State AG wants travel ban halted even with new executive order

By: KIRO 7 News Staff

Updated:

SEATTLE - Washington state’s attorney general wants a federal judge to block President Donald Trump's revised travel ban. 

President Trump signed a reworked version of his controversial travel ban Monday, aiming to withstand court challenges led by Washington State while still barring new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and temporarily shutting down America's refugee program.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson successfully sued to stop implementation of the original order. Now, Ferguson is asking the federal judge who halted Trump’s first travel ban to extend his temporary restraining order to Trump's revised order.

Ferguson said that the new executive order contains many legal weaknesses as the initial ban. The attorney general said his team is not filing a new lawsuit, but they will file a motion before the court by the end of Thursday.


Here are key developments:

  • The president's revised travel order leaves Iraq off the list of banned countries but still affects would-be visitors and immigrants from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.
  • The low-key rollout was in contrast to the first version of the order, which Trump signed a week after his inauguration in a high-profile ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes as Secretary of Defense James Mattis stood by.
  • The first travel ban included travelers from Iran; chaos unfolded at airports as people were detained. 
  • Ferguson’s lawsuit on the first travel and asked a court to declare key provisions of the executive order unconstitutional and illegal.
  • Federal judge James Robart in Seattle halted the ban nationwide in February after Ferguson filed a lawsuit.
  • After arguments from the Washington State Attorney General's Office and the Department of Justice, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Robart's ruling to keep the travel ban blocked.  
  • After the 9th Circuit decision, the Trump announced that his administration would roll out a new executive order on immigration.
  • The president signed the new order on Monday; it will go into effect on March. 16. Read the full order here. 
  • Ferguson said Monday he was reviewing the new order to determine if legal action is needed.
  • Hawaii was the first state to file a lawsuit against Trump's revised travel ban, saying the order will harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students. 
  • Ferguson's motion on Thursday will ask Robart that his restraining order remains in place. Scroll down to read more. 

Below you can find an expansive questions-and-answers section on the revised travel ban and Ferguson's motion.  

What happened in the rollout with the first executive order?  

President Trump’s first executive order was signed on Jan. 27.

It barred any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States. The president established a 120-day ban on refugees, and a 90-day ban on visitors from 7 predominately Muslim countries thought to be a security risk to the United States.

>> Trump's first immigration ban: What to know

The original travel ban caused chaos at airports around the country as Homeland Security officials scrambled to interpret how it was to be implemented and travelers were detained before being sent back overseas or blocked from getting on airplanes abroad.

The order quickly became the subject of several legal challenges.

How was it stopped?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a complaint just days after the executive order was signed.

Ferguson asked the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to declare key provisions of the executive order unconstitutional and illegal. Ferguson also filed a motion for temporary restraining order seeking an immediate halt to the executive order’s implementation in the state and nationwide.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart of Seattle temporarily halted Trump's travel ban as he considered the lawsuit. He did this by granting the aforementioned temporary restraining order. 

The Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit for the ban to be temporarily reinstated. But after arguments from the the Washington State Attorney General's Office and the Department of Justice, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Robart's ruling to keep the travel ban blocked. See a timeline of events below. 

What does the new order include?

Trump officials say that even with the changes, the goal of the new order hasn't changed: keeping would-be terrorists out of the United States while the government reviews the vetting system for refugees and visa applicants from certain parts of the world.

 

 

The revised order is narrower and specifies that a 90-day ban on people from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen does not apply to those who already have valid visas.

According to the fact sheet, the Department of Homeland Security will conduct a country-by-country review of the information the six targeted nations provide to the U.S. for visa and immigration decisions. Those countries will then have 50 days to comply with U.S. government requests to update or improve that information.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Congress and others have been briefed about the order, which won't take effect until March 16, and there should be no surprises. He called the effort "prospective" and reiterated that it applies only to refugees who aren't already on their way to the United States and people seeking new visas.

Why is the Washington state attorney general taking action?

About an hour after Trump's signing on Monday, Ferguson released a statement saying he and his team were “carefully reviewing” the new order to “determine its impacts on Washington state and our next legal steps.”

Ferguson said on Thursday that his team is not filing a new lawsuit, but they will file a motion before the federal court in Seattle by the end of Thursday. That motion will ask Judge Robart to extend his temporary restraining order against the first ban to Trump's revised order. 

The attorney general's team believes that the new executive order still contains constitutional problems that causes unconstitutional harm to Washington citizens. 

He outline two key provisions that his teams believe are still subject to Robart’s temporary restraining order. Here’s how he explained those provisions.   

“The ban on refugees, that of course was also in the original order, virtually identical language in place for the revised order. Our view is the restraining order, the injection applies equally, to the ban on refugees coming into the United States,” Ferguson said.

“What’s now six nation ban rather that a seven nation ban on travel to the United States. Again, with the exception of removing Iraq from that list of countries that language is virtually identical as the original order,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said these reasons allow his team to assert that the president can’t unilaterally free himself of the restraining order that halted his initial ban. 

“There are still constitutional problems with core provisions of this revised executive order,” Ferguson said. “The president does not get to decide if a new executive order is different enough, to be clear from that underlining injection. The court decides this.”

Oregon and New York state are joining Washington state’s litigation, Ferguson said. 

Washington state's action comes a day after Hawaii launched its own lawsuit. Hawaii's complaint says it is suing to protect its residents, businesses and schools, as well as its "sovereignty against illegal actions of President Donald J. Trump and the federal government."
 
White House spokesman Sean Spicer says the administration is confident the revised U.S. travel ban will stand up to legal scrutiny. 

What specifically is under the new order different? 

The Washington Attorney General's Office released this comparison. 

Lawful Permanent Residents (“Green Card” Holders)

  • Original order: Restricted the international travel of about 500,000 current Green Card holders who are citizens of the seven targeted countries. Conflicting guidance from the Administration regarding Green Card holders contributed to widespread confusion in the days following the order’s issuance
  • Revised orderDeleted.

Dual Citizens

  • Original order: The Trump Administration initially said that dual citizens — those who hold a passport from one of the seven countries and either a U.S. passport or a passport from another non-banned country — were not permitted to enter the United States for 90 days. Again, shifting Administration guidance contributed to the chaos.
  • Revised orderDeleted.

Visa Holders

  • Original order: Halted, for 90 days, U.S. entry by citizens of the targeted countries with valid visas to visit the U.S. Tens of thousands of previously issued visas were revoked.
  • Revised orderDeleted.

Syrian Refugees

  • Original order: Suspended entry of refugees from Syria indefinitely.
  • Revised order: Syrian refugees treated like those from other countries. Following a 120-day moratorium, refugees may be admitted to the U.S. following standard vetting process.

Religious Minorities

  • Original order: Prioritized religious-persecution claims by refugees only for minority religions in countries of origin (i.e., non-Muslims in the targeted countries).
  • Revised order: Does not explicitly prioritize refugees based on religion.

Affected Countries

  • Original order: Applied to travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
  • Revised order: No longer includes Iraq.

Effective Date

  • Original order: Went into effect immediately, causing widespread chaos and confusion at airports around the world.
  • Revised order: Takes effect March 16, 2017.

Why was Iran dropped?

The White House dropped Iraq from the list of targeted countries following pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which noted Iraq's role in fighting the Islamic State group. An Iraqi spokesman said the change marks a "positive step" and shows the countries have a "real partnership."

Syrians are also no longer subjected to an indefinite ban, despite Trump's insistence as a candidate that Syrians posed a serious security threat.

Why does the Trump administration believe we need this order?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions that national security is the driving force behind the ban and pointed to the cases of 300 people he said entered the United States as refugees who are now being investigated by the FBI as part of terrorism-related cases. He provided no details.

A senior Justice Department official earlier in the day cited the same statistic to reporters in a background call. The official refused repeated requests to provide any details about those cases, including the nationalities of the 300, or to say how long they have been in the United States.

The new order does not address concerns raised in a Homeland Security intelligence analysis obtained last month by The Associated Press that concluded there was insufficient evidence that citizens of the originally banned countries posed a terror threat to the U.S. The administration has played down the significance of that report.

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