US judge in Hawaii leaves Trump's travel ban rules in place

2017-07-07 11:11
(Mandel Ngan, AFP)

(Mandel Ngan, AFP)

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Honolulu - A federal judge in Hawaii on Thursday left Trump administration rules in place for a travel ban on citizens from six majority-Muslim countries.

US District Court Judge Derrick Watson denied an emergency motion filed by Hawaii asking him to clarify what the US Supreme Court meant by a "bona fide" relationship in its ruling last month.

The Supreme Court ruled the administration could mostly enforce its travel ban, but said those "with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" could enter.

Watson says the relationship question would be better posed to the Supreme Court, not him.

"This court will not upset the Supreme Court's careful balancing and 'equitable judgment,'" Watson said in his order.

Discriminating against Muslims

Hawaii attorney general Doug Chin objected to the administration's omission of grandparents, aunts and uncles from its list of people meeting the definition of a close relationship.

The Trump administration has said the exemption to the ban would apply to citizens of the six countries with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the US.

Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said he respects Watson's ruling but thinks there will be more opportunities to ensure the ban does not exclude grandparents and other close family members.

"We will have people directly affected by this, for sure," Ouansafi said. "When you exclude that many people, the circle is much wider."

In March, Watson blocked the ban on travelers from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen in response to a lawsuit by the state of Hawaii that argued the policy discriminates against Muslims.

Watson said there was "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus" behind the ban, which prevents new visas for people from the six countries and suspends the nation's refugee program. The administration appealed to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which largely upheld Watson's injunction.

The US Supreme Court said the president's ban on visitors from the six countries can be enforced pending arguments scheduled for October, as long as those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." Likewise, the justices said, refugees can travel to the US if they demonstrate those connections.

The high court's majority laid out the "bona fide" relationships it had in mind. For individuals, a close family relationship is required: A spouse or a mother-in-law would be permitted. So would a worker who accepted a job from an American company, a student enrolled at a US university or a lecturer invited to address a US audience.

A relationship created for purposes of avoiding the travel ban would not be bona fide, the justices said.

 

Read more on:    us  |  travel ban

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