By Josh Gerstein
June 29, 2017
The State of Hawaii is asking a federal judge to rule that the Trump administration’s latest plan to carry out President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order defies the ruling the Supreme Court issued on the subject just four days ago.
In a new court filing, lawyers for the state and for a Hawaii Imam say guidance the Trump administration issued Thursday takes too narrow a view of what family relationships qualify to exempt a foreigner from the travel ban and would deny admission to refugees who should be exempt from the ban due to their connections to a U.S. resettlement agency.
“This Court should clarify as soon as possible that the Supreme Court meant what it said, and that foreign nationals that credibly claim connections with this country cannot be denied entry under the President’s illegal Order,” Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin and private counsel Neal Katyal wrote in a motion filed Thursday with U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson.
At about the same time the motion was filed, the Trump administration beat a partial retreat on one aspect of enforcement of the travel ban.
Earlier Thursday, officials said fiancés would enjoy no broad exemption from the directive, which calls for a 90-day halt of issuance of visas to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries and a 120-day halt to refugee admissions from around the globe.
However, moments before consular officials were set to start limiting visa issuance under new guidelines, the State Department changed its website to indicate that fiancés of U.S. citizens would be able to receive visas as usual.
Asked about the change, a State Department official confirmed the change, but offered no explanation.
“Upon further review, fiances will now be included as close family members,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that portions of Trump’s travel ban executive order could go into effect while the justices prepare to hear the case in October.
However, the high court said foreigners with a “close familial relationship” with a U.S. citizen would be exempt for now, as would those with concrete ties to a U.S. entity, like a business or university.
Despite the ruling, the Trump administration said Thursday it would not routinely exempt relatives like grandparents of U.S. citizens from the visa ban.
Administration officials also angered immigrant advocacy groups by declaring that refugees would not be considered to have U.S. ties simply because they had already been assigned to a U.S. refugee resettlement agency that had begun to make plans for their arrival.
“It is extremely difficult to see how a foreign national with an agreement to give a lecture within the United States may be considered to have a ‘formal, documented’ relationship with an entity in the United States…but a refugee with a guarantee of a local sponsor and a place to live cannot,” the Hawaii state motion says.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the Hawaii filing, which was billed as an emergency motion to clarify the scope of the court’s injunction.
Nahal Toosi, Seung Min Kim and Ted Hesson contributed to this report.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com