A federal judge tossed out one of the remaining challenges to President Trump’s travel ban policy on Wednesday, ruling that the government had the power to refuse visas for people under the affected countries.
Judge Brian M. Cogan also ruled that while there is such a thing as a right to “familial association,” it only applies to people already legally in the U.S., and cannot be used to demand the country let in relatives who aren’t in the country.
The case stemmed from a claim by dozens of Yemeni individuals that they had been promised valid visas to visit the U.S., then saw those offers revoked after Mr. Trump implemented his travel ban.
Their relatives — either U.S. citizens or legal immigrants here in the U.S. — filed a class action lawsuit saying the denial of the visas was a violation of their rights.
The travel ban wasn’t supposed to apply to visas issued before the policy was in effect, but the families argued the government slow-walked their relatives’ visa approvals, leaving them snared in the ban. The families said the Trump administration acted with “animus,” making the delays and revocations illegal.
Judge Cogan rejected those claims, saying there was no firm proof of animus. He also ruled that the people in the U.S. had no fundamental constitutional right to demand relatives be granted permission to enter the U.S.
“In other words, there is not a fundamental liberty right to familial association in this country,” he wrote. “This right exists once family members are lawfully present in the United States. Only then do they have a right against unjustifiable governmental interference in their family affairs.”
Wednesday’s ruling came after the Trump administration did grant visas to some plaintiffs, based on their status before the case and the court’s earlier intervention.
The current version of Mr. Trump’s travel ban policy applies to Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. In same cases there’s a general prohibition on citizens of those countries being admitted on temporary visas, while for other countries the ban only applies to government officials.
The Supreme Court last year upheld the travel ban policy as a valid exercise of Mr. Trump’s powers, but said individual challenges could still be brought over how the ban was being carried out.
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