Joins Federal Case Challenging Ban on Immigration from Seven Predominantly Muslim Countries; Executive Order Violates Federal Law, Due Process and Equal Protection
For Immediate Release - January 31, 2017
BOSTON – Speaking up for the citizens, academic institutions and businesses in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey today announced that her office is joining a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration that bans individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The complaint and motion to intervene, being filed today in U.S. District Court, will make AG Healey one of the first state attorneys general to challenge the Executive Order. The AG’s Office will seek to join a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Massachusetts and private immigration lawyers on Saturday on behalf of two associate professors from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth who were detained at Logan Airport. The AG’s intervention today comes on behalf of the Commonwealth as well as the University of Massachusetts.
“Harm to our institutions, our citizens, and our businesses is harm to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” AG Healey said. “The President’s executive order is a threat to our Constitution. Rather than protecting our national security, it stigmatizes those who would lawfully emigrate to our state. With this policy, our global universities, hospitals, businesses and start-ups, and far too many students and residents have been put at risk. On behalf of the Commonwealth, my office is challenging the immigration ban to hold this administration accountable for its un-American, discriminatory, and reckless decision-making.”
On Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump signed the Executive Order, citing the threat of terrorism committed by foreign nationals. But the AG’s Office argues that order is motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia, not by a desire to further national security.
After being concerned by detentions at Logan Airport in Boston as well as other airports across the country over the weekend, the AG’s Office worked with advocates to provide immediate assistance for any affected individuals, employers and communities. By Sunday morning, a federal judge issued an order temporarily halting detentions. The AG’s complaint today seeks to prohibit the barring or removing of any individuals from the United States pursuant to the Executive Order, as well as to require the immigration authorities to continue to process and approve renewals of visas and other statuses for people already present in the United States, many of them residents and valued employees in Massachusetts.
The lawsuit claims that the Executive Order violates federal law and calls on it to be declared unconstitutional – for taking the rights away from lawful residents as well as other visa holders without due process. According to the AG’s Office, the order discriminates against people on the basis of their country of origin and religion, without sufficient justification, and therefore violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.
Additionally, according to the complaint, the Executive Order violates the due process guarantee of the Fifth Amendment, violates the Establishment Clause by preferring Christian immigrants over those who are Muslim, violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act, and infringes on Massachusetts’s sovereign authority in violation of the Tenth Amendment.
The AG’s complaint argues that the Executive Order represents a stark and troubling departure from this nation’s founding principles, discourages or prevents both travel and emigration to the Commonwealth, and would hinder a free exchange of information, ideas, and talents, including at Massachusetts’ many renowned educational institutions.
Massachusetts is home to thousands of residents from countries affected by the Executive Order, and in 2015 alone, accepted nearly 900 new refugees and asylees from these countries. Massachusetts is also home to hundreds, if not thousands, of small and large businesses, non-profit organizations, public and private hospitals, and colleges and universities that collectively employ and enroll individuals from the affected countries and rely on their expertise, skill, labor, and other contributions to society.
Today’s matter is being handled by State Solicitor Bessie Dewar, Genevieve Nadeau, Chief of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, and Jonathan Miller, Chief of AG Healey’s Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, with assistance from Robin Toone, Chief of AG Healey’s Government Bureau, and Bill Porter, Chief of AG Healey’s Administrative Law Division.
STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker
“Massachusetts is a global community and we all benefit from the shared experiences of our partners from around the world to support our economy and educational institutions to make our state the best place to live, work and raise a family. The recent executive order puts this at risk, will not improve our security, and the lack of guidance associated with such an abrupt and overwhelming decision is problematic for all involved. Our administration has worked with the Attorney General’s office and supports her challenging this action. We look forward to the courts resolving this matter expeditiously.”
Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg
“I stand in total solidarity with Attorney General Maura Healey as she works to defend the people of Massachusetts, and the country, against these unconscionable attacks on our fundamental rights. Attorney General Maura Healey has my full support.”
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo
"President Trump’s executive order threatens the American way of life, our national security and our economic vitality. Further, it is a cruel abuse of power. I stand with the Attorney General against this discriminatory action."
Senator Elizabeth Warren
“President Trump’s illegal executive order strikes at the very heart of our democracy. Today’s lawsuit sends a loud, clear message that if President Trump won’t respect American values and defend the U.S. Constitution, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will.”
Senator Ed Markey
"I support Maura Healey and all the Attorneys General who will be challenging the un-American, unlawful, and unconstitutional Executive Order in court. When the President overreaches, as he has done with this Muslim ban, it is the province of the courts to say so. Donald Trump’s Muslim ban has caused chaos at airports, anxiety in our business and academic communities, and desperation in families separated from their loved ones, and we cannot let this illegal policy stand.”
Congressman Michael Capuano
“I applaud AG Healey for challenging President Trump’s callous and legally questionable Executive Orders on immigration and refugees. He may be the President but that does not make him or his Administration above the law. I stand with the Attorney General and the many constituents who contacted my office opposing the President’s actions. I will do everything I can in Congress to reverse these directives.”
Congresswoman Katherine Clark
“Trump’s executive order is not just inconsistent with our values as a Commonwealth, it flies in the face of the Constitution and recklessly provokes fear and uncertainty among our neighbors. Attorney General Healey has my full throated support in protecting Massachusetts families from this unconstitutional travel ban.”
Congressman Bill Keating
“As a former District Attorney, I have significant concerns about the constitutionality of the Trump Administration’s travel ban from seven predominately Muslim countries. This weekend, we saw the chaotic implementation of this ill-conceived order when the original plaintiffs – two professors from UMass Dartmouth in my district who are legal residents – were improperly detained. As an American and like many citizens, I oppose all attempts to discriminate based on religion. America is both stronger and truer to its beliefs by rejecting the Trump administration's ban. I am confident the court will see this order for what it is and justice will prevail.”
Congressman Seth Moulton
"President Trump’s executive order undermines our fundamental American values of liberty and justice under the law. And on top of that, it makes us less safe. I’m proud that Attorney General Healey is leading the effort in Massachusetts to challenge Trump’s unconstitutional and reprehensible ban.”
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas
“Massachusetts has a long, proud tradition of embracing diversity and welcoming immigrants from across the globe. President Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban is not only an affront to our core values, but could have serious consequences for our economy, world standing and national security. I thank Attorney General Healey for taking this important step as we come together and stand with resolve against these dangerous and distinctly un-American actions.”
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh
“Massachusetts has a history of leading by example when it comes to protecting the civil liberties and rights of our people, and we've shown time and time again that we will stand up for what's right. I applaud Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for joining the lawsuit to challenge President Trump's harmful executive orders."
Martin Meehan, President, University of Massachusetts
“Over the last 72 hours, the UMass community of 100,000 current students, faculty and staff and 500,000 alumni has expressed to me in overwhelming numbers their opposition to this executive order,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “I have spoken with those who have been directly affected, with our faculty experts in security and foreign policy, with our attorneys and with leaders from across our five campuses. I have heard from countless students, alumni and friends. The UMass community firmly believes that this executive order is destructive to our interests and to our mission, which is why I support this complaint seeking to protect the economic, educational and cultural interests of the university and the Commonwealth as a whole.”
Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts
“The ACLU welcomes Attorney General Healey and OXFAM America in our challenge to President Trump’s illegal, unconstitutional, and dangerous executive order. Their participation highlights the importance of this case to the lives of people throughout Massachusetts, the nation, and the world. We welcome all freedom-loving people to join efforts to defend our democracy, and to ensure liberty and justice for all.”
Robert Brown, President, Boston University
“The administration’s executive order is fundamentally inconsistent with the values that are the bedrock of higher education, and indeed, of our pluralistic, welcoming society. Immigrants and international students bring intellectual range and vitality to our classrooms and our laboratories. They are essential to our mission. As an academic community, we must band together to affirm our principles and shared values while seeking to undo the actions which are at odds with those values.”
Lynn Nicholas, President & CEO, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association
“MHA strongly supports the actions of Attorney General Healey on behalf of the Commonwealth to challenge the Trump administration’s misguided executive order on immigration. Our hospital and healthcare community in particular is a global one, made up of individuals of many nationalities. The sudden and disruptive action to deny entry to clinicians and caregivers travelling for business or personal reasons is particularly chilling and deeply distressing to the medical community which cares every day for people without regard to nationality, religion or ethnicity. MHA stands firmly and proudly behind this action to protect the state’s healthcare community and the patients they serve.”
Eva Millona, Executive Director, MIRA Coalition
“We are proud to stand with our Attorney General and our committed friends at the ACLU and the entire legal community as we make history in this great Commonwealth. Our country cannot turn its back on refugees. The suspension of America’s refugee programs for 180 days and indefinite suspension Syrian refugees is an insult to our country’s values and an attack on some of the most vulnerable populations in the world fleeing violence and terror. Here in Massachusetts, we don't just talk. We stand up, we organize, we litigate, and we march. MIRA, our members, and our allies are committed to advancing and strengthening the movement that protects our people, our values and our Constitution.”
Raymond Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
“As a Boston-based global organization with a diverse workforce operating in more than 90 countries around the world, including five of the seven countries affected by the Executive Order, we are joining this lawsuit because our ability to continue to carry out our lifesaving work around the globe and in some of the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crises is severely jeopardized. Oxfam is proud to stand with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the ACLU of Massachusetts as plaintiffs in this case.”
Tom Hopcroft, CEO, MassTLC
“We’re pleased that the Commonwealth is taking this action to support the tech sector in Massachusetts where a quarter of our workforce is foreign born. More than any other state, we have a history of welcoming researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and tech workers from all corners of the globe, and it is this diversity that drives our year-over-year ranking as the nation’s top innovation state. A better US immigration policy would prioritize humanitarian concerns and high demand talent needs regardless of race, religion, or national origin, and base restrictions on substantive factors such as actual dangerousness.”
Robert W. Iuliano, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Deputy to the President of Harvard University
“We applaud the work of the attorney general and others to highlight the impacts of this executive order on higher education and to bring them to the attention of the court. We are deeply concerned about the implications last week's executive order will have for higher education here in Massachusetts and across the country. It is by bringing people together from around the nation and around the globe that American higher education has advanced scholarship, innovation and scientific discovery. The disruption caused by this executive order threatens the ability of colleges and universities to serve this critical function.”