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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 3, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 05
Washington AG sues to block Trump immigration ban
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Washington AG sues to block Trump immigration ban

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit on January 30 seeking to block Donald Trump's immigration ban.

In addition to Trump, the suit names other high-ranking federal officials and the Department of Homeland Security as defendants.

Ferguson also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to halt implementation of Trump's executive order immediately and nationwide.

The attorney general asked the court to schedule a hearing on his suit within 14 days.

Ferguson charges that the executive order barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the US Constitution and the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion. Trump's order also contravenes the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, the lawsuit says.

Local mega-corporations Amazon and Expedia joined the lawsuit because of potential economic damage resulting from the exclusion of immigrants.

The executive order, issued January 27, affects Washington state by 'separating Washington families, harming thousands of Washington residents, damaging Washington's economy, hurting Washington-based companies, and undermining Washington's sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees,' Ferguson's filing says.

Gov. Jay Inslee joined Ferguson in announcing the lawsuit.

'Never has our system of checks and balances been more important,' Inslee said at the January 30 press conference.

'Washington is filing the first suit of its kind in the nation, thanks to the good work of Attorney General Ferguson and his team. I would not be surprised to see more. Until Congress takes this administration to task for the obvious moral and legal injuries suffered by innocent, law-abiding people entering our country, it is up to states to protect and promote the rights of the people who reside in our borders.'

Inslee used a phrase familiar to 'Star Trek' fans to call for confrontation with the Trump administration.

'Resistance is not futile,' he said. 'It is productive.'

Ferguson offered 'special thanks' to the ACLU of Washington, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the National Immigration Law Center for their 'extensive work' on immigration rights issues.

Other lawsuits
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also filed a lawsuit against what it calls the 'Muslim Exclusion Order' on behalf of a group of Muslim-Americans and unnamed citizens of nations covered by the ban currently residing in the United States.

The ACLU, which won a temporary injunction against Trump's order, allowing the release of individuals detained at US airports, may also file its own lawsuit.

Common to all the lawsuits and potential suits is the argument that Trump's executive action violates the Fifth and 14th Amendment guarantees of 'due process of the law' by denying entry to individuals who have valid visas.

In his order, Trump cited a 1952 immigration law that allows the president to suspend entry 'of all aliens or any class of aliens' into the US if he thinks it would be 'detrimental to the interests of the United States.'

However, a 1965 amendment to the law says individuals cannot be 'discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa' because of their 'race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.'

David J. Beir, an immigration policy analyst at the conservative Cato Institute, says that this language means discriminating against immigrants based on where they are from - whether it's Iraq, Sudan, or Canada - is illegal.

'Mr. Trump may want to revive discrimination based on national origin by asserting a distinction between 'the issuance of a visa' and the 'entry' of the immigrant,' he writes. 'But this is nonsense. Immigrants cannot legally be issued a visa if they are barred from entry.'

International law
Trump may also be in trouble when it comes to international law. The United States has treaty obligations around immigration and treatment of refugees, and the US Constitution gives these treaties equal status as 'the supreme law of the land.'

During a phone call with Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded him that his immigration ban may contravene the country's international commitments.

'The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds,' Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert wrote in a statement. 'All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.'

So far, no lawsuits have been brought challenging the order on these grounds. Nevertheless, the US Supreme Court does have the power to strike down a law or presidential action if it is contrary to US obligations under international treaties.

Some Supreme Court justices have also said that international consensus may influence their interpretation of US law and constitutional principles, although this view is unpopular in conservative legal circles.

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