Travel Ban: Hawaii v. Trump, Exemptions

A Federal Judge in Hawaii ruled on Thursday July 13th, 2017 that three categories of individuals are now exempt from the revised travel ban (Executive Order 13780): grandparents; refugees who have a “formal assurance from an agency within the United States that the agency will provide…. placement services;” and refugees in the Refugee Admissions Program through the Lautenberg Program.

This order follows the recent Supreme Court decision allowing part of the revised travel ban to go into effect. The Supreme Court decision on June 26th, 2017 stayed the preliminary injunction on the travel ban, but exempted people that have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with “a person or entity in the United States.” The court specified that if people claim to have a bona fide relationship with an individual in the U.S., a “close familial relationship is required.” (For more on this ruling see the June 30th recent update). After the ruling, the State Department listed the types of relations that would fall under the definition of a ‘close familial relationship’ and a ‘bona fide relationship.’ Hawaii contested the State Department’s interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling, leading to Judge Watson’s decision.

In his decision, Judge Watson found that the government’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling was an “unduly restrictive reading of ‘close familial relationship,’” adding that “grandparents are the epitome of close family members.” Additionally, in holding that an assurance from a refugee resettlement agency counts as bona fide, Judge Watson explained that an assurance “meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones: it is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations, including compensation….bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”