Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin discusses next steps in travel ban lawsuit

A federal judge Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order filed by the State of Hawaii that puts the revised travel ban signed by President Donald Trump on hold.

On Thursday, a second federal judge, this time in Maryland, blocked the 90-day ban on immigration for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, saying that Trump’s statements about his intentions are “highly relevant.”

In a briefing Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the rulings “flawed” and indicated the administration intends to appeal both decisions.

“Currently the Department of Justice is determining the legal strategy and timing,” he said. “We expect action to be taken soon to appeal the ruling in the 4th Circuit and to seek clarification of the order prior to appeal in the 9th Circuit. The danger is real and the law is clear. The president was elected to change our broken immigration system and he will continue to exercise his constitutional authority and presidential responsibility to protect our nation.”

What does the temporary restraining order on President Trump’s travel ban mean? What’s next and how does Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin feel about a possible appeal by the Trump administration?

Chin joined Wake Up 2day to answer those questions.

“My sense is that this isn’t over yet, particularly as the U.S. government is concerned. We’re expecting to see an appeal to the 9th Circuit sometime today or this weekend, and we’ll have to go from there,” Chin told KHON2.

“What happens when you have a document that contains a lot of neutral language, but you have a lot of statements that have been made all the way up until then? Obviously, the U.S. government said, ‘No, let’s just look at the neutral document. Let’s just read the words that are there and not think about anything else.’ But our argument was that context matters. You have to look at all of the statements President Trump has said, starting in 2015 when he used the words Muslim ban, and then 2016, he said it over and over again. (In) 2017, he and his surrogates were talking about how it was very important to get Muslims out of the country. That’s a discrimination against people on religious grounds, and Judge Watson wasn’t going to buy that.”

Chin says the TRO is only good for about seven days. The parties are then asked to put in their briefing schedules so they can go into more extended arguments.

“Really what we expect to happen, just like everything that’s been happening in this case and in Washington as well as other parts of the country, is that we’re going to be going up on some sort of emergency appeal. We always think about court cases as dragging on for years. I think what’s amazing to the public as well as to all of us is how quickly all the litigation moves. We’ve really only been six, seven weeks into President Trump’s administration, and we’ve already had a lot of court cases.”

Chin notes that Thursday’s ruling in Maryland indicates that “this Muslim ban — let’s just say that, I mean it was (Trump’s) words — it really caused a lot of consternation, because I think all of us, in our hearts, whatever religion we belong to or even if we have no religion, we don’t want there to be some sort of discrimination going against anybody, because that could be us the next time, and obviously it’s against the Constitution, so that’s why we’re making this fight.”

The following commentary was provided by the Associated Press:

Why does President Donald Trump keep running into legal trouble with his efforts to freeze immigration by refugees and citizens of some predominantly Muslim nations?

When federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland blocked Trump’s revised travel ban from taking effect, the judges spelled out their major concern: the unusual record of statements by the president and his advisers suggesting the executive order’s real purpose was to discriminate against Muslims, in violation of the Constitution’s ban on officially favoring or disfavoring any religion.

As the legal fight moves into the appeals courts, two key issues will be the extent of the president’s broad immigration powers — and whether Trump’s own record stymies his plans.

Neither U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland nor Judge Derrick Watson bought the administration’s reasoning that the travel ban is about national security.

“The history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the second executive order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban,” Chuang wrote.

Watson criticized what he called the “illogic” of the government’s arguments and cited “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” behind the travel ban. He also noted that while courts should not examine the “veiled psyche” and “secret motives” of government decision-makers, “the remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry.”

“For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release: ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,'” he wrote, referring to a statement Trump issued as a candidate.

But the scope of the rulings differed. In a challenge brought by Hawaii, Watson blocked the federal government from enforcing its ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries and its suspension of the nation’s refugee program. Chuang only blocked the six-nation travel ban, saying it wasn’t clear that the suspension of the refugee program was similarly motivated by religious bias.

Does the president have the authority to enact a ban?

In 1952, with the nation fearful of communist infiltration, Congress gave the president the authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to take action:

“Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may … suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate,” the law says.

That power has been invoked dozens of times. But legal experts say those examples were more limited than what Trump has sought.

Citing a report that reviewed White House administrations going back to Reagan, Chuang noted in his ruling that no president has issued a ban on the entry “of all citizens from more than one country at the same time, much less six nations all at once.”

Chuang found that the travel ban likely violated another aspect of federal immigration law, barring discrimination on the basis of nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas. That law was passed in 1965 as part of an effort to end longstanding immigration quotas that had been criticized as racist.

Ultimately, the cases will come down to the ways in which that law and the Constitution constrain the president’s authority.

“That’s the tug of war that is going to play out and, I suspect, go before the Supreme Court,” said Ted Ruthizer, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “I think it will be a very seminal decision as to what are the limitations on the executive’s powers.”

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