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As 'Disgraceful' Muslim Ban Looms, Rights Groups Vow Resistance

New guidelines "should leave no doubt that the Trump administration will exploit any opportunity to advance its xenophobic agenda."

Protestors hold up signs in front of effigies of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during in a demonstration on January 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington, against Trump's executive order banning Muslims from certain countries. The rally was one of several in the area over the weekend. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

As President Donald Trump's "disgraceful and discriminatory" Muslim ban—which was partially reinstated by the Supreme Court earlier this week—is set to go into effect Thursday night, rights groups and attorneys are preparing to challenge the administration's "arbitrary" restrictions on who is permitted to enter the country.

"It remains clear that President Trump's purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims."
—Omar Jadwat, ACLU
Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, told CBS New York that lawyers will be ready to offer assistance to immigrants should any problems arise.

"We have an army of over 1,000 lawyers who have their back and are ready to go back out to [the John F. Kennedy International Airport] if that becomes necessary," she said.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that only those who could demonstrate a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" would be allowed entry.

But, as the New York Times noted, the "meaning of 'bona fide relationship' was not precisely explained, and the phrase has created much uncertainty for migrants and others seeking to travel to the United States from the six countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—covered by the revised travel ban that President Trump issued in March."

Late Wednesday night, the State Department sent a diplomatic cable—published by Reuters—offering its interpretation of the court's mandate and detailing who would be exempt from the ban.

It judged that those with "close family"—defined as "a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, whether whole or half"—living in the U.S. would be permitted to enter.

"'Close family' does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés, and any other 'extended' family members," the cable adds.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) quickly objected to this definition, calling it "extremely restrictive."

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, argued the State Department's directive "does not comport with the Supreme Court's order, is arbitrary, and is not tied to any legitimate government purpose."

"It remains clear that President Trump's purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims," Jadwat concluded.

Karen Tumlin, director of the National Immigration Law Center, agreed, saying in a statement that the "reported guidance would slam the door shut on so many who have waited for months or years to be reunited with their families."

The State Department's guidelines "should leave no doubt that the Trump administration will exploit any opportunity to advance its xenophobic agenda," Tumlin concluded.

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