Federal Court Blocks Trump’s Ban on Muslim Grandmothers

Trump's anti-Muslim policies suffer another court defeat.

The Federal District Court in Hawaii issued an order yesterday exempting the grandparents of U.S. Citizens and others in the U.S. from the revised Muslim Travel Ban.

Last month the Supreme Court allowed part of the Muslim Travel Ban on non-immigrant visitors to the United States from six countries to go into effect. It provided an exemption from the ban for those with a “bona fide” relationship to to permanent residents and citizens already in the United States. The Court said that a “close familial relationship” would qualify a visitor for the exemption. According to the Federal District Court in Hawaii  “the Supreme Court identified illustrative, but not exhaustive, examples of ‘close familial relationships.’ A spouse and a mother-in-law ‘clearly’ qualify, but which other relationships meet this standard is less clear.”

The Trump adminstration issued a revised ban, which exempted a very narrow class of relatives of persons already in the U.S.  The Trump list includes only parents, parents-in-law, spouses, fiancés, children, adult sons or daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, siblings (whether whole or half), and step relationships.

Judge Derrick Watson said in his decision that subjecting grandparents to the travel ban made no sense. Why, he asked, would a father-in-law be a close relative, but a grandmother would not? Judge Watson wrote:

the 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 judge issued a nationwide injunction against the Muslim Ban applying to “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States.”


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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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