A Hawaii judge has once again weakened President Donald Trump’s attempts to enforce a blanket travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled Thursday night that grandparents and other close relatives can’t be restricted from entering the U.S. That policy, articulated after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the administration’s travel ban, “represents the antithesis of common sense,” Watson wrote.
Watson also ordered exemptions for refugees who have been given formal assurance from agencies placing them in the United States. The ban set a limit on refugee admissions at 50,000, which the U.S. reached earlier this week.
The decision delivered the latest blow to the Trump administration’s attempts to prevent people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia from traveling to the U.S. While Trump has framed the policy as a national security issue, several courts have found a discriminatory basis.
Although the travel ban still stands, Neal Katyal, a lawyer for those challenging Trump’s executive order, called the Thursday ruling a “sweeping victory.” The lawsuit was brought by Hawaii, 15 other states, and the District of Columbia.
Last month, the Supreme Court granted the government permission to enforce its travel restrictions but said it had to allow those with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship” to enter the country. The Trump administration interpreted that to mean only spouses and fiances, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, and siblings — including step and half-relations — of those already in the country.
In his decision, Watson zeroed in on the fact that grandparents were notably excluded from the definition, and thus, the country.
“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” Watson wrote. “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members.”
Now, “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States” are free to travel to the U.S. The White House will likely appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which already struck down Trump’s previous attempt at a travel ban, to get Watson’s order lifted or go directly to the Supreme Court again.
Watson’s decision Thursday isn’t his first against the administration’s travel ban. Back in March, he halted Trump’s revised executive order just hours before it was scheduled to go into effect.