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Hawaiʻi Files Federal Lawsuit Against Trump for Immigration Order

Posted February 3, 2017, 01:18 PM HST Updated February 4, 2017, 09:02 AM HST
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Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. October 29, 2016. PC: Gage Skidmore

The state of Hawaiʻi has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump in Hawaiʻi federal court for his executive order on immigration, according to an announcement today by Hawaiʻi Attorney General Doug Chin.

The lawsuit asks the court to block implementation of the Jan. 27, 2017 Executive Order signed by President Trump that restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen. It also suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order also grants entry preferences to minority religions. Atty Gen. Chin said the order is “the beginning of the fulfillment of President Trump’s campaign pledge to implement a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.'”

Atty Gen Chin said, “What makes our country special and a beacon across the world is its inclusive democracy and the rule of law. Everyone in the United States, including the President, must follow the law and follow the Constitution.”

The complaint alleges several causes of action:

The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it favors one religion over another in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment;
The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it denies equal protection of the law on the basis of national origin;
The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it curtails the right to travel without any legal justification;
The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it deprives individuals of their liberty interests without due process of law; and
The Executive Order is illegal because it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Hawaiʻi’s papers filed today asked the court to block the order across the country. As the state’s memo argues:

Hawaiʻi joins the many voices that have condemned the Order. But this pleading is not about politics or rhetoric—it is about the law. The simple fact is that the Order is unlawful. By banning Muslims and creating a preference for Christian refugees, the Order violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. By those same acts, it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment. By failing utterly to provide procedures or protections of any kind for people detained or turned away at our airports, it violates the Due Process Clause. And by enshrining rank discrimination on the basis of nationality and religion, it flies in the face of statutes enacted by Congress.

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Hawaiʻi has asked for a hearing on its motion for a temporary restraining order in no more than 14 days.

Attorney General Chin added, “Hawaiʻi is an island state. This illegal order affects our state in a unique way. Under this order, an Iraqi permanent resident on the mainland US cannot leave the country without the risk of never being allowed to return, but he still can travel throughout the continental United States. That same person here cannot so much as visit another island within our state for fear of being detained by federal agents at the airport. In the past, the people of this state experienced discrimination by the federal government based on national origin. We must speak up and not let this happen again.”

Assisting the state of Hawaʻi in the litigation is Neal Kumar Katyal, Esq., former Acting Solicitor General of the United States during the Obama Administration. He is currently a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm Hogan Lovells, and a law professor at Georgetown University.

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