Washington: President Donald Trump’s administration took the dispute over his temporary travel ban to the Supreme Court again, asking the justices to let the government bar entry into the US by people with grandparents and cousins in the country.
The administration filed papers late Friday asking the court to clarify a 26 June ruling that said the government had to admit at least some close relatives, including spouses and parents-in-law. A federal trial judge in Hawaii this week said the ruling meant the government couldn’t exclude several other types of family members either.
The Hawaii judge’s ruling “distorts this court’s decision and upends the equitable balance this court struck," acting US Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall said in court papers.
The Supreme Court already has agreed to hear arguments in the fall on Trump’s 90-day ban, which applies to people entering the US from six mostly Muslim countries. The 26 June ruling said a limited form of the ban could take effect in the meantime, allowing only people with a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" to enter.
The limited travel ban took effect 30 June. The Trump administration announced it would let people enter the US who had a parent, spouse, fiance, child, sibling, son- or daughter-in-law, or a parent-in-law in the country. The standard excluded those with grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and brothers- or sisters-in-law.
US District Judge Derrick Watson ruled on Thursday that the government’s exemption from the ban was too narrow.
“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," Watson wrote.
The Supreme Court had said people with a “bona fide relationship" included those visiting a close family member, students who have been admitted to a university or workers who have accepted an employment offer.
In announcing the administration would immediately take the matter to the Supreme Court, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Friday, “Once again, we are faced with a situation in which a single federal district court has undertaken by a nationwide injunction to micromanage decisions of the co-equal executive branch related to our national security."
Trump’s 6 March executive order said the 90-day travel ban would give officials time to assess US vetting procedures and would address an “unacceptably high" risk that terrorists could slip into the country. Lower courts blocked the ban, saying Trump overstepped his authority and unconstitutionally targeted Muslims.
When the Supreme Court partially revived the travel ban in June, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have let the entire ban take effect immediately. Thomas warned that the definition of bona fide relationships would open the door to a “flood of litigation" as US customs and border officials wrestle with whether travellers from the six countries have sufficient ties.
In its new court filing, the Trump administration asked the court to block Watson’s order temporarily while the justices consider the motion to clarify.
The administration also said Watson was wrong to permit more refugees to be admitted under a separate provision in Trump’s executive order. Watson said the government couldn’t exclude refugees once a resettlement agency has provided a formal assurance that it will provide basic services for the person. Bloomberg