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June 29, 2017

Trump Administration’s Narrow Definition Unnecessarily Bars Families

New York City—In response to reported consular visa guidance set forth by the Trump Administration today following the Supreme Court’s travel ban ruling, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued this statement:

The Trump Administration’s unduly narrow definition of bona fide family is wrong and counterproductive. The United States has recognized the importance of family relationships, beyond just the nuclear family, for refugee families which have often been ripped apart or decimated by war and persecution.  

The administration well knows that many Americans and U.S. residents are anxiously awaiting the resettlement of their refugee aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and other family members.  Banning these important and bona fide family members, or mischaracterizing them as not ‘close,’ is a blatant attempt to eviscerate the exceptions outlined by the Supreme Court.  For the thousands of orphans and other vulnerable family members stranded in dangerous situations abroad, this guidance may isolate them from the only family they have left.  

We continue to urge the administration to recognize that all refugees approved by the United States for resettlement have bona fide relationships with U.S. resettlement agencies.  Even setting aside these relationships with U.S. agencies, many refugees and nationals from the six countries have bona fide U.S. relationships that the administration seems intent on disregarding. 

The Trump administration’s limited definition of bona fide family also excludes many of the very family members that Americans are looking forward to welcoming as visitors. Barring grandparents from visiting  U.S. relatives that may be ill or dying and attending major family events is not the way to keep this country safe. A ban on the aunts, uncles, grandparents and other family from the six targeted Muslim majority countries is discriminatory, unnecessary and beneath this country’s dignity.  

This approach should be immediately rescinded, so that all family—including those now mislabeled as not bona fide or “close” family—are allowed to visit their U.S. families. 

For more information or to speak with Acer, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.