Healey sues Trump
AG says president’s executive order violates state, US constitutions
MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL Maura Healey on Tuesday sued President Trump over what she called his “startling and chaotic” executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying the act violated Bay State residents’ constitutional rights.
Healey, joined by some of the state’s academic, business, and non-profit leaders and with the support of Gov. Charlie Baker, said she wants to send a clear message to people in Massachusetts and around the globe looking to come to the state but worried about the fallout from the order.
“I want them to know Massachusetts has their back,” she said. “No executive order, no president is more powerful than their rights as Americans and no more powerful than our Constitution.”
Baker, who had been measured in his responses to Trump’s actions, did not attend Healey’s press conference but issued a statement saying her lawsuit has his unequivocal backing.
On Friday, Trump announced his 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as well as a suspension of the refugee resettlement program for at least 120 days. In his order and in interviews, Trump said when the ban is lifted, Christians would have preference over Muslims, a view that many, including Healey, said made the order unconstitutional.
During the presidential campaign, Trump made a ban on Muslims a centerpiece of his pitch to voters, promising to restrict immigration from countries identified as harboring terrorists and terrorist organizations. Since the order was issued, both he and his aides insisted it was properly vetted by Justice Department lawyers and is identical to one issued by then-President Barack Obama in 2011 instituting a six-month pause on visas and immigration applications from the same countries.
The executive order caught many travelers off-guard and enforcement created chaos at the nation’s airports as some federal agents were unsure who to let in and who to deny. Many legal immigrants with valid green cards and visas who work, teach, or go to school in the country were barred from reentering, causing immigrant advocates to seek emergency restraining orders keeping the ban from going into place.
Among those suits was a successful effort filed late Saturday night by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court in Boston that put a temporary restraining order on enforcing the ban pursuant to the executive order. A hearing on making the restraining order permanent is slated for Friday. Healey, representing the University of Massachusetts as well as the Commonwealth, is seeking to join that suit as a plaintiff. The ACLU also announced that OXFAM America, the global nonprofit based in Boston that works to end hunger and poverty in many underdeveloped countries, would be a plaintiff in the suit.
At the press conference, Michael E. Sroczynski, vice president of the Massachusetts Health & Hospitals Association, said a number of doctors and researchers in the state’s hospitals are from outside the country and, though many have been in the state for years, they are fearful of the impact not only on them but their families abroad. Sroczynski said the ban could have a chilling effect on advances in health and science in the state, calling Massachusetts a “medical Mecca.”
“I use that term with great pride,” said Sroczynski, acknowledging the intentional selection of the phrase to show support for Muslims.
Martin Meehan, president of the University of Massachusetts, where two professors from the Dartmouth campus had been detained Saturday prompting the suit, said students and professors come to the Bay State because of the quality of education available. He said the ban would have a chilling effect in classrooms and research labs.
Also joining Healey was Mohamad Ali, CEO of Boston-based Carbonite, an online data back-up and storage service. Ali, who said he was speaking not only as a business owner but also as a representative of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, ticked off the names of corporate leaders with immigrant backgrounds, such as the late Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, whose father was a Syrian national. Ali said the contributions by such corporate giants would never have been made had this ban been in effect in other times. He also noted several Republican US senators said there is a danger in discriminating against Muslims because it could lead terrorist organizations to use it as a recruiting tool.“This is playing right into the rhetoric of those who are bent on harming us,” said Ali. “It is simply a violation of that revered document we as Americans, and citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, hold dear, the Constitution. No one is above the Constitution.”
While Healey framed the suit in legal and constitutional terms, most of those who joined her at the press conference in denouncing the ban had supported Democrats Hillary Clinton or US Sen. Bernie Sanders or had given to other Democrats in previous elections, according to records from the Federal Election Commission.