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Ruling in travel ban leaves questions unanswered

28 June 2017

The US Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated President Donald Trump s controversial travel ban targeting citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries, before examining the case in full this autumn.

The court said people from the six Muslim-majority nations named in the travel restrictions blocked by lower courts would have to have a "bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States" to enter the country.

The ruling sets up a potential clash between the government and opponents of the ban over the strength of visitors' ties to the United States.

On the other hand, the justices said, relationships created for the purposes of evading the travel ban will not be considered valid.

Mr Trump issued his first version of the travel ban in January, sparking worldwide protests and chaos at airports across America.

The president said last week that the order would go into effect 72 hours after receiving an approval from the courts.

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The order "will take effect in a very limited way", said Karen Tumlin, legal director for the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles.

"It was a much-needed temporary timeout to give us a chance to examine our vetting system to make sure that those who are coming to attack the nation or hurt innocent Americans will be prevented", said Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman Dave Ray.

His first executive order went into effect immediately and resulted in chaos at airports in the United States and overseas as travelers from the targeted countries were either stranded or sent back to their countries. That review should be complete before October 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.

In a statement, Trump called the court's ruling "a clear victory for our national security".

Thus, the decision will allow the 120-day ban on refugees to be implemented, given that those people are fleeing their countries of origin and have no prior relationship with U.S. individuals or institutions. The 50,000 uh limit that president Trump had in his executive order also doesn't apply to them.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, said the government has shown it is likely to win the legal case in the end. It added a section detailing national security concerns, removed Iraq from the list of countries affected, deleted a section that had targeted Syrian refugees and removed a provision that favored Christian immigrants.

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Trump hailed the court's order as a "clear victory for our national security", especially after lower court rulings that blocked the travel ban in its entirety. "My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe".

However, until it can issue a definitive ruling, the court authorized the Trump administration to deny U.S. entry to people affected by the ban who do not have relatives in the U.S. or who have no previously established plans to work at companies or study at educational institutions in the US. The official who described the plans was not authorized to discuss them publicly by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In its brief ruling, the court said the ban could go forward pending a full hearing in October, but the justices exempted foreigners who have "a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" such as close family, job offers or university admissions.

"This order, properly construed, should really allow for only the narrowest implementation of any part of the ban".

Some lawyers also said the vagueness of the "bona fide" standard was license for the Trump administration to interpret it broadly. "I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive", Trump said. He has railed against federal judges who have blocked the move.

Trump's initial executive order - handed down without warning a week after he took office in January - triggered mayhem at airports in the United States and overseas until it was blocked by the courts less than a week later.

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A prominent Iranian lawmaker has denounced the Supreme Court's partial reinstatement of President Donald Trump's travel ban, claiming that it's an "obvious breach" of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, including the United States.