The Justice Department furthermore asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Saturday to put a hold on a judge's ruling last week that expands the list of family relationships that refugees and visitors from six Muslim-majority countries can use to get into the country.
The State Department on Monday expanded its definition of "close family" to include grandparents and other relatives that constitute a bona fide USA relationship for visa applicants and refugees from six mainly Muslim nations.
Previously, the State Department defined close relationships as limited to spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons- and daughters-in-law, fiancés and siblings, as the agency claims that this has been set out in immigration law guidelines. He rejected a request to categorically exempt all Iraqis refugee applicants who believe they are at risk due to their work for the USA government since March, 2003, as interpreters and translators, for instance.
A Supreme Court decision earlier this summer allowed the Trump administration to move forward with its executive order, but said that people with close family relationships should be able to apply for a visa and enter the United States. However, in his July 13 ruling, Watson chose to expand the exemption considerably, to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of people already in this country.
"Grandparents are the epitome of close family members", the judge wrote. "That simply can not be", Judge Derrick Watson wrote in his decision on July 14.
In its legal filing late Friday, the Justice Department said Judge Watson's ruling badly misconstrues the Supreme Court's decision last month.More news: Dog Saves Drowning Fawn Off NY Beach
In his ruling, Watson touted the superiority of his own definition above that of the Trump administration, asserting: "The Government's definition represents the antithesis of common sense".
Sessions, however, said that "the district court has improperly substituted its policy preferences for that of the Executive branch, defying both the lawful prerogatives of the Executive Branch and the directive of the Supreme Court".
The court, with only vague guidance, left it to the administration to decide what those close relationships were.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a strongly worded statement announcing the appeal on Friday, accused the Hawaii court of having "undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion and violated a proper respect for separation of powers".
The opponents of the travel ban policy see the recent order as a victory. This well-intentioned item was misconstrued by critics (including a Seattle judge who ruled against it on February 3) as being "anti-Muslim", so it was removed from the second order.
The Court in June reinstated President Donald J. Trump's travel ban until oral arguments were heard in October, 2017. The conservative-leaning Supreme Court is not now in session, but the justices can handle emergency requests.