Judge expands list of relatives exempted from travel ban
A federal judge in Hawaii has expanded the list of family relationships needed by people seeking new visas from six mostly Muslim countries to avoid US president Donald Trump's travel ban.
US District Judge Derrick Watson ordered the government not to enforce the ban on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people in the United States.
"Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," US District Judge Derrick Watson said in his ruling. "Indeed grandparents are the epitome of close family members."
The US Supreme Court last month exempted visa applicants from the ban if they can prove a "bona fide" relationship with a US citizen or entity.
The Trump administration has said the ban will not apply to citizens of the six countries with a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the US.
Hawaii said grandparents, uncles and aunts and other close relatives should also be exempted. The state asked Judge Watson, who blocked the president's revised travel ban in March, to clarify that those family members are also exempt from the ban.
Judge Watson rejected Hawaii's request, saying the state should go to the US Supreme Court since it was seeking to clarify that court's requirement of a "bona fide relationship."
Hawaii appealed Judge Watson's ruling to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but the court said Judge Watson's ruling was not appealable under federal judicial laws. The 9th Circuit, however, said Judge Watson had the authority to interpret the Supreme Court's order and block any violation of it. Hawaii then renewed its last week request with Judge Watson in a different form.
"Because plaintiffs now seek such injunctive relief, the court reaches the merits of their request, consistent with the Ninth Circuit's guidance," Judge Watson wrote.
The Hawaii attorney general's office did not immediately comment on Judge Watson's ruling.
The US Department of Justice declined to comment Thursday.