Wednesday, July 12, 2017

15 states join Hawaii in fight to expand exemptions from Trump's travel ban

Hawaii's Attorney General Douglas Chin

HAWAII'S renewed effort to broaden the scope of exceptions to President Donald Trump's executive order on travel got a lot more support when 15 states and the District of Columbia added their voices to the fight. 
The 16 states are urging a federal judge in Honolulu to issue a ruling on Hawaii's claim that the Trump administration wrongly excluded grandparents and other relatives from the list of close family members who can still get visas to travel to the U.S. during the 90 days that the executive order is in force.

"The scope of the travel and refugee bans badly needs to be resolved and not just according to the Trump administration's interpretation," Chin said.

Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said he respects Watson's ruling but thinks there will be more opportunities to ensure the ban does not exclude grandparents and others close family members.

"We will have people directly affected by this, for sure," Ouansafi said. "When you exclude that many people, the circle is much wider."

Federal appeals court Judge Derrick Kahala Watson dismissed Hawaii's first effort on Friday but indicated a way for the state to try again. 

Watson said it was not his role to interpret a Supreme Court ruling from last month that allowed Trump to proceed with his efforts to suspend visa issuance to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries and to halt refugees from around the globe. While the justices partially revived a policy that lower federal courts had stayed, the high court also gave foreigners with certain kinds of U.S. ties a reprieve from the limits—at least until the justices hear formal arguments on the issue in October.
Lawyers for Hawaii immediately drafted new papers and filed them the next day.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel returned the lawsuit to Watson after saying that the judge does have the authority to rule on the Trump administration's interpretation of the Supreme Court decision.

The State Department said parents, parents-in-law, spouses, fianc├ęs, children and children-in-law would be exempt from the ban on visas for travel to the United States from six predominantly Muslim countries. Hawaii wants to expand that list to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and siblings-in-law.

As the government is now enforcing the ban, New York's friend of the court brief said, "an ailing grandmother could not receive end-of-life care from her foreign granddaughter. A niece whose foreign aunt was like a mother to her could not bring that aunt to witness and celebrate her wedding. And an orphaned child would not be permitted to receive a visit from the uncle who took care of her financial and emotional needs after her father's untimely death."
The other states who have sided with Hawaii and New York are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.