The legal battle between the White House and the state of Hawaii rages on in connection to the travel ban.
The Trump administration made a direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court late Friday after a federal judge in Hawaii ordered to expand the list of U.S. family relationships that refugees and visitors from six countries that sponsor terrorism can use to get into the country, including grandparents and grandchildren.
According to Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, more than 24,000 refugees have already been vetted and approved by the United States, but the 120-day freeze on refugee admissions would have changed everything for them.
“Many of them had already sold all of their belongings to start their new lives in safety,” she said. “This decision gives back hope to so many who would otherwise be stranded indefinitely.”
The administration has capped refugee admissions at 50,000 for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, a limit it hit this week.
The federal budget can accommodate up to 75,000 refugees, but admissions have slowed under this administration, and the government could keep those numbers down.
The travel ban applies to citizens of Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen. Most legal challenges to the temporary order have been successful.
The Supreme Court’s ruling exempted refugees and travelers who can prove they have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or an entity in the U.S. The justices said they could include a close relative, a job offer or admission to a college or university.
The Trump administration defined “bona fide” relationships as people who had a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson expanded that group to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin, who sought the broader definition, said Thursday’s ruling “makes clear that the U.S. government may not ignore the scope of the partial travel ban as it sees fit.” He added, “Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough.”
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