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Trump’s Amended Travel Ban ‘Unreasonable,’ Appeals Court Rules

Donald Trump’s travel ban took a fresh hit Thursday when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there was no reason to shut out the close extended family of people already in the U.S.

In June, the Supreme Court partially reinstated the controversial ban against travellers from six Muslim-majority countries—Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Somalia—allowing the administration to keep out people with no “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with someone already in the U.S.. Crucially, it referred to people with a “close familial relationship.”

With that vague guideline, the Trump administration said it would only allow in people from the affected countries who could prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling who was already in the U.S. That meant grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, fiancées, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law were still shut out.

A few weeks later, Hawaii-based district judge Derrick Watson ruled in favor of that state, which wanted the visa criteria to be expanded to include those other close extended family relationships. In response, the government filed an appeal—leading to Thursday’s opinion.

The opinion, made by circuit judges Michael Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez, upheld Watson’s ruling, saying the government had “unreasonably” interpreted the Supreme Court’s words.

“It is clear that the Supreme Court’s use of ‘close familial relationship[s]’ meant that the Court wanted to exclude individuals who have no connection with the United States or have remote familial relationships that would not qualify as ‘bona fide,'” the judges said.

“Stated simply, the Government does not offer a persuasive explanation for why a mother-in-law is clearly a bona fide relationship, in the Supreme Court’s prior reasoning, but a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin is not.”