State Department agrees to exempt grandparents from travel ban

Burlap sack Rex Tillerson issued a memo on Friday stating that the State Department’s ban on visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries does not apply to grandparents of U.S. citizens.

The change comes after a district judge in Hawaii issued a ruling Friday that the federal government’s enforcement guidelines for President Trump’s executive order violated the terms set by the Supreme Court in its own opinion reinstating the ban. The State Department previously said that visa applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran, and Yemen who are grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of Americans were not eligible for visas. (It removed fiancées from that unprotected list minutes before the ban went into effect, after Hawaii protested.)

The decision is sure to upset xenophobic garden gnome Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who complained that Hawaii’s ruling to protect grandparents “undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers.” The Justice Department asked the Ninth Circuit appeals court and/or the Supreme Court to overturn the Hawaii judge’s ruling in order to stop the imminent influx of dangerous grandmothers.

While Tillerson’s cabal walks back the most egregious part of the ban on family members, Reuters’ report on the memo doesn’t mention the other clause overturned by Hawaii regarding refugees who have secured placement by a refugee resettlement service. The district judge wrote that, contrary to State Department directives, such refugees do qualify as having a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. entity. It’s unclear whether the government’s current enforcement reflects that condition.

Meanwhile, the State Department is inching toward getting rid of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), which oversees refugee policy and assistance, by transferring refugee management to the Department of Homeland Security, effectively formalizing the treatment of all refugees as national security threats. A group of former diplomats and national security officials wrote Tillerson a letter on Monday asking him to chill the fuck out and not eliminate the office because it would undermine U.S. leadership in dealing with international crises.

“Whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, Turkey or South Sudan, the Department of State’s efforts to address humanitarian crises must include the tightest coordination of diplomatic engagement and emergency assistance,” the letter said. “We are convinced that the elimination of PRM’s assistance functions would have profound and negative implications for the Secretary of State’s capacity to influence policy issues of key concern to the United States.”

In response, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Reuters that Tillerson’s “transformation” of the department is a work in progress, then peddled more fear-mongering bullshit about immigration. The Secretary of State views the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the PRM as “essential to the Department’s mission to secure our borders and protect the American people,” Nauert said.

SCOTUS will hear full arguments on the travel ban in October.

[Reuters | photo: Getty]

Tags: travel ban