The Supreme Court granted a Trump administration request to continue to bar most refugees under a travel ban promulgated by a presidential executive order. Without comment on Tuesday, the justices blocked an earlier federal appeals court ruling that would have exempted from the travel ban those refugees who have already have a commitment from resettlement organizations. The ruling by the lower court would have allowed as many as 24,000 refugees to enter the country before the end of October.

President Donald Trump’s executive order bans certain persons from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. 

The Supreme Court will examine the legality of the travel ban on October 10. However, the 90-day travel ban lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban expires one month later. It is unclear on what basis the justices will therefore make a decision. The Trump administration has thus far not said whether it will seek to renew the bans, make them permanent, or expand the travel ban to more countries. 

The Supreme Court agreed to review rulings made by lower courts that had decided that the bans violate the Constitution and federal immigration law. So far, the Supreme Court has taken action on what parts of the policy can take effect in the meantime.

In June, the court said that the Trump administration could not enforce the bans against people who have a "bona fide" relationship with people or entities in the United States, such as family ties. The justices declined to define the required relationships more precisely. At the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel of judges upheld a federal district judge's order that would have allowed refugees to enter the United States if a resettlement agency in the U.S. had agreed to take them in. The Trump administration disagreed and claimed that the relationship between refugees and resettlement agencies should not be taken into account. The Supreme Court's unsigned, one-sentence order agreed with the administration, at least for now.

The appeals court also upheld another part of the judge's ruling that applies to the ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Grandparents and cousins of people already residing in the U.S. cannot be excluded from the country under the travel ban, as the Trump administration had wanted. The administration did not ask the Supreme Court to block that part of the ruling.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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