ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
A federal judge in Hawaii says grandparents should be exempt from President Trump's travel ban. An order issued late Thursday greatly expands the list of family relationships that allow visa applicants from six mostly Muslim countries to get into the U.S. The order also allows more refugees in. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the court overreached. He promised to appeal immediately. Joining us now is NPR's Joel Rose. Hi, Joel.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.
SHAPIRO: This is a bit of deja vu. Hasn't this judge blocked the travel ban once before?
ROSE: Yeah, this has been a long and vigorous legal fight. So here let me - here comes a quick recap, OK?
SHAPIRO: All right.
ROSE: Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii blocked the president's revised travel ban back in March, ruling that it likely discriminates against Muslims. The Trump administration appealed. The White House says this executive order is needed to keep terrorists out of the country. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case this fall and to let the executive order take effect immediately but with one key exception. People with a, quote, "bona fide relationship," unquote, to a person or entity in the U.S. should be allowed to come in.
SHAPIRO: And so part of the question here seems to be, what counts as a bona fide relationship?
ROSE: Exactly. The Supreme Court gave some examples but did not really totally spell it out, right? For instance, the court said someone with a close family relationship should be allowed in. The Trump administration defined close pretty narrowly. The definition excluded grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. But advocates for immigrants say that's wrong on the law and also heartless. They went back to the judge in Hawaii, and he agreed that the administration's definition was too narrow. He said that, quote, "grandparents are the epitome of close family members," unquote, in his order.
SHAPIRO: What does this really mean for refugees?
ROSE: For refugees, it's a win. Refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. have been arguing that they have a bona fide relationship with refugees overseas. So they argue that refugees have gone through an extensive vetting process, should be allowed in. But lawyers for the Trump administration disagreed. They argued that the relationship is not bona fide because the resettlement agencies don't actually speak directly to the refugees until they get here to the U.S. Before that, it's the State Department that works with refugees and connects them to the resettlement agencies.
But Judge Watson sided with the refugees and their advocates. He said it's a formal relationship. It's a documented contract. It is binding. Quote, "bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that," unquote. And this matters a lot because this week we reached the cap of 50,000 refugees for the year that the Trump administration imposed. But refugees who can show this bona fide relationship should still be allowed to get in.
SHAPIRO: And tell us more about the reaction from the Trump administration.
ROSE: In a statement, attorney general Jeff Sessions says the judge, quote, "undermined national security." Sessions promised to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sessions said this judge should not be allowed to micromanage the president when it comes to national security. This ought to be the president's call. And of course this case is headed back to the Supreme Court anyway for a hearing in the fall.
SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Joel Rose. Thanks a lot.
ROSE: You're welcome.