March 18, 2018

Judge Narrows Trump's Travel Ban Enforcement

15 July 2017, 03:14 | Taylor George

Judge Narrows Trump's Travel Ban Enforcement

White House official takes issue with judge's travel ban ruling

That travel ban, aimed at people from six Muslim-majority countries, can not be used to bar entry from grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins, said U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson.

In another setback for President Donald Trump, a federal judge in Hawaii further weakened the already-diluted travel ban by vastly expanding the list of US family relationships that visitors from six Muslim-majority countries can use to get into the country.

The case came back to Watson when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that he had the authority to interpret the Supreme Court's order and block any violation of it.

Hawaii's Attorney General Douglas Chin issued a statement about Watson's ruling: "The federal court today makes clear that the U.S. Government may not ignore the scope of the partial travel ban as it sees fit".

The administration subsequently set rules in place that defined family ties so narrowly it prohibited grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, ruled that the restrictions against those groups can not be enforced.

The federal budget can accommodate up to 75,000 refugees, but admissions have slowed under Trump, and the government could hold them to a trickle, resettlement agencies say.

"By this decision, the district court has improperly substituted its policy preferences for the national security judgments of the executive branch in a time of grave threats, defying both the lawful prerogatives of the executive branch and the directive of the Supreme Court", Sessions said. Thomas warned that the definition of bona fide relationships would open the door to a "flood of litigation" as US customs and border officials wrestle with whether travelers from the six countries have sufficient ties.

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"Had the Supreme Court meant to protect only immediate family members and parents-in-law, surely it could have said so", Watson wrote.

That ruling follows on from the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the order's 120-day ban on all refugees from the six affected countries, including an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria, unless they already have family living in the US.

White House Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters that the ruling appeared to be "fairly broad and something that would trouble me if it was as broad as reported".

Hawaii said grandparents, uncles and aunts and other close relatives should also be exempted.

The Trump administration defined it as those who had a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S.

"Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough", he added.

The Supreme Court in June let the Trump administration go ahead on most of the travel ban while it considered challenges to the legality of the president's revised executive order.

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