However, the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay request filed by the administration on Monday, temporarily halting the Ninth Circuit's ruling and keeping in limbo the fate of refugees blocked from entry by the travel ban.
In July, the justices sided with a lower court ruling that grandparents and cousins of a person in the USA fit the definition of a close relationship. About 24,000 refugees are covered by those agreements. Late in the day, the court issued a one-page order blocking the decision indefinitely. The Supreme Court said Monday that President Trump's travel ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States". In doing so, the court rejected the Trump administration's interpretation of the Supreme Court's June decision and rebuffed the administration's ongoing effort to ban individuals from six predominantly Muslim countries.
The justices said Trump could impose a limited version of the measure, but not on those with a "bona fide" connection to the United States, such as having family members here, a job or a place in a US university. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had interpreted a Supreme Court directive this summer to mean that they should be allowed in, but the government objected. The government has maintained that such relations include family members and in-laws, but not grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
The Justice Department's high court filing Monday follows an appeals court ruling last week that would allow refugees to enter the United States if a resettlement agency in the USA had agreed to take them in.
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U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington D.C., August 30, 2017. The move thus allows a part of Trump's travel ban order to be implemented, for the time being.
The Justice Department argues that allowing the 9 Circuit's decision on refugees would "disrupt the status quo and frustrate orderly implementation of the order's refugee provisions".
The court is expected to take up the legality of the travel ban October 10.
The administration also said that relationships between refugees and resettlement agencies were too attenuated to qualify for an exception to the ban because the arrangements had been made by an intermediary: the government. By that point, the original 90-day travel ban will have lapsed and the 120-day refugee ban will have just a few weeks to run.