Washington is expected to become the first state in more than a dozen to file a lawsuit attempting to block President Donald Trump’s executive orders placing a temporary halt on travel from seven countries with active jihadist uprisings.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Monday he will file suit as early as Monday evening. Up to 15 states in all are considering similar suits alleging pain and suffering for businesses, families and individuals as a result of Trump’s travel ban.
The backlash comes despite clear historical precedent for presidential orders blocking travel from any country posing a national security threat.
President Jimmy Carter took action against Iranian immigrants in the wake of the 1979 Iranian revolution and hostage crisis. President George W. Bush restricted refugees from certain Muslim countries after the 9/11 attacks. President Barack Obama halted for six months all refugee resettlement from Iraq following the discovery that at least two al-Qaida terrorists had slipped into the refugee ranks and were resettled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, from where they were sending material support and aid back to al-Qaida in Iraq.
None of the above actions by Presidents Carter, Bush or Obama drew any criticism from the political establishment or media.
But Trump’s action has spurred a virtual revolt by media, corporate titans, religious leaders, Hollywood actors and even sports figures such as Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who called Trump’s actions “scary,” comparing them to the Japanese internment camps of World War II and encouraging his players to “speak out” against Trump.
The city of Columbus, Ohio, which experienced two terrorist attacks by Muslim refugees in 2016 – a machete attack that wounded four at the Nazareth Mediterranean Restaurant in February and a knife attack by a Somali refugee at Ohio State University on Nov. 28 that wounded 11 – was apparently not fazed by these events. The mayor announced Monday the city plans to create a legal defense fund for refugees and illegals, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
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Some GOP congressmen were also starting to bail on the president. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., sent out a press release Monday bashing Trump’s executive order. It read in part:
“Unfortunately, the president’s executive order is overly broad and its interpretation has been inconsistent and confused. This has led to unintended consequences, like the barring of legal permanent residents and the rejection of Syrian Christians at the airport, a religious minority that was supposed to be protected by the executive order.
“Keeping America First means keeping our principles first – both compassion and security. To remain the world’s shining city on a hill and beacon of hope to many, we should have our arms open to those who are fleeing oppression and seeking safety, not turning them away at the door.”
Despite the torrid backlash, a Rasmussen Poll released Monday showed most Americans back President Trump’s temporary travel bans.
Undaunted, the left has rallied its troops in support of the refugees and visa holders who would be affected, calling Trump’s orders a “Muslim ban” that amounts to “fear mongering” and applying a “defacto religious test” for entry into the U.S. Many others, such as Van Gundy and actor George Takei, compared Trump’s executive order to the internment of Japanese Americans in detention camps during World War II, despite the obvious difference that the Japanese Americans were already in the U.S. and living there as citizens, not foreigners seeking to visit on a visa or be resettled as refugees.
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Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller appeared on “Fox & Friends” Monday to defend his boss’ executive order.
“The United States has a sovereign right to decide who enters its borders,” Miller said, adding that this is part of the president’s most important constitutional duty of protecting national security. If it had been done earlier, he argued, there might not have been a 9/11 terrorist attack.
Watch Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, offer a spirited defense Monday of the president’s executive order temporarily shutting down travel and refugee resettlement.
With Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia not on Trump’s list, the “Muslim ban” argument doesn’t appear to square with the facts.
But that isn’t stopping the state of Washington from moving forward with a lawsuit claiming it will be “irreparably harmed” by the temporary ban on travel from seven countries. Several other left-leaning states are expected to follow suit with similar lawsuits.
These lawsuits will be difficult to litigate, said a constitutional expert, because it will be hard to show evidence that a temporary travel ban on seven nations harms an entire state.
Nick Oberheiden, a constitutional attorney and author with a juris doctorate from UCLA, said Trump’s executive order should hold up in court, even if some of the details need to be tweaked. The administration has already clarified that green-card holders flying into the U.S. from abroad should not be subject to the temporary ban.
“The U.S. Constitution does not apply to the entire world,” he said. “The French constitution doesn’t apply to us here, and it is sometimes bewildering to see how all these intellectual stretches are made to get to a destination that is flawed. I think if I had to predict and guess, it is something that will come up in the nomination hearings for the new Supreme Court justice.”
Oberheiden said he believes the White House, in its rush to get the order approved, used some imprecise language in the executive order that required clarification over the weekend.
“It will be partly tweaked, I would expect, by the White House. But overall, it is within the executive powers of the president to take this action and with improvements to that executive order it will be more water tight,” he said. “There is a pending lawsuit from the state of Washington that is expected to be filed tonight, asking for an emergency stay of the order.”
He said this lawsuit’s request for a stay, if granted, has the potential to be a “game changer” against Trump’s order, effectively ending implementation nationwide until the matter is resolved at the appellate level.
“That decision by a federal judge would have a nationwide impact on the entirety of this executive order, typically a few days after it is filed, and then it’s all up to the lawyers to convince the federal judge and court of appeals in that part of the country to either affirm the stay or lift the stay,” Oberheiden said.
This type of lawsuit filed by a state attorney general has the potential to be far more impactful than an individual suit.
“And there are 15 states that are considering doing this or something similar, but as far as I can tell right now it’s only the state of Washington that claims it will be irreparably harmed if this order stays in place,” Oberheiden said.
“That’s obviously a very important and difficult fact question as to how you prove damages and irreparable harm,” he added. “It’s easier for an individual to say that but what is the damage and state of harm for the state of Washington?”
Dr. Zudi Jasser, a Muslim and a leading advocate of reform within Islam, told Fox News: “We have to have a strategy on how to keep the country safe. And that’s only going to happen when we have a countering violent Islamist strategy instead of a countering violent extremism strategy.”
Robert Spencer, author of the Jihad Watch blog for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, said the left is taking its game to a new level of “hysteria” in an effort to disrupt and obstruct the agenda on which Trump campaigned and is now attempting to implement in fulfilling of his promises.
“President Trump’s executive orders on the Mexican border and the temporary ban on immigration from seven countries that are hotbeds of jihad terror have the left in an uproar that increases in hysteria by the minute, proving once again that the left will be satisfied with national suicide and national suicide only – not anything less,” Spencer writes.
“What has the left so enraged is a simple declaration of an intention to protect and defend the United States. Trump’s executive order states that it is designed ‘to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.’ How dare he! It adds: ‘The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.'”
“It’s racism!” the Nation charged in an article entitled, “How to Fight Trump’s Racist Immigration Policies.”
Bigotry! The Detroit Free Press editorialized: “Immigrant, refugee ban reflects fear, bigotry.”
Islamophobia! Vox informed Americans that “Trump says his refugee ban is about protecting America. It’s really about Islamophobia.”