On Thursday, a judge in Hawaii loosened Trump's travel ban by exempting grandparents from the policy's restrictions. After the travel ban was implemented in late June, travelers from six majority-Muslim nations had to prove they had "bona fide" relationships with people in the United States in order to bypass the ban and enter the country. Though the State Department's definition of "bona fide" was incredibly limited at first, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has forced it to expand.
In the ruling on Thursday, Watson criticized the ban of being both "unduly restrictive" and "the antithesis of common sense." He wrote:
What is clear from the Supreme Court's decision is that this Court's analysis is to be guided by consideration of whether foreign nationals have a requisite "connection" or "tie" to this country. Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government's definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.
Initially, the Trump administration had decided that the travel ban wouldn't apply to travelers who have spouses, parents, children, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, fiancés, or siblings in the states. Now, that list of exemptions will include not only grandparents but also grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In addition to loosening the definition of "close family," Watson also made it easier for more refugees to be admitted into the United States. He ruled that if a refugee already has "a documented agreement with a local sponsor and a place to live," the government doesn't have the right to enforce the travel ban upon him or her. In his decision, Watson wrote down his reasoning:
An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court's touchstones: it is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations, including compensation, it is issued specific to an individual refugee only when that refugee has been approved for entry by the Department of Homeland Security, and it is issued in the ordinary course, and historically has been for decades. Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.
Trump has yet to respond to Watson's decision, but it's possible that he could take it to either the Supreme Court or the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals if he disagrees with the amendments to the ban.