Ours is a country of immigrants. For decades the U.S. has welcomed refugees and immigrants from the world’s troubled places. Donald Trump has actively threatened that fundamental American value.
That is why we applaud steps taken Monday by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to challenge Trump’s mean-spirited executive order as unconstitutional. The order, issued late Friday with little vetting, placed a temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations and an indefinite ban on those from Syria.
The action created instant chaos at U.S. airports, and Trump’s insistence that he needed to do this to block terrorists from entering the country does not stand up to scrutiny.
The outpouring of outrage against this hasty action, which could affect 90,000 immigrants, was immediate. Many saw the ban as a crude religious test for immigrants, which violates U.S. values. Many Christian leaders — whose faith Trump wants to accord special treatment — spoke out against the policy.
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More Republicans in Congress need to step up with those who have spoken out. Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham both criticized the action and in a statement said they worry it “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.” The lawmakers also noted reports that Trump acted with “little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.”
Initially, the order barred even those with green cards who were returning to U.S. soil or who had aided U.S. troops in Iraq, and it threatened new arrivals with deportations. Acting as a check against these potentially unconstitutional actions, a Brooklyn judge on Saturday temporarily halted the deportations of travelers held at airports. The new director of the Department of Homeland Security wisely reversed part of Trump’s temporary ban on Sunday, allowing travelers holding green cards to enter.
Many of our state’s leaders, including Ferguson, Gov. Jay Inslee, Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib and Democrats in our congressional delegation, have spoken out forcefully against the president’s stirring of passions against immigrants.
Though Trump argues that immigrants need “extreme vetting,” it’s not clear that vetting by agencies under President Obama was inadequate. Terror attacks carried out on U.S. soil since September 2001 have been by radicalized Americans.
Local governments were already preparing to resist Trump’s worst impulses last year. The Olympia City Council declared itself a sanctuary city in December. Mayor Cheryl Selby reiterated last week that Olympia will hold to that position if Trump’s administration tries to cut federal funds for city housing and other programs.
Under the resolution, Olympia won’t use its resources to aid federal immigration enforcement and will refuse state or federal requests for information about a person’s immigration status.
There are legal reasons to doubt whether Trump can impose enforcement duties on cities without a corresponding order from the state.
It is time to stand firmly against reckless and unlawful actions the new president may take.