The Department of Justice has filed a July 3 brief in federal court asserting that the Trump administration's implementation of a travel ban conforms to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The brief comes in response to the state of Hawaii filing a July 29 challenge that the administration's interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling was too broad.
On June 26, the Supreme Court removed a block on President Donald Trump's controversial executive order on travel while the justices await arguments over its constitutionality in October. Trump's executive action prohibits U.S. admittance of refugees for 120 days and restricts travel of citizens from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, The New York Times reports.
The Supreme Court's action still places several restrictions on the Trump administration's enforcement of the executive order, stating that the travel ban "may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."
The justices cited foreign nationals who had family ties in the U.S., attended an American university or worked for a U.S. employer as examples of people who would be exempt from the travel ban, but the court's ruling did not further specify the qualifications for exemption.
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On June 29, the Trump administration implemented the partial travel ban. Its criteria for a bona fide relationship with the U.S. included parents, spouses, fiances and children, but excluded grandparents, grandchildren and extended family.
That same day, the state of Hawaii filed a motion in Honolulu federal court requesting that the Trump administration either clarify the scope of the travel ban or broaden the criteria for bona fide family ties to the U.S.
"A few hours ago, after days of stonewalling plaintiffs' repeated requests for information, the government announced that it intended to violate the Supreme Court's instruction," Hawaii stated in its filing, according to Bloomberg. "It will apply the executive order to exclude a host of aliens with a 'close familial relationship' to U.S. persons, including grandparents and grandchildren ... aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins."
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"Our concern is that when you read their definition of what constitutes a close family relationship, they're cutting out a lot of people," said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin in an official statement.
Hawaii District Court Judge Derrick Watson will hear the case.
On July 3, the DOJ filed a brief stating that the Trump administration's interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling was based on established federal immigration law, Politico reports.
"The Supreme Court's decision construing the Executive Order must also be read as having that touchstone in mind, not the broader, free-hand rules now construed by Plaintiffs," the DOJ brief said.
The state of Hawaii is scheduled to file its own brief on July 6.