Hawaii 1st State to Sue Over Trump’s New Travel Ban

(CN) – A federal judge will hear the first lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s revised executive order blocking new visas from six primarily Muslim countries on March 15, just one day before it goes into effect.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson approved an expedited briefing schedule on Wednesday and said the state could file for a temporary restraining order preventing it from being imposed until the lawsuit is resolved.

Hawaii is the first state to challenge the new executive order, unveiled Monday, which suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. It does not apply to green card or valid visa holders.

“President Trump’s new Executive Order is antithetical to Hawaii’s State identity and spirit,” the complaint says. “For many in Hawai‘i, including State officials, the Executive Order conjures up the memory of the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the imposition of martial law and Japanese internment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.”

In a statement shortly after Trump signed the order, state Attorney General Douglas Chin said, “This new executive order is nothing more than Muslim Ban 2.0. Under the pretense of national security, it still targets immigrants and refugees. It leaves the door open for even further restrictions.”

The state claims the order will harm its economy, tourism and universities, as it will no longer be able to enroll students or welcome visitors from the six temporarily banned countries. It says the number of tourists from the Middle East has already dropped, with 278 Middle Eastern visitors in January 2017, compared to 348 in January 2016.

“The Executive Order means that thousands of individuals across the United States and in Hawai‘i who have immediate family members living in the affected countries will now be unable to receive visits from those persons or to be reunited with them in the United States,” the complaint says. “It means that universities, employers, and other institutions throughout the United States and in Hawai‘i will be unable to recruit or to welcome qualified individuals from the six designated countries. It threatens certain non-citizens within the United States and in Hawai‘i with the possibility that they will be unable to travel abroad and return—for instance, because their visa only permits them one entry, or because their visa will have expired during the time the Executive Order is still in place.”

Imam Ismail Elshikh, of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, also joined the lawsuit. The state’s complaint says the order “inflicts a grave injury on Muslims in Hawai‘i, including Dr. Elshikh, his family, and members of his Mosque.”

Elshikh says the order will stop his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting her grandchildren, two of whom she has yet to meet. “The family is devastated,” the complaint says.

A federal judge in Seattle halted Trump’s initial executive order temporarily banning entry of all refugees for 120 days, halting admissions from war-torn Syria indefinitely, and barring entry by citizens of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for three months. The Ninth Circuit refused to reinstate the order.

That lawsuit, filed in February by Washington state, continues in U.S. District Judge James Robart’s courtroom. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he would ask Robart to extend the temporary restraining order in the case to Trump’s revised ban. He also noted that New York and Oregon had joined in the Evergreen State’s action.

In a statement, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the revised executive order “a Muslim ban by another name.”

Back in Hawaii, in a memo included with its motion for a temporary restraining order filed Wednesday the Aloha State made reference to Trump’s earlier order. “Courts across the country swiftly concluded that the thinly veiled Muslim ban was unlikely to pass constitutional muster. And while the President signed a revised version on March 6 — this time in private — we still know exactly what it means. It is another attempt by the Administration to enact a discriminatory ban that goes against the fundamental teachings of our Constitution and our immigration laws.”

The state claims the order violates the U.S. Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In a statement, Chin said, “We all want safety and security in our state. But discrimination against people based on national origin or religion is a very dark path we must never accept. Respectfully, the new order fails to fix the initial defect.”