A federal judge in Honolulu is expected to rule soon whether the Trump administration is unlawfully implementing the scaled-back version of the travel ban.
Hawaii filed its final motion Wednesday, clearing the way for U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson to rule whether the Trump administration “fundamentally misconstrues” the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling by subjecting grandparents and other relatives to the travel ban.
The Trump administration began implementing the travel ban last week, exempting only spouses, siblings, children and parents, as well as certain in-laws, from the travel ban.
The move followed a June 26 ruling by the Supreme Court, which allowed portions of the travel ban that applies to six Muslim-majority countries to go into effect while the justices prepare to hold a hearing over the injunctions against it — likely in October when they’re back in session.
But the court ruled that those with a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with a family member in the United States or concrete ties to an “entity” — like a university — should be exempt from the travel ban.
Despite the ruling, the Trump administration announced last week that grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and siblings-in-law would still be subject to the travel ban.
Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday, arguing that the Trump administration is taking too narrow a view of what family relationships qualify for exemption.
“Why is it that those people not allowed to come into the country? What national security initiative are we thinking about?” Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said Friday at a press conference.
In its motion filed Monday, the Trump administration argued that “close familial relationships” should only be those specifically described in certain portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
But Chin says the Trump administration is “cherry-picking,” pointing out that “other immigration laws include the very same close family members the Trump Administration wants to exclude.”
In Wednesday’s motion, Neal Katyal, a lead attorney for Hawaii, also takes issues with the Trump administration’s argument that being assigned to a refugee resettlement agency in the U.S. doesn’t amount to a “bona fide relationship.”
Katyal points out that the crux of the Supreme Court’s ruling instructs that the travel ban impose “no burden” on “the American party.”
“When a refugee’s travel is blocked, however … the resettlement agency is unable to meet the refugee, resettle her in the United States or offer the myriad other services, which it has invested substantial resources to provide,” Katyal wrote. “That is a ‘concrete hardship’ far more severe than the one an entity might experience if an arranged ‘lecturer’ is forbidden admission.
“In short, the government elected to implement the stay in a manner that jeopardizes the rights of countless Americans and keeps the government on the deeply flawed trajectory it has pursued since the release of the first executive order,” Katyal wrote.