HONOLULU (CN) – The state of Hawaii asked a federal judge on Tuesday to temporarily block President Donald Trump from implementing the most recent version of his travel ban.
Calling the latest executive order a “direct descendant” of the first two, Hawaii and its co-plaintiffs say Trump’s third effort openly discriminates on the basis of nationality, usurps congressional authority to set immigration policy, and makes good on “the president’s unrepudiated promise to exclude Muslims from the United States” – violating the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
According to the plaintiffs, the new travel ban “still fails, despite its elaborate rationalizations, to make any ‘finding’ remotely adequate to support its sweeping ban of millions of foreign nationals.”
Issued just two weeks before the Supreme Court planned to hear arguments on its predecessors, the executive order titled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public Safety Threats” bans entry into the United States by travelers from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, and substitutes Chad for Sudan.
The order also prohibits all non-immigrant visas Syrian nationals, bars all non-immigrant visas except student and exchange visas for Iranian nationals, and prohibits business and tourist visas for nationals of Libya, Yemen, and Chad.
In addition to the six predominantly Muslim countries, the order prohibits a small group of Venezuelan government officials from entering the United States, as well as all entry from North Korea – which sent fewer than 100 mostly diplomatic citizens to the United States last year.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Neal Katyal, called the tweaks in the third travel ban “almost entirely symbolic.”
“The president has fulfilled his promise to issue a ‘larger, tougher, and more specific’ version of the travel ban,” the plaintiffs said. “It should come as little surprise, then, that the new order replicates all the legal flaws evident in its precursor.”
Hawaii says the third version of the travel ban will cause the same injuries to its educational institutions, tourism industry and its sovereign rights. The University of Hawaii has 20 students from the eight designated countries, and has already received five new graduate student applications from those countries for 2018. Tourism from target countries to Hawaii is down 44 percent, the plaintiffs say.
The Aloha State says the third travel ban also takes away its sovereign right to implement policies against religious discrimination as well as discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, sex, gender identity of expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry or disability as enshrined in Hawaii public policy.
Three individual plaintiffs have family in targeted countries currently planning travel to Hawaii. Ismail Elshikh is an American citizen of Egyptian descent whose mother-in-law recently became the focus of legal wrangling over the definition of “close family” in Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court decisions that upheld a federal judge’s decision in the plaintiffs’ favor.
Two Doe plaintiffs added to an amended complaint remain anonymous for safety reasons.
The Muslim Association of Hawaii, a mosque with members from Syria, Somalia, Iran, Yemen and Libya say it expects a decline in membership as a result of the travel ban.
Hawaii and the other plaintiffs want U.S. District Judge Derek Watson – who previously ruled largely in plaintiffs’ favor on the second travel ban, the Trump administration’s challenge of an injunction, and on remand from the Supreme Court with a definition of family – to enact a nationwide block of the ban, which is scheduled to take effect Oct. 17.
The Trump administration has until Saturday to respond to Hawaii’s motion.