How Trump's Travel Ban Imposes White Supremacist Definitions of Kinship on Muslim Immigrants


Trump’s revised travel ban is a reminder that the state has long been in the business of defining who counts as kin, with many types of care-based relationships going unrecognized and causing some degree of harm to the people involved. In narrowly defining what comprises bona fide family relationship, the state is eliminating the kin networks of support immigrants of color depend upon for survival.

Arriving international travelers pass protesters on the first day of the the partial reinstatement of the Trump travel ban, temporarily barring travelers from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the US, at Los Angeles International Airport on June 29, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: David McNew / Getty Images)

The Trump administration has revised the travel ban that it originally issued in January 2017. But the new ban, unlike the old one, has not drawn spontaneous crowds of protesters to the airports as it did initially, in part because it has been framed as a compromise: This time, immigrants from “Muslim-majority countries” (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) will be allowed to apply for entry to the US through a visa, provided they have proof of an existing “bona fide” relationship to a family member who currently resides in the United States.

So, what do the courts mean by a “bona fide” family relationship? “Bona fide,” Latin for “in good faith,” or “genuine,” has been arbitrarily defined by the courts as parents (including in-laws and stepparents), spouses, fiancé(e)s, children (including sons and daughters-in-law), siblings and half-siblings. Any other family members — among them grandparents and grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins — will not be considered “true” family members, and will thus be banned from entering the country.

Shortly after the Trump administration reinstated the new version of the ban, Muslim-Americans quickly began to flood Twitter and other social media platforms with photos of elderly family members,…

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