WASHINGTON – Grandparents and other close relatives of U.S. residents will be exempt from President Donald Trump’s hotly contested travel ban, a federal judge ruled.
Judge Derrick K. Watson of U.S. District Court in Honolulu took aim at the administration’s assertion that grandparents and other close relatives did not qualify as “bona fide” connections for exemptions to the ban.
“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” Watson wrote. “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.”
The judge said other exceptions to the ban will include grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and brothers- and sisters-in-law in the U.S. And refugees with “formal assurance” from the U.S. government that they’ll be admitted cannot be banned.
The decision marks a victory for opponents of the travel ban, originally proposed by Trump a week into his term, then revised in a March 6 executive order.
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin welcomed Waton’s decision.
“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,” Chin said. “Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough. Courts have found that this executive order has no basis in stopping terrorism and is just a pretext for illegal and unconstitutional discrimination.”
The Trump administration had no immediate comment on the decision.
The travel ban bars people from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and suspends all refugee entries for 120 days.
The Supreme Court said about three weeks ago that it will hear the administration’s appeal of lower-court orders blocking the ban from taking effect in its next nine-month session, starting in October.
Meanwhile, the high court allowed the restrictions to take effect, with caveats, five months after the initial lawsuits challenging the president’s original travel ban.