Grandma Is Family Again – By Dahlia Lithwick JULY 14 2017 2:15 PM


A judge rules against POTUS’ travel ban guidelines saying grandparents don’t count as close family.

In the latest twist in the travel ban wars, Judge Derrick Watson issued an order late Thursday night finding that the Trump administration’s definition of close family for the purposes of exclusion from the ban is too narrow. In response to last month’s Supreme Court ruling sanctioning part of the ban but voiding it for travelers with “close family” in the United States, the administration issued guidance that defined “close family” as parents or parents-in-law, a spouse, children, siblings, and step and half siblings. (Subsequently, they added fiancées as a protected group.) Judge Watson wrote that the government’s cramped definition—which excluded grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, and any other “extended” family members—“represents the antithesis of common sense.”

Watson was the same judge who issued an injunction in March blocking the second version of Trump’s executive order. That travel ban called for a 90-day pause on travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries and a 120-day hiatus on refugee resettlement. Watson’s injunction was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But at the end of June, the Supreme Court ordered that a modified version of the travel ban would be allowed to go into effect. Effective immediately, however, travelers able to show a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” would be allowed to come here.

The court explained:

For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member, like Doe’s wife or Dr. Elshikh’s mother-in-law, clearly has such a relationship. As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2.

It was easy to predict tons of litigation over what a bona fide relationship constituted, and so it’s come to pass.

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