A Hawaii judge is loosening the restrictions on Trump’s travel ban, citing “common sense”

Grandparents welcomed.
Grandparents welcomed.
Image: AP Photo/Marco Garcia
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A judge in Hawaii has struck again, and Donald Trump will not be pleased.

On Thursday (July 13) evening in Honolulu, federal judge Derrick Watson ruled that a broader group of relatives of people in the US are exempt from Trump’s temporary travel ban than what the US president had proposed. Under the ban, which applies to all refugees as well as people from six Muslim-majority countries—Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen—only narrow categories of people from those nations were considered for new visas.

As a temporary measure until it can make its final decision in the fall, the Supreme Court on June 26 allowed Trump’s ban to be implemented, but with a major exception: It exempted visa applicants if they can prove a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the US. But that left “bona fide” open to interpretation. Under Trump’s interpretation, that would mean a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling. Watson called that definition “unduly restrictive” and expanded it to include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and other relatives.

In doing so, Watson cited “common sense.” He wrote:

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.

This is not the first time Watson has weighed in on Trump’s travel ban. In March, he issued a temporary restraining order on the ban as it stood at that time. The ban was then in its second iteration, after Trump had given up on the first attempt. Watson wrote at the time:

The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.

The travel ban saga started in January, following a hastily implemented executive order from Trump that caused travel chaos and led to protests at airports. The ban was temporarily suspended by a federal court in Seattle on Feb. 3—a decision later backed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a final decision on the ban early in its next session, which begins in October.