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Trump administration's travel ban takes another judicial hit

The Trump administration’s travel ban on travelers from six designated countries took another hit Thursday when a federal appeals court ruled that grandparents, cousins, and extended family of Americans should not be banned from entering the United States.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided unanimously with an earlier ruling by a Hawaii judge who blocked Trump’s travel ban in March and expanded the list of those exempt from it in July, based on the definition of “close familial relationship.” The ban is against travelers and refugees from six Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.

“If mothers-in-law clearly fall within the scope of the injunction, then so too should grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins,” the three judges on the panel wrote in a joint opinion. “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 court also ruled Thursday that refugees connecting with resettlement organizations should also be allowed in the U.S.

“Refugees’ lives remain in vulnerable limbo during the pendency of the Supreme Court’s stay,” the judges wrote. “Refugees have only a narrow window of time to complete their travel, as certain security and medical checks expire and must then be reinitiated. Even short delays may prolong a refugee’s admittance.”

Since a temporary order was issued by the Supreme Court in June, Trump’s travel ban has been able to impose a 120-day ban on any refugee trying to resettle without a “bona fide relationship” and a 90-day ban on individuals from the designated Muslim-majority countries.