On September 7, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided that grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of American residents in the affected countries can enter the USA. State v. Trump, 2017 WL 3911055 (9th Cir. Sept. 7, 2017). This decision follows the US Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Hawai’i v. Trump which on June 26, 2017, partially reinstated the “travel ban” executive order No. 13780, 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (Mar. 6, 2017).
The District Court of Hawai’i had on July 13, 2017 clarified that grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, or cousins are a “close familial relationship” giving rise to the “bona fide relationship” exception to the travel ban which the US Supreme Court had created and that the Government had defined “close familial relationships” too narrowly by excluding these classes of relatives. Hawai‘i v. Trump, 2017 WL 2989048 (D. Haw. July 13, 2017). The court also held that refugees with a formal assurance have bona fide relationships with refugee resettlement agencies and that refugees in USRAP through the Lautenberg Amendment (a program designed to protect individuals in persecuted religious minorities) should categorically be protected. The Ninth Circuit affirmed both parts of the District Court’s order.