Email #232: “epitome of close family”?

When I visited your DC office, I noticed a charming photograph of you holding your infant grandchild. It was the most prominent family picture in the room. And yet according to the Trump administration, you two do not have a “close familial relationship.” Do you agree?

Immigration policy is one of your primary congressional responsibilities, but you have said nothing regarding the Trump administration’s attempt to alter the Supreme Court’s ruling on the President’s travel ban. The Court determined that anyone with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship” to a U.S. citizen, especially a “close familial relationship,” could not be prevented from entering the country from one of the six Muslim-majority countries.

Although family members obviously have bona fide relationships, the administration still tried to bar grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. As a result, Hawaii’s U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson blocked the measure, calling it “the antithesis of common sense” because common sense “dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them.”

Based on the picture frame in your office, the Judge is right. And yet the Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court again, arguing that Judge Watson’s view “empties the Court’s decision of meaning,” because it covers “not just ‘close’ family members, but virtually all family members…. Treating all of these relationships as ‘close familial relationship[s]’ reads the term ‘close’ out of the Court’s decision.”

Do you agree that acknowledging your own relationship to your grandchild empties the President’s travel ban of meaning? The Supreme Court was forced to rule again last week, 6-3, denying the administration’s request to stay Watson’s decision. Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin responded: “we were right to say that the Trump Administration over-reached in trying to unilaterally keep families apart from each other.”

Do you agree with Chin and the Supreme Court? Or do you, like Attorney General Sessions, believe the Justice Department should exclude a range of close family members including grandparents?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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