Immigration advocates brace for modified travel ban

International travelers arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport on the day the Trump administration’s travel ban went into effect.
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
International travelers arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport on the day the Trump administration’s travel ban went into effect.

As enforcement of a limited version of the Trump administration’s travel ban took effect at 8 p.m. Thursday, the scene at Logan International Airport was calm, in stark contrast to the chaos that followed the initial executive order in January.

A small contingent of immigration attorneys and demonstrators were waiting at Terminal E on Thursday evening and said they had no immediate reports of passengers being detained.

Susan Church, one of the lawyers, said one passenger had arrived earlier Thursday before the ban was back in place.


She was joined by a couple of demonstrators who held signs decrying the ban, including Meredith Reiches, of Somerville.

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“It’s good to have a location that can be visible locus for protest,” said Reiches, whose sign said “YOU ARE WELCOME HERE.”

Her friend, Rachel Hands, also of Somerville, held a sign that read “NO BAN NO WALL” in reference to Trump’s planned border wall with Mexico.

Both women said they felt compelled to speak out against the new version of the ban, as they did against prior iterations.

“We’re sorry to have to be back here,” Reiches said.


Church said earlier in the day that immigration attorneys would be stationed at the airport Thursday night as a precaution. She was one of the Boston lawyers who persuaded two local federal judges to issue a rare middle-of-the-night restraining order on Trump’s January order.

“We expect there will not be a crazy impact at all this weekend because the Department of State cable says anyone with a valid visa will not have a visa revoked,” Church said. “I don’t think it’s going to be as crazy as last time, but it’s not going to be simple either.”

There are no nonstop flights coming in to Boston tonight from the six affected countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority. But travelers holding passports from those countries who are arriving from other airports could potentially be affected.

After the January executive order — which also included Iraq — took effect, chaos ensued in airports across the country, including detentions and protests at Logan. Following the travel ban’s legal block, the Trump administration issued a revised version in March, removing Iraq from the list and exempting green card holders.

That order was also blocked by federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii. On Monday, the Supreme Court allowed parts of the revised travel ban to go forward and are expected to hear arguments on the scope of the rest of the order in October. The court said the ban could not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”


On Wednesday, the State Department defined the terms of a “bona fide relationship.”

Under the new set of guidelines, visas that have already been approved will not be revoked. But travelers from the six predominantly Muslim countries would only be eligible for entry and visas to travel to the United States if they can prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling already in the United States.

Other extended familial relationships, including fiancees, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law don’t fit the criteria of “close family” set forth by the Trump administration.

Partial US travel restrictions go into effect today

Those without bona fide relationships would be barred from entering the country for at least 90 days. Refugees without bona fide relationships would be banned for 120 days.

“The hope is that most of the folks that are trying to get into the country have a bona fide relationship with a US person,” said Matthew Segal , legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. “The hope is there will be no drama at the airport. . . . If the government abides by what the Supreme Court says, there won’t be any problems. Those people will be allowed in.”

Greg Romanovsky, chair of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that local US Customs and Border Protection officials indicated to him that they were still awaiting guidance as of Thursday afternoon on how to handle the travel ban.

“What we’re hoping to see is going to be business as usual for the airport folks,” Romanovsky said. “They were really not looking forward to having to verify each person’s ‘bona fide relationship’ with the United States.”

Romanovsky was among the lawyers and advocates planning at Logan Thursday evening to see how the ban would be implemented.

Both Church and Segal said they continue to advise people from the affected nations not to travel outside of the United States if they are already here.

“It’s a very tricky situation. Everything is rapidly changing with courts issuing decisions the way they’ve been issuing them,” Church said.

Travis Andersen and Cristela Guerra of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Katheleen Conti can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti. Sara Salinas can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @saracsalinas.