Justices urged to reject Trump plea to tighten travel ban

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Under the rules, applicants from the six nations - Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen - need to demonstrate a bona fide relationship with a man or entity, including a "close familial relationship" in the U.S. to be absolved from the ban. The Trump administration interpreted that exemption as applying only to immediate family members such as a parent, spouse, fiancé, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling.

But the state of Hawaii successfully challenged those restrictions, saying they weren't in keeping with the Supreme Court's ruling that people with "bona fide" family members should be allowed to visit.

United States district judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu found the government can not bar grandparents and other relatives of American citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from getting visas under the ban.

Current Justice Department officials believe that the ruling should only be made by the Supreme Court.

Refugee resettlement agencies have stated that their relationship with refugees who have already been approved to travel to the USA should count as "bona fide" under the Supreme Court decision.

The Friday memo updated the definition of "close family" members who are exempt from the temporary travel ban laid down in Mr Trump's March 6 executive order.

In Tuesday's court filing, Hawaii's lawyers described the USA government's argument as "nonsense", saying it was reasonable for the lower court to conclude that grandparents are close relatives.

Tillerson's cable is unclear on another part of Trump's executive order that denies entry to refugees and other immigrants without a "close familial relationship".

The Supreme Court said that ban could go into effect except when it came to individuals with a "bona fide relationship" with a United States person or entity.

Those had been omitted by the department after the Supreme Court partially upheld the Trump administration's travel ban in June. "It's really going to depend on how the administration reacts to this".

Judge Watson initially said that it was up to the Supreme Court to clear up its ruling, but late Thursday he issued a new opinion ruling that the administration's latest policy was too strict.

The decision is sure to upset xenophobic garden gnome Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who complained that Hawaii's ruling to protect grandparents "undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers". Hawaii and refugee groups argue that resettlement agencies have a "bona fide" relationship with the refugees they help, sometimes over the course of years.

In that ruling the justices sought to strike a middle ground balancing Mr. Trump's powers versus the rights of a select group of people in the U.S. Justice Department lawyers, though, said if Judge Watson is right, nearly everyone can continue to travel to the U.S. despite the ban.

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