The Justice Department moved quickly on Friday to appeal a federal judge’s latest ruling trimming President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, while the administration is separately laying the groundwork for new and broader restrictions.
The latest chapter in the fast-moving saga began Thursday evening in Honolulu, where U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled that the Trump administration’s recent implementation of its ban contradicted the interim rules put in place by the Supreme Court on June 26.
Mr. Trump’s restrictions, which cited terrorism concerns, imposed a 90-day ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries, while also suspending the admission of refugees temporarily. Last month’s Supreme Court’s decision allowed the GOP president to enforce the ban against people with no ties to the U.S., but not against people who have close connections to family or institutions in the U.S.
Mr. Trump’s administration took a narrow reading of who qualified for the Supreme Court’s exemption to the ban. But Judge Watson, an appointee of Mr. Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, ruled Thursday that the government must admit a broader class of people than it wanted. That includes extended family members like grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as a wider class of refugees.
The judge found that the Trump administration’s restricted view of who counts as close family “represents the antithesis of common sense.” The administration said its approach was grounded solidly in how close family relationships are defined in portions of federal immigration law.
The Supreme Court is already set to give the case full consideration in October. But the Justice Department signaled Friday it wants to block Judge Watson’s ruling before then.
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