Four U.S. states have now sued the Trump administration over its executive order blocking entry for refugees, visitors, and green card holders from majority-Muslim countries—a ban that a group of United Nations human rights experts says breaches "international humanitarian and human rights laws."
Washington state was the first to make the move, announcing its own legal action on Monday. Its complaint argues that the order "violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of Equal Protection and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, infringes individuals' constitutional right to Due Process, and contravenes the federal Immigration and Nationality Act," a press statement from Attorney General Bob Ferguson states.
Ferguson added at a press conference: "If [the lawsuit is] successful it would have the effect of invalidating the president's unlawful action nationwide."
"The President's executive order is a threat to our Constitution," declared Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. "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."
"No one is above the law—not even the President," said AG Ferguson. "And in the courtroom, it is not the loudest voice that prevails. It's the Constitution."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared his backing of his state's suit, saying at a press conference Monday: "Until Congress takes this administration to task for the obvious moral and legal injuries suffered by innocent, law-abiding people entering our country, it is up to states to protect and promote the rights of the people who reside in our borders."
Reuters notes that
[m]ultiple foreign nationals have also filed lawsuits challenging the ban. They included one filed in Colorado on Tuesday by a Libyan college student and two filed in Chicago, including one on behalf of an Iranian father of three children all living in Illinois.
The new lawsuits came the same day as United Nations chief Antonio Guterres warned that countries' border management "cannot be based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality" as that runs counter to "fundamental principles," is likely ineffective, and "triggers widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organizations we all want to fight against."
Though Guterres' statement doesn't name Trump specifically, a statement released Wednesday by a group of UN experts does, and also warns that his order could subject those barred from entry to torture.
"Such an order is clearly discriminatory based on one's nationality and leads to increased stigmatization of Muslim communities," said the UN Special Rapporteurs on migrants, François Crépeau; on racism, Mutuma Ruteere; on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson; on torture, Nils Melzer; and on freedom of religion, Ahmed Shaheed.
"The U.S. recent policy on immigration also risks people being returned, without proper individual assessments and asylum procedures, to places in which they risk being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in direct contravention of international humanitarian and human rights laws which uphold the principle of non-refoulement," they warned.