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US travel ban begins

By: Reuters

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration reversed a decision late on Thursday and said fiancés would be considered close family members and therefore allowed to travel to the United States as its revised travel ban took effect.

The U.S. State Department concluded “upon further review, fiancés would now be included as close family members,” said a State Department official who requested anonymity.

The Trump administration had previously decided, on the basis of its interpretation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, that grandparents, grandchildren and fiancés traveling from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be barred from obtaining visas while the ban was in place.

The 90-day ban took effect at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT Friday), along with a 120-day ban on all refugees.

On Monday, the Supreme Court revived parts of Trump’s travel ban on people from the six Muslim-majority countries, narrowing the scope of lower court rulings that had blocked parts of a March 6 executive order and allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties to the United States.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, who also requested anonymity, said it would be updating its guidance to state that fiancés would not be barred from obtaining visas while the ban was in place.

The Supreme Court exempted from the ban travelers and refugees with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. As an example, the court said those with a “close familial relationship” with someone in the United States would be covered.

The state of Hawaii asked a federal judge in Honolulu on Thursday evening to determine whether the Trump administration had interpreted the court’s decision too narrowly.

Hawaii said in a court filing that the U.S. government intended to violate the Supreme Court’s instructions by improperly excluding from the United States people who actually have a close family relationship to U.S. persons, echoing criticism from immigrant and refugee groups.

Hawaii called the refusal to recognize grandparents and other relatives as an acceptable family relationship “a plain violation of the Supreme Court’s command.”

Hawaii’s Attorney General Doug Chin asked U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu, who blocked Trump’s travel ban in March, to issue an order “as soon as possible” clarifying how the Supreme Court’s ruling should be interpreted.

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