(CN) – A team of state attorneys general launched their salvo against the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict travel to the United States by grandparents and other close relatives who come from six predominately Muslim nations.
The coalition of 16 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in the Trump administration’s appeal of a decision by a Hawaii federal judge holding that grandparents and other close relatives of U.S. residents have a ‘bona fide’ relationship to the United States.
“The courts have made clear to the Trump administration: grandparents are family,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, leader of the coalition. “Since January, attorneys general have been on the front lines fighting this unconstitutional, unlawful, and un-American ban – and we’ll continue to act to protect our communities and ensure families are not torn apart.”
The case relates to an executive order President Donald Trump signed in early March, a revision of the original travel ban he signed in January just a week into his administration.
Federal judges subsequently prevented both versions from being fully implemented, ruling there was enough evidence that Trump issued the bans to discriminate against Muslim people.
The Trump administration appealed the preliminary injunctions to the Supreme Court, which promptly effected a compromise by allowing some aspects of the travel ban to remain, while allowing those with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” to enter the country.
In response, the Trump administration developed rules that narrowly defined “bona fide relationship,” and excluded grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and first cousins.
After a series of motions and appeals filed by Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, the Ninth Circuit ruled U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, who issued the initial preliminary injunction for the revised travel ban, could decide whether grandparents and other close relatives had a bona fide relationship with the United States.
Watson promptly ruled they do under the Supreme Court’s guidance, prompting the Trump administration to appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
Friday’s amicus brief opposes the Trump administration’s appeal and supports Watson’s interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling.
“Amici have a strong interest in plaintiffs’ challenge to this executive order because many of its provisions have threatened – indeed, have already caused – substantial harm to our residents, communities, hospitals, universities, and businesses while courts continue to adjudicate the order’s lawfulness,” the attorneys general wrote.
Schneiderman and the other attorneys general from states like Massachusetts, California, Washington state, Vermont and Oregon have consistently and vigorously opposed several of the Trump administration’s policies in general and the travel ban in particular.