New York and Massachusetts joined lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries, adding legal firepower and resources to litigation bound to have national impact.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said separately on Tuesday that they’re joining lawsuits filed in their states by rights groups claiming the president’s Jan. 27 order violates the U.S. Constitution and harms the country’s reputation.
“President Trump’s executive action is unconstitutional, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American,” Schneiderman said in a statement, echoing Healey’s earlier comments. He said Trump’s implementation of the order was “hasty and and irresponsible,” with “families caught in the chaos.”
Also on Tuesday, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to sue Trump over a Jan. 25 executive order threatening funding cuts to so-called sanctuary cities, claiming it violates immigrants’ rights and that the municipality is protected by the 10th amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees state rights.
Trump’s Jan. 27 directive indefinitely suspended U.S. entry Syrian refugees and all other refugee resettlement for 120 days. It also banned entry for 90 days of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Trump has said the move will improve security by preventing potential terrorists from slipping into the country.
Massachusetts joined a lawsuit filed on behalf of detained refugees by the state’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU in Massachusetts, said lawyers are already amending the complaint to add additional plaintiffs. “This executive order is illegal, unconstitutional and unpatriotic. It’s also dangerous,” she said.
Mohamad Ali, chief executive officer of Boston-based Carbonite Inc., also condemned the executive order at the Massachusetts’ press conference, calling it “morally and ethically beneath our America’s values.”
The San Francisco suit alleges the Jan. 25 executive order is a “severe invasion of San Francisco’s sovereignty.” Claims against Trump, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John Kelly and Acting Attorney General Dana Boente boil down to San Francisco’s rights to determine how to handle its population of undocumented residents.
“San Francisco faces the imminent loss of federal funds and impending action if it does not capitulate the president’s demand that it help enforce federal immigration law,” the city said in the complaint filed in San Francisco federal court. “The Executive Branch may not commandeer state and local officials to enforce federal law.”
San Francisco receives more than $1.2 billion in federal funds annually, accounting for 13 percent of the city’s budget. The president’s threat to federal funds is preventing the city from producing a budget for the new fiscal year, according to the filing.
Prices for municipal bonds issued by San Francisco show investors are demanding more to own its debt, a sign of increased risk. City bonds due in 2029 were trading at yields of 0.53 percentage point over benchmark municipal debt, data compiled by Bloomberg show, compared with 0.39 percentage point on Jan. 23.
The latest lawsuits are among a growing number of legal challenges to Trump’s executive orders, including attempts by the state of Washington and several advocacy groups to block the immigration decree.
A central claim in the immigration lawsuits is that Trump’s order discriminates against Muslims based on their religion. In the chaos that has ensued since the order was issued, Trump has maintained that it isn’t a Muslim ban, but rather a ban against specific regions where terrorism is a threat.
Two of the people who were detained at Logan International Airport in Boston because of the order are professors at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, on their way home from an engineering conference abroad, Healey said. “They are training the next generation of Massachusetts engineers,” she said. “But with the waive of a pen, the president’s executive order kept them and thousands of others from coming home.”
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · Erik Larson, Kartikay Mehrotra