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Trump admin makes strange familial decisions to enforce Muslim ban

As parts of Donald Trump's Muslim ban take effect today, there's a new rule: sons-in-law will count as a close family member, but grandmothers won't.
Image: U.S. President Donald Trump signs a revised executive order for a U.S. travel ban on Monday, leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S.
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a revised executive order for a U.S. travel ban on Monday, leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries, at the Pentagon...

The U.S. Supreme Court this week opened the door to Donald Trump's Muslim ban, allowing the administration to implement parts of the White House's policy. Among the limits created by the justices is a prohibition on blocking visitors who had "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

The high court did not, however, clarify exactly what a "bona fide relationship" is, leaving that to Trump administration officials. The policy takes effect today, and the State Department has released some details as to who and what will count as a close family member.

The State Department on Thursday determined who will be allowed into the U.S. following the Supreme Court's decision earlier this week to uphold large parts of President Donald Trump's travel ban against visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries.Visa applicants from those six countries -- Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen -- must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S. to enter the country, two State Department officials confirmed to NBC News.

That is, of course, a rather narrow list. As the New York Times added, "close family" will not include "grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés and any other 'extended' family members."

How Trump administration officials arrived at the idea that a son-in-law counts but a grandmother doesn't is unclear.

Nevertheless, these are the official guidelines that are scheduled to take effect in about three hours -- all in pursuit of a "national security" argument the White House doesn't really seem to believe.

I say "scheduled" because I'm not entirely sure this will go off without a hitch. There could be new litigation challenging the Trump administration's familial framework, for example, and there are some aspects of the policy -- including restrictions on incoming refugees -- that still aren't yet clear.

As for what conditions will be like in major airports trying to implement this policy, things didn't exactly go smoothly the last time Trump World acted, and no one can say with confidence how things will go tonight.