The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump opposed opening the door to grandparents from six Muslim-majority countries on Monday, arguing in a court filing that the government’s interpretation of how to implement its temporary travel ban is based on U.S. immigration law.
The U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling last Monday revived parts of Trump’s March 6 executive order that banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, which had been blocked by lower courts. The highest court let the ban go forward with a limited scope, saying that it cannot apply to anyone with credible “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity. Trump said the measure was necessary to prevent terrorist attacks.
But opponents, including states and refugee advocacy groups, sued to stop it, disputing its security rationale and saying it discriminates against Muslims. After the Supreme Court ruling, the government said that a “bona fide relationship” means close family members only: parents, spouses, siblings and children. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins from the six countries would still be banned.
The government’s definition, “hews closely to the categorical determinations articulated by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act,” Department of Justice lawyers argued in court papers on Monday. The government’s filing came after the State of Hawaii last week went to U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu, who originally ruled to block the ban, to seek clarification of the Supreme Court’s ruling, arguing the government’s definition of “bona fide relationship” was too narrow.