Hawaii judge expands exemptions to Trump’s travel ban

A federal judge in Hawaii has issued an order expanding the list of exemptions to President Donald Trump’s travel ban, favoring travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees who have grandparents and other relatives in the U.S. 

In a 26-page ruling issued late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, a President Barack Obama appointee, said the exemptions will apply to those with grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins in the U.S. Refugees who have been given a “formal assurance” from a resettlement agency in the U.S. that they may come here are also exempt under Watson’s order. 

“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” Watson wrote in his order. “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.” 

Watson ruled after the state of Hawaii challenged the Trump administration’s travel restrictions. 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement Friday criticizing the court’s decision.

“The district court has issued decisions that are entrusted to the executive branch, undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers,” he said. “The Supreme Court has had to correct this lower court once, and we will now reluctantly return directly to the Supreme Court to again vindicate the rule of law and the executive branch's duty to protect the nation.”

Last month, the Supreme Court reinstated key parts of Trump’s revised travel ban while agreeing to hear legal challenges to his executive order. In its ruling, the high court partially granted the Trump administration's request to lift preliminary injunctions against the directive and let it block visitors from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, freeze the nation's refugee resettlement program for 120 days and limit the number of refugees who may be brought here this fiscal year to 50,000, down from about 85,000 the year before. (The 50,000-cap was reached this week.) 

But the court said those restrictions cannot be applied to people with a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The court also used the phrase “close familial relationship.” The Trump administration is interpreting such relationships to include a parent - including a parent-in-law - spouse, child, adult son or adult daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling. This includes step relationships. Not included are grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and any other “extended family members.” 

Trump administration officials have also said that formal assurances given by refugee resettlement agencies would not be sufficient in and of themselves for refugees to establish bona fide relationships under the court ruling.

Watson disagreed in his ruling, saying: “An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones: it is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations, including compensation, it is issued specific to an individual refugee only when that refugee has been approved for entry by the Department of Homeland Security, and it is issued in the ordinary course, and historically has been for decades.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case in October.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Opinion: Playboy comes to D.C.

Playboy Enterprises just announced that it has purchased a table at this year’s White House Correspondents Association dinner. Swell. Just what we need. The dinner, as you’ve probably heard, is an annual ritual of narcissism in which leading press figures don black tie and hope to see, or better yet, be seen with, Hollywood stars. Like...
Gridlock Guy: Poor tire maintenance is as bad as distracted driving

So much attention is paid to, well, the lack of attention drivers are paying behind the wheel and the havoc that carelessness causes. But what about the wheels themselves? Those deserve equal notice. Bridgestone Tires flew some other media and me out to test some of their new tires at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last week. We tested three different...
John Williams gave back while building modern Atlanta
John Williams gave back while building modern Atlanta

In 1970 while putting together the blueprint for what became Post Properties, and when he couldn’t yet afford office space, John Williams held regular meetings at the Sandy Springs International House of Pancakes. Mostly he drank coffee until IHOP staffers required he buy breakfast with every new — and usually protracted — meeting...
DeKalb County restaurant inspection scores

DeKalb County • Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, 5070 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Chamblee. 82/B • Fletcher’s Restaurant & Bar, 3025 Turner Hill Road, Lithonia. 75/C • La Costilla Grill, 3979 Buford Highway, Atlanta. 88/B • Sapori di Napoli, 314 Church St., Decatur. 91/A • Tava Indian Bistro, 1685 Church St., Decatur. 95/A
Forsyth County restaurant inspection scores

Forsyth County • Austin’s Seafood and Steak,506 Lakeland Plaza, Cumming. 83/B • Baba’s Gyro & Kabob, 2310 Ronald Reagan Blvd., Cumming. 85/B • Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, 2619 Freedom Parkway, Cumming. 97/A • Grub Burger Bar, 410 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming. 81/B • Midway Meal House, 5150 Highway 9, Alpharetta...
More Stories