A federal judge in Hawaii issued a ruling on Thursday that will allow more people from the six majority-Muslim countries impacted by President Donald Trump’s travel ban to enter the United States, marking the latest legal decision to thwart the Trump administration’s agenda.
Under the version of the travel ban which the Supreme Court unanimously greenlighted, only citizens of the six countries with “bona fide” ties to the United States were permitted entry. This meant that they needed either a close family member – spouse, sibling, parent, and child, among others – or an affiliation with an American institution to cross the border.
However, Judge Derrick Watson ruled that the Trump travel ban’s definition of “close family relationships” to be to narrow, as it exempted grandparents.
“The government’s narrowly defined list finds no support in the careful language of the Supreme Court or even in the immigration statutes on which the Government relies,” he wrote. “Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents.”
“Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members,” Watson’s ruling continued. “The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.”
In addition to grandparents and grandchildren, Watson’s ruling instructed the State Department and Homeland Security to not enforce the ban on “brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States.”
Hawaii attorney general Douglas Chin, who filed the lawsuit against the Trump administration on behalf of the state, celebrated the ruling as a repudiation of the federal government’s current practices.
“Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough,” Chin said. “Courts have found that this Executive Order has no basis in stopping terrorism and is just a pretext for illegal and unconstitutional discrimination.”
Trump’s first attempt to institute a travel ban in January was met with fierce protests at airports across the country and was swiftly halted by the courts. The version that did pass through the Supreme Court will be reviewed once again in October.