What’s Going on with the Travel Ban?

It’s been just over three weeks since the travel ban was partially confirmed by the Supreme Court. In that time, a series of contestations and revisions have ensued:

The First Challenge to the Travel Ban

The travel ban received its first court challenge the day it was implemented, from the state of Hawaii. The motion filed by the state requested that the government revoke the ban’s enforcement. In addition, the motion requested clarification on the definition of ‘bona fide relationships’.

The state of Hawaii’s challenge argued that the administration’s interpretation of appropriate familial ties was too restrictive. As such, the state asserted that grandparents, grandchildren, brother or sister-in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins should be deemed bona fide connections.

In conjunction with familial ties, Hawaii challenged the travel ban’s restriction on refugee immigration. The motion decried refugee entry denial if individuals had documented agreements, local sponsors, and a place to live.

The Federal Judge’s Ruling

On July 13th, U.S District Judge Derrick Watson responded to and affirmed Hawaii’s motion. In his response, Watson asserted that it was ‘common sense’ to include grandparents and other relations as close family. As close family members, Watson determined that these individuals met the requirements of bona fide relations.

In addition to ruling on familial relations, Judge Watson issued a statement on refugee restrictions. Noting that a resettlement organization’s assurances are formal, documented agreements only granted with Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) approval, Watson overturned the administration’s restriction.

After learning about Judge Watson’s ruling, Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Later that day, the administration filed a motion with the Supreme Court for clarification.

Supreme Court Issues Secondary Order

On Wednesday, July 19th, the Supreme Court responded to the administration’s motion. The unsigned short order had two parts. In the first, the Supreme Court upheld Judge Watson’s ruling legitimizing a wider array of familial ties. In the second, the Court denied Watson’s claim regarding refugee resettlement organizations.

As a result, the order affirmed the travel ban’s ability to continue blocking refugees whose only ties to the U.S were resettlement agencies. However, the administration is required to abide by expansions to accepted family connections.

In addition, a six-justice majority has urged the administration to proceed with its appeal through the lower courts. As a result, the U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will hear the appeal.

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