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Federal judge expands travel ban exemptions

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Hawaii [official website] expanded [opinion, PDF] the exemptions permitted under the Trump administration's temporary travel ban on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries late Thursday night. Earlier this month the state of Hawaii asked Judge Derrick Watson to interpret the scope of a ruling [JURIST report] from the Supreme Court [official website] that was further defined [JURIST report] by the administration a week later. Watson initially denied [JURIST report] the state's request because he did not want to "usurp the prerogative of the Supreme Court." Hawaii appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website], but the application was dismissed [JURIST report] on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction. Although he refused to define the Supreme Court's ruling, Watson agreed to review the government's interpretation and after doing so widened the definition [AP report] of "close family members" to include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and brothers-and-sisters-in-law. Additionally, Watson stated that refugees with an assurance from a US resettlement agency meets the Supreme Court's requirements because it is a formal, documented contract that places obligations upon a specific individual who has been approved for entry by the Department of Homeland Security [official website]. He concluded, "Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that."

Cases concerning issues of immigration from predominantly Muslim countries continue to be processed in the federal judiciary. In June the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] denied in part [JURIST report] and granted in part a motion to dismiss a class action suit filed against President Donald Trump and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) [official website]. Also in June the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the deportation of more than 100 Iraq nationals, arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] agents, for approximately two weeks, during which time the court will decide whether it has jurisdiction in the matter. Earlier that same month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled against [JURIST report; case materials] the majority of Trump's revised executive order limiting travel from six Muslim-majority countries. That ruling affirmed [JURIST report] the majority of a district court injunction in March that blocked the order from being enforced. In May a federal district court in Washington granted a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] to allow legal aid groups to continue to provide certain kinds of assistance to undocumented immigrants. Five days prior a Michigan federal district court ordered [JURIST report] the Trump administration to disclose the draft of the so-called "Muslim ban" executive order.

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