Federal judge allows in range of family members; refugee agencies also allowed to bring in asylum seekers
A federal judge in Hawaii dealt President Donald Trump another legal setback in his attempt to bar immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, ruling that Trump's administration unnecessarily limited those who could be allowed into the country.
While allowing the administration to go ahead with some aspects of the ban, the Supreme Court said late last month those with "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship" with U.S. individuals or entities should be exempted.
The Trump administration was criticized for how it interpreted the decision, with many claiming as capricious and arbitrary its definition of qualifying relations.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled late Thursday the administration must allow in grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and cousins.
"Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," Watson wrote in his ruling. "Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.”
He also ruled that refugee resettlement agencies should be allowed to bring in asylum seekers who have been given formal assurances of placement within the U.S., saying a refugee agency resettlement assurance "meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones.
“Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that," he wrote.
The State Department said Wednesday it had surpassed a 50,000 cap for refugees Trump established in January that the Supreme Court said could be implemented in its June decision.
The number is roughly half that allowed by the Obama administration and is meant to last until the end of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.