Following Donald Trump's draconian executive order banning refugees and residents from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, state governments are acting on behalf of the people of Washington state (population 7 million), Massachusetts (population 7 million), New York (population 20 million), and Virginia (population 8 million) – bringing powerful lawsuits against the overreaching Trump administration.
Donald Trump's executive order, which temporarily banned immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries, and suspended admission of refugees from Syria, sparked immediate and massive protests and action.
The American Civil Liberties Union rushed to sue for an injunction the day following the order, successfully obtaining temporary stays from federal judges on the deportation and detention of refugees and visa holders. And a further ruling in California added to that victory:
Another win- State Dept ordered to restore immigrant visas and allow plaintiffs to travel to LAX. https://t.co/NFwJ9J4zM8
— (((Greg Siskind))) (@gsiskind) February 1, 2017
This appears to be a national order. Big. That means people who got approved for green cards but hadn't entered yet would be able to enter.
— (((Greg Siskind))) (@gsiskind) February 1, 2017
In addition to the ACLU's actions, as well lawsuits from the Committee on American-Islamic Relations and the city of San Francisco, three states have now sued the federal government over the executive order, saying that it violates the constitutional rights of people in the United States and establishes a discriminatory law on the basis of religion.
Washington state was the first to file, with Attorney General Bob Ferguson commenting, "It's my responsibility as attorney general to defend the rule of law, to uphold the Constitution on behalf of the people of this state. And that's what we're doing."
Massachusetts followed closely behind. Attorney General Maura Healey said that her office had conducted an investigation into the order and found the language to be unconstitutional. And she had some choice words for Trump:
The President’s executive order is a threat to our Constitution. Rather than protecting our national security, it stigmatizes those who would lawfully emigrate to our state. With this policy, our global universities, hospitals, businesses and start-ups, and far too many students and residents have been put at risk. On behalf of the Commonwealth, my office is challenging the immigration ban to hold this administration accountable for its un-American, discriminatory, and reckless decision-making.
New York state has also joined the suits, with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman saying he was proud to partner with the ACLU to bring this lawsuit on behalf of the people of New York. More from Schneiderman:
I will continue to do everything in my power to not just fight this executive order, but to protect the families caught in the chaos sown by President Trump's hasty and irresponsible implementation - including pressing [Department of Homeland Security] and [Customs and Border Protection] to provide a full list of those still detained and allow them access to legal service providers.
While protesters take to the streets and airports, and Democrats take to the House and Senate floors, lawyers are taking to the courtrooms. The lawsuits brought by these populous states signal that the Trump camp is going to have a hard fight ahead of them, if they want to circumvent the Constitution in order to wreak untold harm on innocent people.
UPDATE: The state of Virginia is also now suing the Trump administration over the Muslim ban executive order. The Guardian reports:
Later on Tuesday, the state of Virginia became a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed over an incident on Saturday where two Yemeni brothers arrived at Dulles airport from east Africa with residency green cards, planning to join their father in Michigan, but were blocked by agents enforcing the travel ban and put on a flight back the way they had come. The lawsuit seeks to restore the immigration rights of the brothers and up to 60 others whom lawyers say suffered a similar fate at Dulles at the weekend.
But the state’s intervention also has broader aims, claiming the enforcement of the executive order in general is unlawful and threatens the “health and wellbeing, both physical and economic” of its residents, and its public universities and colleges in particular.
“Virginia has a substantial interest in protecting its public universities and their faculty and students from the academic and fiscal disruption posed by the executive order,” according to the state’s motion.
It complains that the order hampers students who are residents or on student visas from continuing to attend Virginia’s public colleges and universities, and will disrupt academics trying to travel for work, resulting in difficulty in attracting talent to the state and “significant loss of tuition revenue to the commonwealth [Virginia]”, the motion, filed in federal court in Alexandria, stated.