Hawaii Judge Dilutes Trump Travel Ban Further by Expanding Family List

Associated Press, July 14, 2017

In another setback for Donald Trump, a federal judge in Hawaii has further weakened his already diluted travel ban by vastly expanding the list of family relationships with US citizens that visa applicants can use to get into the country.

The ruling is the latest piece of pushback in the fierce fight set off by the ban Trump first attempted in January. It will culminate with arguments in front of the US supreme court in October.

The current rules aren’t so much an outright ban as a tightening of already-tough visa policies affecting citizens from six Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen. People from those countries who already have visas will be allowed into the country. Only narrow categories of people, including those with relatives named in Thursday’s ruling, will be considered for new visas.

US district judge Derrick Watson on Thursday ordered the government not to enforce the ban on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people in the United States.

Judge Derrick Watson

Judge Derrick Watson

“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.”

Watson also ruled that the government may not exclude refugees who have formal assurance and promise of placement services from a resettlement agency in the US.

The US supreme court, which last month allowed a scaled-back version of the ban to go into effect before it hears the case in October, exempted visa applicants from the ban if they can prove a “bona fide” relationship with a US citizen or entity.

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