A FEDERAL judge in Hawaii has expanded the list of family members who can be relied on by people seeking US visas from six mostly Muslim countries, in a bid to avoid President Trump’s travel ban.

US District Judge Derrick Watson ordered the government not to enforce the ban on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people in the US.

“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” judge Watson said in his ruling. “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members.”

Loading article content

The US Supreme Court last month exempted visa applicants from the ban if they can prove a “bona fide” relationship with a US citizen or entity.

The Trump administration has said the ban will not apply to citizens of the six countries with a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the US.

Hawaii ruled that grandparents, uncles and aunts and other close relatives should also be exempted. The state asked Judge Watson, who blocked the President’s revised travel ban in March, to clarify that those other family members are also exempt from the ban.

Judge Watson rejected Hawaii’s request, saying the state should go to the US Supreme Court since it was seeking to clarify its requirement of a “bona fide relationship.”

Hawaii appealed Judge Watson’s ruling to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, but the court said the judge’s ruling was not appealable under federal judicial laws.

The Ninth Circuit, however, said Judge Watson had the authority to interpret the Supreme Court’s order and block any violation of it. Hawaii then renewed last week’s request with Judge Watson in a different form.

“Because plaintiffs now seek such injunctive relief, the court reaches the merits of their request, consistent with the Ninth Circuit’s guidance,” Judge Watson wrote.

The Hawaii attorney general’s office has not yet commented on the Judge’s ruling.