Attorney general: Hawaii first to challenge revised travel ban

When KHON2 sat down with Attorney General Doug Chin Wednesday evening, he said Hawaii was the first state to challenge a revised travel ban signed by President Donald Trump.

Now, more states are following Hawaii’s lead.

Chin said the state of Hawaii filed Wednesday a motion for a temporary restraining order in its federal lawsuit against Trump, following the new executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations issued earlier this week.

Washington state announced its intent to take the president to court, and Massachussets, New York and Oregon also plan on joining that suit.

The U.S. Department of Justice has until Monday to respond to the state’s lawsuit. The two sides will meet in court on March 15, just one day before the ban is set to begin.

“Wednesday, we’ll make our arguments,” Chin said. “There is no guarantee that the judge will rule at that time. That’s entirely up to the court.”

Chin told us representing the people of Hawaii is still his top priority. However, he also said it would be disrespectful to the state’s history if his office stayed silent on this issue.

Chin says the revised order “still has the same nation-of-origin discrimination problems it had before.” He noted that “there’s also a lot of memories that people (in Hawaii) have of nation-of-origin discrimination, including Japanese internment camps, so we really felt like we needed to challenge this order.”

We learned the state has budgeted $150,000 to fight this latest executive order, but that number could increase.

“I have to disclose, I would have the ability to amend that contract and to raise the cap if we ever get to that point,” Chin said.

“We will be working with the attorney general to manage the costs and to figure out what’s the best way for it,” said Gov. David Ige.

Chin told KHON2 he doesn’t want the country to repeat mistakes from the past, and Ige agrees.

“Through this lawsuit, I’ve met members of the Muslim community here and I can tell you they are amazing people,” Chin said. “We have a population that counts and we should speak for them in ways that people did not speak for the Japanese in the 1940s.”

“This is a fundamental value that I think it’s important for Hawaii to take a stand,” Ige said.

Chin said the lawsuit isn’t just about standing up to discrimination, but keeping checks and balances as well as preserving Hawaii’s tourism.

“There’s already reports saying due to these executive orders, the travel ban, you know, people are less inclined to travel to the United States,” he said. “The reason why that argument is strong is because it’s such a big part of our economy.”

We asked Chin if his office is prepared for possible backlash.

“The AG’s office has Twitter and certainly we are not going do that,” he said. “This issue is just too important. This is not the type of issue where we can just say, ‘Well, we’ll just let him have his way.'”

View the documents: Second amended complaint | Motion for TRO | Memo in support

The filings ask the court to declare that sections 2 and 6 of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order signed by President Trump are contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States. The complaint asks for a nationwide injunction preventing the implementation of these sections of the Executive Order.

The Executive Order restricts immigration from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen. It suspends all refugee admission for 120 days. It is scheduled to become effective on March 16, 2017.

“What’s significant about that is that’s actually before the order is supposed to take effect, so on both sides it’s ‘Let’s get a chance to litigate this before it goes into effect,’ and then that way we avoid the chaos of, do we not have an injunction, you know, a lot of those issues,” Chin said. “We would love it if the president could come up with an order that protects our borders, that protects our national security in a way that doesn’t discriminate against people based upon their nation of origin or their religion. That’s just unconstitutional.”

In the filings, Hawaii argues the following:

“[W]hile the President signed a revised version on March 6 . . . 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, even if it is cloaked in ostensibly neutral terms. Strikingly, the Executive Order even admits that these changes were designed to ‘avoid * * * litigation.’

Nothing of substance has changed: There is the same blanket ban on entry from Muslim-majority countries (minus one), the same sweeping shutdown of refugee admissions (absent one exception), and the same lawless warren of exceptions and waivers. The courts did not tolerate the Administration’s last attempt to hoodwink the judiciary, and they should not countenance this one.”

The second amended complaint alleges the following causes of action:

  • Defendants have violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
  • Defendants have violated the equal protection, substantive due process, and procedural due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment.
  • Sections 2 and 6 of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order violate the Immigration and Nationality Act by discriminating on the basis of nationality, ignoring and modifying the statutory criteria for determining terrorism-related inadmissibility, and exceeding the President’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • Defendants have violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion.
  • Defendants have violated the substantive and procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Hawaii previously filed a lawsuit against the federal government, but it was put on hold when the courts blocked the first travel ban.

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