A.G. Jeff Ses­sions vows to take the case back to the U.S. Supreme Court

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jen­nifer Sinco Kelle­her, The As­so­ci­ated Press

A fed­eral judge in Hawaii fur­ther weak­ens the travel ban by vastly ex­pand­ing the list of fam­ily re­la­tion­ships that vis­i­tors from six Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries can use to get into the U.S. »

HONOLULU» In an­other set­back for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, a fed­eral judge in Hawaii fur­ther weak­ened the al­ready-di­luted travel ban by vastly ex­pand­ing the list of U.S. fam­ily re­la­tion­ships that vis­i­tors from six Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries can use to get into the coun­try.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions said Fri­day that the ad­min­is­tra­tion will ap­peal the rul­ing to the U.S. Supreme Court, choos­ing to by­pass the San Fran­cisco-based ap­peals court that has ruled against it and go back to the high court. The jus­tices al­lowed a scaled­back ver­sion of the travel ban to take ef­fect last month and set ar­gu­ments for Oc­to­ber.

The move is the lat­est vol­ley in the fierce fight over the ban Trump first tried to put in place in Jan­uary.

The rules are not so much an out­right ban as a tight­en­ing of tough visa poli­cies af­fect­ing cit­i­zens from Syria, Su­dan, So­ma­lia, Libya, Iran and Ye­men. Peo­ple from those coun­tries who al­ready have visas will be al­lowed into the U.S.

Only nar­row cat­e­gories of peo­ple, in­clud­ing those with rel­a­tives named in the rul­ing, will be con­sid­ered for new visas. U.S. Dis­trict Judge Der­rick Wat­son or­dered the gov­ern­ment not to en­force the ban on grand­par­ents, grand­chil­dren, broth­ers-in- law, sis­ters-in-law, aunts, un­cles, nieces, neph­ews and cousins of peo­ple in the U.S.

“Com­mon sense, for in­stance, dic­tates that close fam­ily mem­bers be de­fined to in­clude grand­par­ents,” Wat­son said in his rul­ing. “In­deed grand­par­ents are the epit­ome of close fam­ily mem­bers.”

Wat­son also ruled that the gov­ern­ment may not ex­clude refugees who have for­mal as­sur­ance and prom­ise of place­ment ser­vices from a re­set­tle­ment agency in the U.S.

The rul­ing could bring re­lief to more than 24,000 refugees who had al­ready been vet­ted and ap­proved by the United States, re­set­tle­ment agen­cies said.

“Many of them had al­ready sold all of their be­long­ings to start their new lives in safety,” said Becca Heller, di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Refugee As­sis­tance Project. “This de­ci­sion gives back hope to so many who would oth­er­wise be stranded in­def­i­nitely.”

White House home­land se­cu­rity ad­viser Tom Bossert told re­porters that Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion lawyers will closely re­view the rul­ing, but it ap­pears broad enough to “cover ev­ery refugee.”

Bossert said he does not be­lieve that was the in­ter­pre­ta­tion the U.S. Supreme Court in­tended when it re­in­stated the travel ban against those with­out a “bona fide re­la­tion­ship” with a per­son or an en­tity in the U.S.

The jus­tices didn’t de­fine a bona fide re­la­tion­ship but said it could in­clude a close rel­a­tive, a job of­fer or ad­mis­sion to a col­lege or univer­sity. A re­la­tion­ship cre­ated to avoid the ban would not be ac­cept­able, they said.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion de­fined it as those who had a par­ent, spouse, fi­ance, son, daugh­ter, son-in-law, daugh­ter-in-law or sib­ling al­ready in the U.S.

The case came back to Wat­son when the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals ruled that he had the au­thor­ity to in­ter­pret the Supreme Court’s or­der and block any vi­o­la­tion of it. He broad­ened the def­i­ni­tion of what counts as a close re­la­tion­ship.

Trump has said the pol­icy is a nec­es­sary tool for na­tional se­cu­rity and fight­ing ter­ror­ism. His ini­tial travel ban in Jan­uary set off mas­sive protests at air­ports na­tion­wide and sparked a sprawl­ing le­gal fight.

Courts blocked the first ban and the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­vised ver­sion un­til the Supreme Court weighed in.

As­so­ci­ated Press file

So­mali refugee Ab­disel­lam Hassen Ahmed, whose ar­rival was de­layed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Jan­uary travel ban, walks with his wife, Nimo Hashi, and their 2-year-old daugh­ter, Taslim, at Salt Lake City In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Feb. 10.

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