HIAS ‘glad’ Supreme Court upholds decision to add grandparents, grandchildren to family defintion


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Jewish resettlement agency HIAS praised a Supreme Court ruling for expanding the definition of family ties in the Trump administration’s travel ban, but lamented its upholding, for now, a ban on refugees.

The order Wednesday issued by the Supreme Court preserves a lower court’s temporary order to broaden the administration’s interpretation of “bona fide” family ties to include grandparents and grandchildren. People with such ties to U.S. residents are exempted from the Trump administration’s temporary ban on entry from six Muslim majority countries.

The Supreme Court also upheld the lower court’s decision to maintain the Trump administration’s ban on refugees who have been vetted by from U.S. resettlement agencies. That ban is still pending a resolution at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The court’s ruling could affect whether refugees with connections to agency groups like HIAS will be granted an invitation into the country. Of particular concern is the status of refugees from the Syrian civil war.

“We are glad that the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s common sense interpretation of close family ties,” President and CEO of HIAS Mark Hetfield said. “We are, however, disappointed that, for the time being anyway, the relationship between a refugee and the resettlement agency that assured his or her case will not be enough for that otherwise approved refugee to enter the United States.”

“HIAS and our supporters in the American Jewish community fully expect this administration to comply with [the lower court’s] ruling,” Hetfield said, “but the fight for this country to uphold its founding values is ongoing.”

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