Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan has joined a court challenge to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries and temporarily suspending the United States’ refugee program.
Trump issued the new order on March 6 after his original travel ban was struck down by a federal appeals court a month earlier. Trump had initially vowed to fight on but eventually decided to drop the case and prepare a substitute ban.
The state of Hawaii was the first to file suit against the revised executive order, which was tailored to survive expected legal challenges.
On Monday, Donovan and nine other state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of Hawaii’s suit. “Vermont has a tradition of standing up against discrimination and I believe this is an appropriate role for us to play,” Donovan said.
Hawaii’s case leans heavily on economic issues — asserting that the ban would have an adverse effect on businesses and public universities, and would particularly damage Hawaii’s robust tourism industry. Donovan echoed that argument.
“The economic harm to the states is the flaw in this, in terms of precluding a certain group of folks from coming into this country,” Donovan asserted. “And when you look at some of these larger states, in the tech industry and public universities, this is an important case to litigate.”
Donovan acknowledged that Travel Ban 2.0 was crafted to withstand a legal challenge, but he says it shares the fundamental flaws of its predecessor.
“I’m not saying that the argument that carried the day in the first case no longer applies. We think it does,” he said. “There is obviously the fact that the countries banned are predominantly Muslim countries.
“We all want national security. But to ban folks from certain countries isn’t the way to achieve it.”
The new ban is due to take effect on Thursday. Hawaii is seeking a temporary restraining order blocking its enforcement. A federal judge in Hawaii is scheduled to hear the state’s motion on Wednesday.