For the second time since March, a federal judge in Hawaii has dealt a significant blow to President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, ruling this week that the administration’s narrow list of exemptions to the ban must be significantly widened.


The Supreme Court clarified that the administration could enforce the ban on travel into the U.S. from six majority-Muslim countries, but must make exemptions for those peoples with “bona fide” relationships already in the U.S. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the Trump administration claimed that only immediate family, such as spouses, children, and parents, qualified for that exemption.

But Hawaii District Judge Derrick Watson ruled on Thursday that “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States” should be allowed into the U.S.


In his ruling, Judge Watson explained:

What is clear from the Supreme Court’s decision is that this Court’s analysis is to be guided by consideration of whether foreign nationals have a requisite ‘connection’ or ‘tie’ to this country.

Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.

Notably, Judge Watson’s ruling also stated that the “formal assurance” of a refugee resettlement organization also constituted a requisite “bona fide” relationship.

Neal Katyal, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the Hawaii case, celebrated the decision on Twitter, calling it a “sweeping victory.”


President Trump has yet to address Judge Watson’s ruling directly, as he has done on Twitter for similar cases in the past. The Government can now appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court, or the Supreme Court, which is also set to take up the travel ban as a whole in the coming months.

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.

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