The ruling by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu also opens the door for more refugees and deals Trump a fresh courtroom defeat in a long back-and-forth over an executive order that has gone all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state of Hawaii had asked Watson to narrowly interpret a Supreme Court ruling that revived parts of Trump’s March 6 executive order banning travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, as well as refugees for 120 days.
The Supreme Court last month said the ban could take effect, but that anyone from the six countries with a “bona fide relationship” to a U.S. person or entity could not be barred.
The Trump administration then interpreted that opinion to allow spouses, parents, children, fiancés and siblings into the country, but barred grandparents and other family members, in a measure Trump called necessary to prevent attacks.
Watson harshly criticized the government’s definition of close family relations as “the antithesis of common sense” in a ruling that changes the way the ban can now be implemented.
“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members,” he wrote.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.