Washington state says it will ask a federal judge to block US President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban targeting citizens of six Muslim-majority countries and refugees, a day after Hawaii challenged the executive order.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose state was the first to sue over Trump’s initial travel ban that created chaos worldwide and was eventually blocked, said at least three other states are expected to join the new legal battle.
Ferguson, the top prosecutor in Washington state, said on Thursday that the motion by his office calls on an existing injunction against the travel ban issued in January to be applied to the new directive.
“We’re asserting that the president cannot unilaterally declare himself free of the court’s restraining order and injunction,” Ferguson told reporters.
“It’s our view that the temporary restraining order that we’ve already obtained remains in effect.”
The revised executive order issued on Monday bars new visas for people from Syria, Iran, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen, and temporarily shuts down the US refugee programme for 120 days. It does not apply to travellers who already have visas.
Ferguson said that although the revised order was narrower in scope, it could still be challenged on constitutional grounds.
The attorney general in Hawaii also argued late on Wednesday that while the new order features changes to address complaints raised by courts that blocked the first travel ban, the new order is pretty much the same as the first one.
The Pacific state is seeking a nationwide restraining order blocking implementation of the new order.
“Nothing of substance has changed: There is the same blanket ban on entry from Muslim-majority countries (minus one),” state attorney general Doug Chin said in a statement.
“The courts did not tolerate the administration’s last attempt to hoodwink the judiciary, and they should not countenance this one,” Chin wrote.
Hawaii’s lawsuit says the order will harm Hawaii’s Muslim population, tourism and foreign students.
The state’s complaint says it is suing to protect its residents, businesses and schools, as well as its “sovereignty against illegal actions of President Donald J Trump and the federal government”.
A federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order halting the initial ban after Washington state and Minnesota sued. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the order.
University of Richmond Law School professor Carl Tobias said Hawaii’s complaint seemed in many ways similar to Washington’s successful lawsuit, but whether it would prompt a similar result was tough to say.
Given that the new executive order spells out more of a national security rationale than the old one and allows for some travellers from the six nations to be admitted on a case-by-case basis, it will be harder to show that the new order is intended to discriminate against Muslims, Tobias said.
“The administration’s cleaned it up, but whether they have cleaned it up enough I don’t know,” he said. “It may be harder to convince a judge there’s religious animus here.”
Tobias also said it is good that Hawaii’s lawsuit includes an individual plaintiff, considering that some legal scholars have questioned whether the states themselves have standing to challenge the ban.
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Source: News agencies