Sorry, grandparents, you’re not welcomed

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Greg Dobbs

No grandparents?
I hate to get hung up on just one small facet of the partial application of the Trump travel ban, but grandparents can’t travel to the United States to see their grandchildren? REALLY?
When the Supreme Court allowed, pending its formal hearing on the ban, that foreigners can still come in if they have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” did the President really believe that shouldn’t include grandparents?
I have kids. I have grandkids. They are the most important family I’ve got. The President might not be grounded in achievable approaches to foreign policy (or dignified declarations about domestic critics), but he is a grandparent himself. Eight times over. I’ve got to believe that he loves his family, which, by most anyone’s definition, includes his grandkids. Does he not see that?
When I read about this part of the ban, I thought about a weekend I spent a couple of summers ago at Camp Comfort, the grief camp for kids run by Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice. It gives children who’ve suffered a terrible loss a brief break from their sorrow. They ride horses and catch fish and slide down zip lines and swim, and in-between the fun, there is therapy.
The children sit in circles, along with their adult “buddies” like me, and talk about the loved ones they lost and the futures they face without them. One boy in my circle had lost his father to a motorcycle accident. Another lost his dad to drugs. One girl’s sister had died of a disease. Another no longer had a mom.
And then a little girl started sobbing about her lost loved one. It was her grandmother. I’ll be honest and tell you, in my mind I was thinking that this girl’s loss just wasn’t tragic on the level of the other kids in the circle. Until she told us more. Her grandmother had raised her. Her grandmother was the only family she had. And now grandma was gone. The little girl had no one left.
When the White House announced its definition of “bona fide” relationships, it said it was based on The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. Trump’s interpretation is definitely not the act’s two sponsors’ original intent. One was New York Representative Emanuel Celler, who served almost 50 years in the House and once pleaded with President Roosevelt to relax immigration laws to provide a haven for Europeans fleeing the Holocaust.
The other was Senator Edward Kennedy. You don’t have to read up on him to know where his beliefs were anchored. Kennedy’s and Celler’s intent was to reunite immigrant families. But typical of its disregard for precedent, the Trump Administration is turning its legislation on its end and using it to keep bona fide grandparents from uniting with their families.
You’re read it before but it’s worth repeating: when it comes to the threat of terrorism in the United States, incoming refugees, especially those with preexisting relationships here, are not the problem. The mass murderer at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando was born in New Hyde Park, N.Y. The mass murderer at the Christmas party in San Bernardino had served in the United States Navy during the Iraq War and was born in Chicago. The mass murderer at Fort Hood was an Army psychiatrist for heaven’s sake, born in Arlington, Va. Three terrorists. Three Americans.
You’ve heard the phrase “arbitrary and capricious.” As law professor Kathryn Watts wrote in the Yale Law Journal, a poorly rationalized decision is “arbitrary and capricious.” Which surely describes this newest version of the Trump travel ban. It won’t do a darned thing about homegrown terrorists, but it will superfluously, stupidly, separate families.
The Supreme Court is back at full strength with the addition of Coloradan Neil Gorsuch, but its conservative composition notwithstanding, it should step in and stop this perversion. If anything seems un-American, it is an embargo on entry for the grandparents.

Greg Dobbs is a 30-year Evergreen resident. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he was a regular Courier columnist.