The Legal Battle Over Refugee Admissions

        The State Department has issued guidance regarding the admission of refugees following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Trump Executive Order cases.

The guidance includes the narrow interpretation of “bona fide relationship with a person” adopted for the visa ban provision (fiancés are in; grandparents are out). As to a “bona fide relationship” to “an entity in the United States,” the guidance states:

A refugee who has a relationship with an entity in the United States that is formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course will be considered to have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with that entity upon presentation of sufficient documentation or other verifiable information supporting that claim. The fact that a resettlement agency in the United States has provided a formal assurance for a refugee seeking admission, however, is not sufficient in and of itself to establish a qualifying relationship for that refugee with an entity in the United States. 

(emphasis supplied).

The communication concludes by stating that additional guidance will be forthcoming. And well it should be.  No reason is given for the conclusory statement italicized above.  Moreover, refugee resettlement agencies will be able to show significant evidence of bona fide relationship beyond the “formal assurance” they receive from the State Department. This is amply and persuasively demonstrated by a brief filed yesterday on behalf of IRAP and HIAS as amici curiae by the ACLU in the Hawaii litigation.

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