Minnesota, Washington state seek to block Trump travel ban

Protesters hold signs of the text on the Statue of Liberty.
As many as a thousand people gathered in protest of Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News File

Washington state and Minnesota officials will ask a federal judge on Friday for a nationwide restraining order to immediately stop implementation of portions of President Trump's immigration travel ban.

"Washington has a profound interest in protecting its residents from the harms caused by the irrational discrimination embodied in the order," Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a brief filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Trump issued an executive order last week that prohibits people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from crossing U.S. borders. It sparked protests across the country, including about 3,000 demonstrators at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The White House has argued that Trump's immigration ban will make the country safer.

Washington and Minnesota, which joined the suit Wednesday, want a temporary restraining order while the court considers the lawsuit. A hearing in U.S. District Court is scheduled for Friday afternoon. The states say key sections of Trump's order are illegal and unconstitutional.

"Prior to his election, Donald Trump campaigned on the promise that he would ban Muslims from entering the United States," the complaint said. He continued that anti-Muslim rhetoric after the election and while defending the immigration travel ban, the complaint said. To support that claim, the lawyers attached dozens of exhibits of speeches and statements Trump has made.

"The executive order effectively mandates that the states engage in discrimination based on national origin and/or religion, thereby rescinding the states' historic protection of civil rights and religious freedom," the court filing said.

That's a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the complaint said.

Ferguson said the order is causing significant harm to Washington residents, businesses and its education system. It will reduce state tax revenue and impose significant costs on state agencies, Ferguson said. It also makes it impossible for some state employees and students to travel, he said.

The Washington-based businesses of Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft support the state's efforts to stop the order. They say it's hurting their operations, too.

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