A federal district court in Hawaii ruled that the definition of close family applied by the administration of President Donald Trump in allowing exemptions to the ban on allowing US entry for residents of six Muslim-majority countries is too narrow.
The government had excluded grandparents, aunts and uncles, among other categories of family member.
"Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," US District Judge Derrick Watson found, ruling on a challenge to the ban brought by the state of Hawaii, Efe reported.
"Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The government's definition excludes them. That simply cannot be," the judge wrote.
Last month, the US Supreme Court set aside injunctions issued by federal appellate courts and said that portions of Trump's March 6 executive order could take effect.
That document barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and excluded all refugees for 120 days.
In allowing the order to take effect, the Supreme Court said that the restrictions could not be applied to people with "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the United States.
Under the Trump administration guidelines, spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, fiances and siblings of those already in the country can be admitted. But grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law are excluded.
Besides expanding the definition of close family, Watson said that the government could not prohibit entry by refugees assured of placement in the United States by recognized refugee agencies.
The judge said that such assurances constituted a bona fide relationship with a US entity.
Watson rejected plaintiffs' request to provide blanket protection for all Central American minor refugees who have family already living in the US.
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