BOSTON/SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 1: Legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s first moves to restrict the flow of people into the United States spread on Tuesday as Massachusetts and San Francisco sued to challenge two of his early executive orders.
Massachusetts on Tuesday joined the legal battle against Trump’s order banning travel into the United States by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, a move the White House described as necessary to improve national security. A lawsuit contends that the order violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom.
San Francisco sued to challenge a Trump directive to withhold federal money from U.S. cities that have adopted sanctuary policies toward undocumented immigrants, which local officials argue help local police by making those immigrants more willing to report crimes.
The legal maneuvers were the latest acts of defiance against executive orders signed by Trump last week that sparked a wave of protests in major U.S. cities, where thousands of people decried the new president’s actions as discriminatory.
Both policies are in line with campaign promises by Republican businessman-turned-politician Trump, who vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration and to take hard-line steps to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.
“At bottom, what this is about is a violation of the Constitution,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said of the order halting travel by people with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, which also stopped resettlement of refugees for 120 days and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees.
“It discriminates against people because of their religion, it discriminates against people because of their country of origin,” Healey said at a Boston press conference, flanked by leaders from the tech, healthcare and education sectors who said that the order could limit their ability to attract and retain highly educated workers.
Massachusetts will be backing a lawsuit filed over the weekend in Boston federal court by two Iranian men who teach the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. A federal judge blocked the government from expelling those men from the country and halted enforcement of the order for seven days, following similar but more limited moves in four other states.
New York state on Tuesday joined a similar lawsuit filed in its federal courts challenging the ban, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in statement.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit over Trump’s order cutting funds to cities with sanctuary policies, a move that could stop the flow of billions of dollars in aid to major U.S. population centers also including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
“The president’s executive order is not only unconstitutional, it’s un-American,” Herrera said.
Sanctuary cities adopt policies that limit cooperation, such as refusing to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests. Advocates of the policies say that they help local police by making undocumented immigrants more willing to report crimes and serve as witnesses if they do not fear that contact with law enforcement will lead to their deportation.
Both the San Francisco and Boston actions contend that Trump’s orders in question violate the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that powers not granted to the federal government should fall to the states.