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Hawaii Judge Exempts Grandparents And Other Relatives From Trump Travel Ban

Critics of President Trump’s travel ban hold signs during a news conference with Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin on June 30 in Honolulu.

A federal judge in Hawaii has put new limits on the Trump administration’s travel ban on people from six mostly Muslim countries, allowing travel for grandparents, grandchildren, and other family members of people in the United States.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson’s order Thursday prevents the administration from enforcing the travel ban against grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

In his ruling, Watson took aim at how the administration defines a close familial relationship, writing, "[T]he Government’s definition represents the antithesis of common sense. Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be."

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the ban on people seeking to travel to the United States from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may not be enforced against those who have a "bona fide relationship" to people in the United States. The Trump administration said that would include parents, spouses, fiances, sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law or siblings.

Thursday’s ruling came in response to the state of Hawaii’s request for an injunction against the Trump administration’s enforcement of the ban on expanded family members.

In a statement, Hawaii’s Attorney General Douglas Chin said, "The federal court today makes clear that the U.S. Government may not ignore the scope of the partial travel ban as it sees fit. Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough. Courts have found that this Executive Order has no basis in stopping terrorism and is just a pretext for illegal and unconstitutional discrimination. We will continue preparing for arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in October."

As of early Friday, the Justice Department had not commented on the ruling.