The Trump Administration Narrowly Defines "Close" Familial Relationships For Purposes Of The Travel Ban, In A Move That Will Separate Families Of Iranian Descent

Dear Members and Friends,
 
We recently provided you an update about the U.S. Supreme Court permitting parts of the "Travel Ban" Executive Order to proceed.  You can find that summary here.  In short, the Court found that the Travel Ban may not be used to prohibit visa applicants and refugees with "a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity" (i.e. a "close" familial or business tie to the U.S.), but may otherwise prohibit nationals of Iran (and 5 other countries) without such ties to the U.S.
 
Yesterday, the Associated Press and Reuters both reported on new guidelines that have been sent to U.S. embassies and consulates, defining what a "close" familial relationship is.  According to the reported guidelines, "close" family:
  • Includes: parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling in the U.S. 
  • Does not include: grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-or-sisters-in-law, fiancées or other extended family members.
This interpretation of "close" family is quite narrow, and even appears to disregard broader examples offered by the Supreme Court, itself.  It is unclear what rationale there is to separate grandparents and grandchildren, or fiancées, in the name of national security.  This narrow interpretation has already drawn condemnation for separating families, including from the largest Iranian American organizations, such as IABA, NIAC, PAAIA, and Pars Equality ( see here).
 
The Travel Ban goes into effect today, June 29, 2017.  There have been conflicting reports as to exactly what time, ranging from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (likely depending on the airport).
 
IABA has created a form to help track information about individuals affected by the Travel Ban, and to offer assistance as possible. The form is currently available.  It can be filled out anonymously to provide us with information; or contact information can be provided if an individual needs help.  The form is available here.
 
Please help us by sharing this information (and the IABA form) with your friends, family, and professional networks, as widely as possible.  The more we know, the more we can help. 
 
And, as always you can also help by:
  1. Joining or renewing your membership with IABA (click here to join, and here to renew);
  2. Donating to IABA so it can continue its efforts (click here);
  3. Answering calls to volunteer for translating, legal help, attendance at airports, etc. You can reach us at iaba@iaba.us; and
  4. Engaging community members who need help and directing them to IABA as needed.
Stay vigilant. Stay engaged. And stay tuned. Things can change quickly.
 
 
Babak Yousefzadeh
Iranian American Bar Association
National President

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