Appeals Court Says ‘No’ to ‘Muslim Ban’ Family Limits

By Kenrya Rankin Sep 08, 2017

In July, a U.S. district judge ruled that the Trump administration’s travel ban—which targets nationals of six mostly Muslim countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen)—must allow entry for a wider group of people with relatives living in the United States than the federal government previously outlined. The Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed to the Supreme Court for clarity, and SCOTUS sent the case to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Nearly two months later, that court has a ruling. Yesterday (September 7), it ruled unanimously in State of Hawaii v. Donald Trump that the administration cannot ban grandparents and other family members of citizens and legal residents from traveling to the U.S.

From the decision:

The government does not meaningfully argue how grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in- law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of persons in the United States can be considered to have “no connection” to or “lack any bona fide relationship” with persons in the United States. Nor does the government explain how its proposed scope of exclusion would avoid the infliction of concrete hardships on such individuals’ family members in the United States. Stated simply, the government does not offer a persuasive explanation for why a mother-in-law is clearly a bona fide relationship, in the Supreme Court’s prior reasoning, but a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin is not.

In addition to expanding the list of family members who are allowed to travel to the U.S., the court also extended the bona fide relationship clause of the ban to include refugees who, as NPR writes, “have agreements with U.S. settlement agencies.” The ban restricts the entry of refugees for 120 days. The court ordered that the decision will go into effect in five days—instead of the usual 52—citing the urgency of the situation for refugees.

In a statement released to the press, the DOJ said that it would appeal the decision: "The Supreme Court has stepped in to correct these lower courts before, and we will now return to the Supreme Court to vindicate the executive branch’s duty to protect the nation."

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the entire travel ban on October 10, though the 90-day ban will have expired by then.