A federal judge in Honolulu on Thursday expanded the list of family relationships needed by people seeking new visas from six mostly Muslim countries to avoid President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ordered the government not to enforce the ban when it comes to grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people in the United States.
“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” Watson said in his ruling. “Indeed grandparents are the epitome of close family members.”
The U.S. Supreme Court last month allowed a limited travel ban to be implemented and agreed to hear a full challenge to the executive order in October. The nation’s top court exempted visa applicants from the ban if they can prove a “bona fide” relationship with a U.S. citizen or entity. The Trump administration has said the ban won’t apply to citizens of the six countries with a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S.
Hawaii said grandparents, uncles, aunts and other close relatives should also be exempted. The state asked Watson, who blocked the president’s revised travel ban in March, to clarify that those family members are also exempt from the ban.
Previously Watson had rejected Hawaii’s request, saying the state should go to the U.S. Supreme Court because it was seeking to clarify that court’s requirement of a “bona fide relationship.” But Hawaii appealed Watson’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the court said Watson had the authority to interpret the Supreme Court’s order and block any violation of it. Hawaii then renewed its request last week with Watson in a different form.
The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment Thursday.
State Attorney General Douglas Chin said Thursday’s ruling makes it clear that the administration “may not ignore the scope of the partial travel ban as it sees fit.”
“Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough” under the ban, he said. Chin said his office will now continue to prepare arguments for the U.S. Supreme Court in October.