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Trump asks court to block ruling exempting grandparents from travel ban

Trump's travel ban targets refugees and travellers from six Muslim-majority countries [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 July, 2017

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Trump's administration has challenged a Supreme Court ruling allowing grandparents to be exempt from the travel ban affecting travellers and refugees from six Muslim-majority countries.
Trump's administration has appealed against a judge's decision to exempt grandparents from the travel ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.

The US Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to block a judge's ruling that prevented President Donald Trump's travel ban from being applied to grandparents of US citizens and refugees already being processed by resettlement agencies.

In a court filing, the administration asked the court to overturn Thursday's decision by a US district judge in Hawaii, which limited the scope of the administration's temporary ban on refugees and travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.

The latest round in the fight over Trump's March 6 executive order, which he says is needed for national security reasons, came after the Supreme Court intervened last month to partially revive the two bans, which were blocked by lower courts.

The Supreme Court said then that the ban could take effect, but that people with a "bona fide relationship" to a US person or entity could not be barred. 

The administration had narrowly interpreted that language, saying the ban would apply to grandparents and other family members, prompting the state of Hawaii to ask Hawaii-based US District Judge Derrick Watson to expand the definition of who could be admitted.

In his decision on Thursday, Watson harshly criticised the government's definition of close family relations as "the antithesis of common sense".

Watson ordered the government not to enforce the ban for foreigners who have close relatives in the US such as grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts.

He also ordered that refugees who have a relationship with a refugee aid agency in the US cannot be blocked.

The ruling, if left in place, means refugees can continue to be resettled in the United States, beyond a cap of 50,000 set by the executive order. That limit was reached this week.

The Supreme Court's decision last month revived parts of Trump's executive order banning travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, as well as refugees for 120 days.

The court also agreed to hear oral arguments in the fall over whether the ban violates the US Constitution.

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