An appeals court in Seattle, WA, has upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Trump administration’s definition of close familial relationship as it pertained to the travel ban was too narrow. A federal judge in Hawaii previously rejected the White House’s attempt to bar grandparents and cousins from entering the U.S. under President Trump’s travel ban.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s 90-day ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries could be implemented until October, when the court will hear arguments in the case. Justices exempted individuals who have a “bona fide relationship” with people currently residing in the U.S.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling, the State Department originally said grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and cousins weren’t exempt from the ban. A federal judge in Hawaii ruled that the Trump administration’s definition of “bona fide relationship” was too limited. A panel of judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, CA, upheld that ruling on Thursday.
“Stated simply, the government does not offer a persuasive explanation for why a mother-in-law is clearly a bona fide relationship, in the Supreme Court’s prior reasoning, but a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin is not,” the ruling stated.
As USA Today noted, the panel was generally dumfounded by the government’s illogical categorization of “bona fide” relationships. “Could you explain to me what’s significantly different between a grandparent and a mother-in-law, father-in-law?” Judge Richard Paez asked deputy assistant attorney general Hashim Mooppan. “What is so different about those two categories? One is in and one is out.”
The panel of judges also ruled that 24,000 vetted refugees were exempt from the travel ban — meaning they will be allowed to enter the U.S. despite the government’s best efforts. Given that stranded refugees live in a “vulnerable limbo,” the court said its ruling would go into effect in five days as opposed to the standard 52.