Why People Are Sharing Photos of Their Grandparents to Protest Trump

June 30th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

People are sharing photos of their grandparents on Twitter with the hashtag #GrandparentsNotTerrorists in response to President Donald Trump's travel ban, which partially went into effect on Thursday.

On Monday, the Supreme Court reinstated a limited version of the travel ban, which bars immigration from six Muslim majority countries for 90 days and suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. The court made exceptions to the ban for individuals who have a "bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the United States.

But what kind of "close familial relationship" exempts an individual from the travel ban has become a source of controversy. The Trump administration initially said grandparents, grandchildren, fiancé​s, and other "extended family members" from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen did not qualify for the exemption.

The State Department amended its interpretation of the Supreme Court action on Thursday, allowing fiancés of individuals in the U.S. to enter the country. But "grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law" will still be denied entry, according to the department.

Critics of the travel ban started sharing photos of grandparents from the affected countries to rebut the Trump administration's suggestion that these relatives pose a national security threat.

Hawaii's Attorney General Douglas Chin, one of several attorneys general to succesfully challenge the travel ban prior to the Supreme Court decision, submitted a motion to a federal judge requesting clarification about who qualifies for an exemption on Thursday.

"In Hawaii, 'close family' includes many of the people that the federal government decided on its own to exclude from that definition," Chin said in a press release. "Unfortunately, this severely limited definition may be in violation of the Supreme Court ruling."

The Supreme Court is expected to hold hearings on Trump's executive order on immigration later this year. Civil rights groups and two federal appeals courts have argued that the ban is inherently discriminatory and, thus, unconstitutional. The Trump administration has contended that the travel ban was created in the interest of national security and that the president has the constitutional authority to impose immigration restrictions.