In this occasional series, we will bring you up to speed on the biggest national security stories of the week.
The Supreme Court ruled that a limited version of President Trump's original travel ban could go into effect until it considers the case again in the fall. But the decision came with a curious stipulation: Visitors need a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
The court left it to the government to decide the meaning of that relationship, and details are slowly trickling in on the Trump administration's plans.
The new criteria for visa applications goes into effect Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Here's what you need to know:
Who is affected?
The travel ban affects visa applicants from six predominantly Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Visas will be granted to those who can prove — in a formal and documented way — that they have a close relationship with a family member living in the United States or that they are connected with an entity such as a workplace or university.
The State Department's new guidelines stipulate that a close family member is a parent, spouse, sibling, son, daughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Stepfamily relationships also apply.
The government doesn't consider close relationships to include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, fiances and other “extended” family members.
Here's a visual representation from The Washington Post's Philip Bump:
What are some of the criticisms of this version of the ban?
One of the controversies behind the new travel ban is the idea that the government can determine the meaning of a “bona fide” or close relationship.
Officials also say that individuals will be judged on a “case by case” basis and that the relationship itself will not be the only determining factor. Officials say they will consider cases in which a grandmother or an aunt raised someone now living in the United States.
Another criticism is that the travel ban as it stands is not an effective policy to protect against terrorism attacks. As The Post's Mark Berman points out, “There have been 10 fatal attacks in the United States tied to Islamist extremist ideology or otherwise deemed international terrorism since 2001. None of the people behind any of those attacks are from the banned countries (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen; Iraq was included in the first ban but dropped for the second version).”
Where did the ban come from, and what happens now?
This version of the travel ban does not go as far as Trump would have liked.
Trump first signed the executive order in late January that caused panic and chaos at airports because green card- and visa holders were turned back. Immigrants and refugees who were traveling on planes to the United States found themselves stranded and confused, and federal agencies were left to determine the meaning of the order's language without any real guidance from the White House.
Now, officials expect a smoother transition because the latest ban applies only to new visa applicants.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court said the Trump administration needs to clarify its policy on vetting procedures before justices come back to the case in October.
“We fully expect that the relief we grant today will permit the Executive to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments” within 90 days, the court said.