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Legal Matters

U.S. Court Rules Against Trump Restrictions On Travelers With U.S. Relatives

A U.S. judge has ruled against the Trump administration's restrictions on refugees and travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries who have American relatives.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu said late on July 13 that people with grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other American relatives currently barred by the administration should be allowed into the country.

Watson was asked by the state of Hawaii to interpret a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that revived Trump's 90-day ban on refugees and citizens of Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and Sudan unless they have a "bona fide relationship" with an American relative or institution.

The Trump administration interpreted the high-court ruling to say people with American spouses, parents, children, fiances, and siblings could enter the country, but those with U.S. grandparents or other more distant family members would be barred.

The Honolulu court granted Hawaii's request to issue an injunction allowing grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, and other barred family members to travel to the United States.

Watson said the Trump administration had an "unduly restrictive reading" of what constituted a close family relationship.

He said grandparents were the "epitome" of close family members.

At the same time, the U.S. government has given all foreign governments 50 days to certify they meet new U.S. travel requirements or risk the possibility of sanctions.

The State Department on July 13 sent cables to all diplomatic missions, instructing them to confirm their host countries met standards on identity documents and information sharing.

Some of the factors the U.S. government says it will take under consideration are controversial, such as whether foreign governments have proven "that they are not and do not have to potential to become a terrorist safe haven."

The U.S. government has not specified which countries are likely to have difficulty complying, but a separate, classified cable was sent to diplomatic missions in countries deemed problematic.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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