In March, President Donald Trump signed his initial 90 day travel ban on people coming from six Muslim-majority nations. ThIS ban covered people coming from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The reason given was national security, giving the president the power to determine who enters America. It also argued this measure would give authorities time to perform “extreme vetting” of travelers.
After months delay of, because of the 9th Circuit blocking their wishes, the showdown was resolved by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, or so many thought. In June, the highest court gave the Trump administration a resounding 9-0 win that many assumed would end the debate until the lawyers met again before the justices a few months later. In this political climate on steroids, that was too generous, and less than a month later, this wound is being reopened.
Last night, in a shocking move, a Hawaii federal judge decided that he was supreme, and effectively dared anyone to stop him. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu decided that the administrations definition of “bona fide” relationships was too narrow, and has unilaterally expanded it greatly.
The case was before the judge because the state of Hawaii had asked Watson to interpret the Supreme Court’s exception regarding these “bona fide relationships”.
The judge ruled that the government cannot stop grandparents and other family members traveling. As a result, the judge alone deemed “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States,” can all now enter.
Watson went on to write, and seemingly poke the government, “Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members.”
This ruling leaves many people confused, and reopens the door for people the federal government was trying to keep out.
As of now, there has been no push back from the Trump administration, which had interpreted “bona fide” relationships to only cover spouses, parents, children, fiancés and siblings.
Commenting on the victory Melanie Nezer, vice president of global refugee advocacy group HIAS, said this likely means more refugees can be resettled in the United States.
Another advocate for the refugees, Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project said “We are thrilled that thousands of people will be reunited with their family members.”
Both ladies now expect around 24,000 additional refugees to be allowed entry, thanks to this judge’s ruling. They also expect to now exceed the cap of 50,000 resettled refugees, a limit which had been met just this week.
While being delayed in their reunification is tough, safety trumps frustration, at least in the eyes of many Americans, and the government. This travel ban was not only temporary, but it was not an explicit denial of entry. It was a break to establish best practices on how people can be verified.
If people have waited this long, can they wait a few more months to ensure American lives are not at risk?
By expanding the law of what is family, there is no one who can be blocked by the president, who the Supreme Court ruled can determine who comes into America. By the judges logic, if a terrorist can get anyone here, that person can claim familial relationship and import a who cell of killers. That is a very real possibility because the administrations argument is that people coming into America from these banned countries cannot be verified, due to the lack of a central government.
This judge’s actions not only defy what many Americans feel is the boss of this federal judge, but his actions are without consequences. Since the Supreme Court has no enforcement power, if a federal judge, wants to flout their decisions, he can. If there is another case of a family member of a refugee turning his anger against the land that has welcomed him, or her, and their family in, Watson can not be held responsible.
Not so long ago the left was fretting the “Constitutional crisis” that would arise should President Trump ignore the ruling of a judge, but it is eerily silent today as a federal judge ignores the highest court in our republic.