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BOSTON/SAN FRANCISCO Legal challenges to
President Donald Trump’s first moves to restrict the flow of
people into the United States spread on Tuesday as Massachusetts
and San Francisco sued to challenge two of his early executive
San Francisco became the first U.S. city to sue to challenge
a Trump directive to withhold federal money from U.S. cities
that have adopted sanctuary policies toward undocumented
immigrants, which local officials argue help local police by
making those immigrants more willing to report crimes.
Massachusetts joined the legal battle against Trump’s order
banning travel into the United States by citizens of seven
Muslim-majority countries, a move the White House described as
necessary to improve national security. A lawsuit contends that
the order violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of
The legal maneuvers were the latest acts of defiance against
executive orders signed by Trump last week that sparked a wave
of protests in major U.S. cities, where thousands of people
decried the new president’s actions as discriminatory.
Both policies are in line with campaign promises by
Republican businessman-turned-politician Trump, who vowed to
build a wall on the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration
and to take hard-line steps to prevent terrorist attacks in the
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit over
Trump’s order cutting funds to cities with sanctuary policies, a
move that could stop the flow of billions of dollars in aid to
major U.S. population centers also including New York, Los
Angeles and Chicago.
“If allowed to be implemented this executive order would
make our communities less safe. It would make our residents less
prosperous, and it would split families apart,” Herrera said.
Sanctuary cities adopt policies that limit cooperation, such
as refusing to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement detainer requests. Advocates of the policies say
that, beyond helping police with crime reporting, they make
undocumented immigrants more willing to serve as witnesses if
they do not fear that contact with law enforcement will lead to
Both the San Francisco and Massachusetts actions contend
that Trump’s orders in question violate the 10th Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution, which states that powers not granted to
the federal government should fall to the states.
Michael Hethmon, senior counsel with the conservative
Immigration Reform Law Institute in Washington, called the San
Francisco lawsuit a “silly political gesture,” noting that prior
federal court decisions make clear that the U.S. government “can
prohibit a policy that essentially impedes legitimate federal
Massachusetts contended the restrictions on U.S. entry by
citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries run afoul of the
establishment clause of the 1st Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution, which prohibits religious preference.
“At bottom, what this is about is a violation of the
Constitution,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said
of the order halting travel by people with passports from Iran,
Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. The
order also barred resettlement of refugees for 120 days and
indefinitely banned Syrian refugees.
“It discriminates against people because of their religion,
it discriminates against people because of their country of
origin,” Healey said at a Boston press conference, flanked by
leaders from the tech, healthcare and education sectors who said
that the order could limit their ability to attract and retain
highly educated workers.
Massachusetts will be backing a lawsuit filed over the
weekend in Boston federal court by two Iranian men who teach the
University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. A federal judge
blocked the government from expelling those men from the country
and halted enforcement of the order for seven days, following
similar but more limited moves in four other states.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, like Trump a
Republican, said he supported the lawsuit, calling the executive
order “an abrupt and overwhelming decision.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday said
the state was joining a similar lawsuit filed in its federal
courts challenging the ban.
In Colorado, a Libyan national who attends the Community
College of Denver filed a separate federal lawsuit on Tuesday
seeking to have a judge issue an injunction barring the
executive order from being enforced. (Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg, Curtis Skinner and
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