Ninth Circuit Issues Ruling to Allow Partial Enforcement of Trump’s Travel Ban

Protestors at JFK Airport in January / Getty Images


A panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a brief order Monday that allows President Donald Trump’s third travel ban to partially take effect.

Trump’s travel ban places a hold on travelers attempting to enter the United States from eight countries deemed unable to vet travelers, and the Ninth Circuit ruled the government could proceed with the ban for people who lack "a bona fide relationship" with someone in the United States, the Washington Post reports. U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii mostly blocked the measure in October, but the Ninth Circuit's decision partially granted the government’s motion for an emergency stay of Watson's decision.

Only "foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" will be able to travel from the affected countries, according to the new ruling. The judges listed family relations to U.S. residents, including brothers- and sisters-in-law, grandparents, and cousins, as examples of "bona fide" relationships.

The countries under the travel ban are Venezuela, Libya, Chad, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea, but Watson's ruling blocked the ban in cases from all eight countries except Venezuela and North Korea. Watson originally wrote that the executive branch did not have the authority to enforce the travel ban because it "plainly discriminated based on nationality."

The Ninth Circuit granted the emergency stay, but it still has not given a full ruling, and oral arguments on the case begin next month. For the travel ban to take full effect, the government will have to win both in the Ninth Circuit, as well as the Fourth Circuit, which is the appeals court for a case in Maryland that also partially blocked the ban.

The Ninth and Fourth Circuits both ruled against a previous version of the ban, and the Supreme Court vacated both decisions in October, meaning they cannot be used as precedent. Watson had relied on that precedent in his ruling on the most recent version of the ban.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, who had filed suit against the government for the ban, acknowledged that the Ninth Circuit tracked Supreme Court guidance. He also praised the decision to allow family members to travel to the United States.

"Today’s decision today closely tracks guidance previously issued by the Supreme Court. I’m pleased that family ties to the U. S., including grandparents, will be respected," Chin said.

Many critics and protesters have regarded Trump's measure, implemented through executive order, as a "Muslim ban," since many of the countries impacted are predominately Muslim. The Trump administration has argued that the countries were included based on their ability and willingness to vet travelers.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is the deputy war room director at the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at

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