Hawaii Sues Trump Administration Over The New Travel Ban

The first legal challenge to travel ban 2.0 is here

Mar 08, 2017 at 12:11 PM ET

Hawaii wants to say “aloha” to the Trump administration’s new version of the travel ban (aloha, in this case, meaning “goodbye” and not “hello”).

President Trump’s first executive order that sought to temporarily ban travelers and refugees from certain countries (and refugees from Syria indefinitely) from entering the country was basically ended by a lawsuit from the states of Washington and Minnesota. Now, the Aloha State is hoping to do the same to the first order’s replacement, presenting the new order with its first legal challenge.

Late Tuesday, Hawaii filed an amended complaint against the Trump administration, claiming, among other things, that it discriminates against Muslims and is overly broad while not addressing the security issues it is supposed to be based on. It also cites the case of one Muslim family of American citizens whose close relative, a Syrian national, was waiting to obtain a visa to visit them in the United States — a process she began in 2015 and which was put on hold a few days after Trump’s first travel ban order was issued.

The complaint uses Trump’s own words to make the case that the travel ban is more about keeping Muslims from certain countries out of America than it is about keeping Americans safe. It references Trump’s campaign website, which still claims that “there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population” in its call for “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country, as well as his repeated insistence that Christian immigrants from those countries needed America’s protection. Though the new version of the ban removed the language about favoring religious minorities that was a factor in the court’s decision to issue a stay on the first order, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did rule that statements about enacting a Muslim ban that Trump and his administration officials made on the campaign trail and in the wake of his election victory and that the original executive order was meant to carry out that goal could also be considered.

Hawaii also notes that the vast majority of immigrants who committed terrorist acts on American soil came from other countries not included in the ban, and the second version of the ban left Iraq off the list even though two Iraqi refugees were convicted of terrorist offenses. Finally, Hawaii says that the new order’s other tweaks intended to avoid the legal challenges of the first order, including language allowing green card and existing visa holders entry into the country, are not enough. Anyone from the six banned countries already in America on a temporary visa — students, for instance — still faces the possibility that their visa will not be renewed, and they will have to leave the country before their studies are complete.

“To be sure, the new executive order covers fewer people than the old one,” Neal Katyal, one Hawaii’s attorneys, told CNN. But he believes it “suffers from the same constitutional and statutory defects.”

Hawaii’s original complaint against the first order was put on hold pending the outcome of Washington and Minnesota’s case. Hawaii is now asking, in a joint motion reported by BuzzFeed, for that hold to be lifted and applied to the new order, and for the court to hear the case before it is scheduled to take effect on March 16. Hawaii is part of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled to uphold a stay on Trump’s first order.