, but the State Department has interpreted that to limit it to close family members. So a stepsister qualifies as being exempt from the travel ban, but a grandparent or a fiance does not. And that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
NAYLOR: Sirene Shebaya is an attorney with the group Muslim Advocates. She agrees the distinctions are puzzling, especially where extended family ties are part of the culture.
SIRENE SHEBAYA: This is likely to cause grave harm to a lot of people. You know, you have some people who might, for example, be directly taken care of by their grandparents or be taking care of their grandparents themselves. You have people who are engaged to someone that they're bringing over here. I mean the idea that a fiance is not a close family relationship is just a little bit astonishing.
NAYLOR: Trump administration officials who briefed reporters today on background and would not agree to be named said the guidelines are based on the definition of family included in the Immigration and Nationality Act, and they say travelers can seek individual waivers, though it's not clear how many will be granted.
The administration is also defining the court's ruling narrowly when it comes to refugees. Under terms of the executive order, none are to be admitted for 120 days unless they too can claim the appropriate family members are already in the country. Cornell's Yale-Loehr says that's going to exclude most who are seeking to gain entry here.
YALE-LOEHR: Some people have estimated that slightly over half of all refugees do not have a close enough family relationship to be able to enter. So for example, if you remember the Lost Boys of Sudan who were orphaned children who fled war and famine in Sudan to come to the United States as refugees, they would not be allowed under this interpretation.
NAYLOR: And the administration says even for refugees who have a relationship with a sponsoring organization, that's not enough to qualify them to come to the U.S. Visitors, however, who have been invited to lecture or enroll at a U.S. college will be eligible. Advocates say they expect to challenge the travel restrictions in court, and they'll be monitoring airports to see how the new rules are carried out by Homeland Security officials. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.
SIEGEL: And in fact, the state of Hawaii said today in a court filing that the administration's definition of bona fide connections violates the Supreme Court's ruling, and it's asked a federal judge for clarification.
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