- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2017

A federal judge took another swing at President Trump’s travel ban late Thursday, ruling that the administration must expand the definition of family who are exempted from his policy — and also dramatically expanding the number of refugees who can be admitted.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled that grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins can all show a close enough family relationship that they qualify under the Supreme Court’s ruling last month.

“Grandparents are the epitome of close family members,” the judge wrote.

Judge Watson also said any potential refugee who has been connected to a resettlement agency in the U.S. must be admitted. That widely broadens the potential pool of refugees who can break the 50,000-person cap Mr. Trump had tried to impose.

The ruling was a reversal from earlier this month, when Judge Watson had said it was up to the Supreme Court to answer questions about what the justices meant by close family relationship.

The high court ruled in late June, in a 9-0 decision, that Mr. Trump’s travel ban was legal — but was drawn too broadly, at least for now. The justices said U.S. persons with close family ties to those outside the country have constitutional rights that had to be respected, and in those cases it outweighed Mr. Trump’s security rulings.

The justices didn’t define what those close relationships were, however, inviting a new round of litigation.

Judge Watson, an Obama appointee to the federal bench, has repeatedly ruled against Mr. Trump on the travel ban, including issuing the broadest injunction of any court back in March.

Higher courts have repeatedly reined in his rulings, to varying degrees, and it’s possible they could limit his new injunction, should the Justice Department appeal.

The Supreme Court has said it will revisit the issue more broadly early in October, when the justices return from a three-month summer vacation.

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