The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary order allowing the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees, setting aside for now a lower court ruling that would have allowed some refugees into the country as early as Tuesday.
Justice Anthony Kennedy issued the temporary order Monday, and asked challengers to the refugee ban to file a response by midday Tuesday.
Lower courts blocked both provisions, but the Supreme Court in June allowed certain parts to stand provisionally. The justices said the bans could be applied only to people without a "bona fide" relationship to people or entities in the United States, prompting litigation over the meaning of that phrase.
Resettlement agencies argued that their commitment to provide services for specific refugees should count as a "bona fide" relationship.
The Trump administration said it should not, meaning such refugees would be barred.
The Justice Department did not ask the Supreme Court to immediately block a separate part of the 9th Circuit's ruling that said grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of legal U.S. residents should be exempted from Trump's ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.
Apart from the question of what constitutes "bona fide" relationships, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in October about whether Trump's travel ban discriminates against Muslims, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
As lower courts and the Supreme Court weighed in on the travel and refugee bans in recent months, the U.S. refugee program has lurched from an ambitious projection of 110,000 arrivals for the year, to just a few hundred arrivals a week. Through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, fewer than 52,000 will have entered the United States during the previous 12 months - a population close to Trump’s stated desire to cap arrivals at 50,000.
The administration is expected to announce in the coming weeks what the maximum number of refugee arrivals for the coming fiscal year will be.