Federal judge turns back Hawaii's motion on Trump's travel ban

Updated: Jul. 6, 2017 at 5:43 PM HST
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A federal judge has denied an emergency motion filed by the State of Hawaii that would broaden the familial exceptions to President Trump's travel ban.

In a motion filed by the state after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated portions of the ban on June 26, Attorney General Doug Chin argued that the Trump administration wrongly excluded grandparents and other relatives from the list of family members who can obtain visas to travel to the United States.

Under the ban, people from the six Muslim-majority nations that are impacted by the ban who sought new visas need to have either a 'close relationship' with a family member – parent, spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling – or an entity such as a business within the United States.

Last week, attorneys for the federal government said that the 'close' family relationships allowed under the President Trump's travel ban were based on definitions outlined by immigration law.

The state's emergency motion – denied on Thursday by Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu – sought to make sure that the ban couldn't be enforced against other family members, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles.

In his ruling, Watson reasoned that since the portion of the ban Hawaii was seeking to clarify was authored by the Supreme Court, the state's lawyers should seek clarification directly from them.

"This Court will not upset the Supreme Court's careful balancing and "equitable judgment" ... nor would this district court presume to substitute its own understanding of the stay for that of the originating Court's "exercise of discretion and judgment," said Watson.

Attorney General Chin says the court's ruling was procedural and shouldn't be considered a decision in either party's favor.

"He declined to address the specific merits of our request to clarify the scope of the injunction of the travel and refugee bans," Chin said in a statement. "While we understand Judge Watson's direction to address our request to the United States Supreme Court, we must evaluate that against the normal course of order as it relates to appeals and the clarification of injunctions.

"Whatever course it takes, we will get this resolved," he added.

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