US President Donald Trump on Thursday lost in court as his travel ban policy suffered another defeat.
An appeals court rejected the administration’s attempt to deny grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of Americans a temporary exemption from the controversial executive order.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously declined to overturn a district court judge’s ruling that the administration was taking too narrow a view of an exception the Supreme Court carved out from the travel ban in June.
The appeals court judges reasoned that since the justices said the mother-in-law of one travel-ban challenger was entitled to a reprieve from the president’s order, other relatives should enjoy the same treatment.
“If mothers-in-law clearly fall within the scope of the injunction, then so too should grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins,” Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez wrote.
“The Government does not offer a persuasive explanation for why a mother-in-law is clearly a bona fide relationship, in the Supreme Court’s prior reasoning, but a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin is not.
“Even if a resettlement agency does not have ‘direct contact’ with a refugee before arrival, this does not negate the finding that a relationship has formed.
“The agency still expends resources and arranges for individualized services based on the specific refugees that the agency has agreed to resettle.
“Resettlement agencies will face concrete harms and burdens if refugees with formal assurances are not admitted”, the 9th Circuit panel added.
Justice Department lawyers had argued that those agencies deal directly with the government and rarely have contact with refugees until around the time of their arrival, but the judges found that argument beside the point.
The revised travel ban Trump issued in March suspends issuance of U.S. visas to residents of six majority-Muslim countries and halts admission of refugees from across the globe.
The 90-day ban on issuance of visas to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen expires September 24.
The Supreme Court has set arguments on the ban’s legality for October 10.