NEW YORK, NY, July 14, 2017 – Last night, a federal judge in Hawaii ruled that the Trump administration’s interpretation of the Supreme Court order, which partially allowed the travel and refugee ban to go into effect, was too limited. The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at the Urban Justice Center praises Judge Watson’s ruling, which significantly expands the category of “bona fide” relationships that exempt travelers from the ban to include a wider set of family ties, as well as certain relationships with refugee resettlement agencies.

The order came down just a day after the United States hit the refugee cap of 50,000, as decreed by the Trump administration. Opposing the government’s implementation of the Supreme Court order, Judge Watson ruled that an assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency meets the criteria of a “bona fide” relationship, writing: “Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”

“Last night’s ruling represents relief for over 24,000 refugees who had already been vetted and approved by the U.S. and assigned to resettlement agencies. Many of them had already sold all of their belongings to start their new lives in safety,” said Becca Heller, IRAP’ Director. “This decision gives back hope to so many who would otherwise be stranded indefinitely. Nevertheless, we will continue to fight for our refugee clients, who are still affected by the government’s attempts to freeze refugee resettlement.”

Following the Supreme Court order from June 26, the administration established its own narrow guidelines on which relationships would allow travelers to the United States to be exempt from the ban. Under those guidelines, grandparents and aunts and uncles were excluded, among others. In the coming days, IRAP will closely monitor how the government implements last night’s order.

The Supreme Court will hear the case Trump v. IRAP in the upcoming October 2017 term to rule on the Executive Order.

International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center