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Massachusetts AG joins ACLU lawsuit over Trump travel ban

  • MAURA HEALEY MAURA HEALEY

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, center, takes questions from reporters during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Boston. Healey is joining a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts challenging President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. Martin Meehan, president of the University of Massachusetts, stands second from left. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

  • Martin Meehan, president of the University of Massachusetts, center front, faces reporters as Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, left, looks on during a news conference, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Boston. Healey is joining a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts challenging President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, center, listens to Eva Millona, executive director of the Mass. Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, left, during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Boston. Healey is joining a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts challenging President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne



@HughesMorgan_
Friday, February 03, 2017

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Tuesday became one of the first state attorneys general to legally challenge President Donald J. Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Healey, a Democrat, said the order restricting travel into the U.S. by people from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and blocking refugees for 120 days was “harmful, discriminatory and unconstitutional.”

With the backing of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, the commonwealth will join the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts and private immigration lawyers in defending the two original plaintiffs, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth associate professors with green cards from Iran who were detained and questioned over the weekend at Logan International Airport.

“With the wave of a pen, the president’s executive order kept them and thousands of others from coming home,” Healey said.

Baker did not join Healey at a news conference announcing the lawsuit but simultaneously issued a statement that expressed support for the action and a hope that the courts would resolve the dispute quickly.

Healey and other speakers argued that the ban directly violates many First, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, especially the right to equal protection regardless of religion and due process under the law.

Healey cast her action as an effort to protect the international residents of the state, the university system, academics and business leaders.

“(The travel ban) sends the message that some people aren’t wanted,” Healey said. “This executive order threatens the lifeblood that drives Massachusetts forward.”

University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan said there are at least 166 faculty and staff members from the countries affected by the immigration ban, and more than 300 students.

“I am calling on every university president in America to stand up and be heard,” Meehan said.

Early Sunday, two federal judges in Boston granted the ACLU of Massachusetts a temporary injunction against the travel ban from the seven predominantly Muslim nations. Healey said the state would seek to make permanent the injunction and require immigration officials to process and approve renewals of visas and other immigration statuses for those already in the U.S.

Carol Rose, president of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said ACLU lawyers are hopeful they’ll prevail in the fight against the travel ban.

“(The executive action) is especially bad for Massachusetts because of our high-tech and science-based economy,” Rose said. “We need our talent that comes from all over the world.”

Boston University President Robert Brown and several others expressed their support at the press conference.

The international aid group Oxfam also announced Tuesday it was joining the Massachusetts lawsuit, and U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton scheduled a hearing for Friday.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced separately on Tuesday his office is similarly joining a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in that state. On Monday, Washington became the first state to file a legal challenge against the executive order.

The Trump administration maintains the order is necessary to keep potential terrorists out of the country until security procedures are improved.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.