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Appeals court denies Hawaii’s request to remove relatives from travel ban

Judges from the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals declined Hawaii’s request to allow more relatives to bypass President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The panel of three judges said it did not have jurisdiction to issue a ruling over Hawaii’s request to make grandparents and other relatives of people already living in the United States exempt from the ban.

Friday’s ruling came a day after U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson of the District of Hawaii declined to clarify the scope of the ban and encouraged the plaintiffs to seek guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judges Michael Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez said in their Friday ruling they “do not fault” Watson for rejecting Hawaii’s request and suggested the plaintiffs made an error by asking the district judge to “clarify” the instructions rather than requesting “injunctive relief or to modify the injunction” of the ban.

“Although the district court may not have authority to clarify an order of the Supreme Court, it does possess the ability to interpret and enforce the Supreme Court’s order, as well as the authority to enjoin against, for example, a party’s violation of the Supreme Court’s order,” the judges wrote.

President Trump’s executive order, which the Supreme Court allowed to be partially implemented in June, prohibits approving visas over 90 days for citizens of six Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

The State Department decided that parents, parents-in-law, spouses, fiancées, children, and children-in-law were exempt from the ban, while grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and siblings-in-law would be subject to the ban.

Lawyers for Hawaii stated the restrictions unlawfully excluded foreign nationals.

“Every day that passes is a day when our government is turning away human beings – from newborn children to elderly grandparents – whom the injunction requires to be admitted,” the state argued to the appeals court.

The U.S. Department of Justice expressed pleasure with Watson’s decision, which kept the terms of the ban in place.

“If the plaintiffs elect to proceed, we are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will again vindicate the President and his constitutional duty to protect the national security of the United States,” the department said.

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