U.S. appeals court questions scope of
Trump travel ban
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[August 29, 2017]
By Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on
Monday sharply questioned a lawyer defending President Donald Trump's
effort to broadly enforce a temporary refugee ban that the Republican
president said was necessary for national security.
At a hearing in Seattle, a three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
panel also disputed attempts by Justice Department lawyer Hashim Mooppan
to argue that grandparents and other relatives of Americans from six
Muslim-majority countries should be temporarily barred from travel to
the United States.
The latest round in the fight over Trump's travel ban began after the
U.S. Supreme Court intervened in June to partially revive it. The high
court said the ban could take effect but that people with a "bona fide
relationship" to a U.S. person or entity could not be barred.
The Trump administration interpreted that language to mean the 90-day
travel ban would apply to grandparents and some other family members. It
also sought to block entry of up to 24,000 refugees who have a
connection to a U.S. resettlement agency, for 120 days, arguing that
such a relationship is not close enough to warrant protection from
The state of Hawaii challenged that interpretation, and a judge in
Honolulu ruled against the Trump administration. The Justice Department
appealed to the 9th Circuit.
While that appeal goes forward, the Supreme Court said grandparents and
others could be allowed to enter the United States, but that the refugee
limits would remain in effect.
About two dozen observers filed into a Seattle courtroom for Monday's
hearing, where 9th Circuit Judge Ronald Gould asked how the government
could take the position that a grandmother of a child in the United
States does not count as a close relationship.
[to top of second column]
International travelers (reflected in a closed door) arrive on the
day that U.S. President Donald Trump's limited travel ban, approved
by the U.S. Supreme Court, goes into effect, at Logan Airport in
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
"What universe does that come from?" Gould asked Mooppan.
Another 9th Circuit judge, Richard Paez, questioned why a
relationship between a refugee and a resettlement agency is not
legitimate. The agency has to develop a specific exchange with the
person seeking to move to the country, he noted.
"They're not just some random person out there," Paez said.
Mooppan, a deputy assistant attorney general, said the resettlement
agency has a relationship with the U.S. government, not the refugee
The court did not issue a ruling during the hearing.
The rollout of Trump's current executive order has been more subdued
than in January, when Trump first signed a more expansive version.
That order sparked protests and chaos at airports around the country
and the world.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Dan Levine in
San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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