State AG holds firm against travel ban

HALEY DONWERTH | Evergreen reporter

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The state attorney general spoke at WSU yesterday about his legal action against President Donald Trump’s administration, saying revisions to the ban that halted travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries in late January are not good enough.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit on Monday, Jan. 30, following the executive order’s signing on Friday, Jan. 27. As part of that lawsuit, Asif Chaudhry, WSU’s vice president for international programs, submitted a declaration in which he explained the immediate harm the travel ban would cause the university.

He stated there were 136 students from those seven countries who were directly affected by the ban, and that these students would be limited in their ability to travel in and out of the U.S. to conduct research and studies. The executive order would also affect major university initiatives regarding diversity and international student programs, Chaudhry stated.

“The cumulative effects of these restrictions will have a significant impact on WSU,” he stated in his declaration.

Ferguson said Washington was the first state to take legal action against the travel ban because he and his team anticipated the executive order, and they were willing to take a calculated risk against it.

“Our team was prepared for that,” he said.

A federal judge from Western Washington first halted the travel ban a week after Trump signed the executive order. Ferguson said the decision Judge James Robart made was a great moment, and the impact of the halt was immediate.

Tens of thousands of visas were reinstated and visa holders, green card holders and dual citizens were able to enter the country again following Robart’s ruling.

It is unusual for a federal judge to issue their decision from the bench, Ferguson said, but judges have been handling the travel ban quickly, realizing the importance of what is at stake.

Ferguson said he was shocked there was so little thought put into how the executive order.

“On such a deeply personal level, people’s lives are being totally upended,” he said.

Trump’s administration issued a revised version of the executive order on, Mar. 6 set to go into effect Mar. 16. Ferguson and his team are filing legal action against the revised travel ban, because while it contains significant changes, he said it is not enough.

“The number of people adversely impacted is undoubtedly smaller,” Ferguson said, “but if you’re violating the constitutional rights of one person, you’re still violating the Constitution.”

Ferguson said the language is still the same as it was in the first order, so it remains unconstitutional.

The revised order no longer targets green card or visa holders, dual citizens or religious minorities, he said, and Iraq was removed from the list of banned countries. Syrian refugees, before banned indefinitely, are now treated like the other countries on the ban list.

Ferguson said he and his team plan on bolstering their case by searching for government documents that support their lawsuit, such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s recommendation to Trump on how to execute the ban legally.

“We, in our view, are allowed to look behind the four corners of [the] document,” Ferguson said.

He said they would be looking into the revised executive order to determine whether the motivation behind it is based on race, because then it would be unconstitutional.

The reason Ferguson and his team are suing the administration has nothing to do with the president’s travel ban, he said, but about how it is being implemented.

“I may not agree with his policy,” Ferguson said, “but his job is to do it legally.”

It’s the president’s job to keep the country safe legally and constitutionally, he said, and it’s Ferguson’s job to hold him to that standard.

“I do not take lightly suing any president,” Ferguson said.