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Virginia Joins Federal Lawsuit Challenging President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration

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Attorney General Mark Herring and Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that the state is joining legal action against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

“This is not the United States of America we know,” McAuliffe said.

Herring said the president’s order is “unlawful, unconstitutional and un-American, and action is required.”

Virginia is asking to join a pending case, Aziz v. Trump et al., in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Virginia’s motion to intervene can be read here. Its legal brief can be read here. The original complaint can be read here.

The New York Times reported that Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz, 21, and his brother Ammar, 19, landed at Dulles International Airport on Saturday morning and were connecting to Flint, Mich., to join their father, a U.S. citizen. The Yemeni brothers were taken off the plane, handcuffed and told their visas had been canceled. They were sent on a return flight to Ethiopia, The Times reported.

The two had immigrant visas, meaning they were approved for legal permanent residency, because their father is a U.S. citizen, according to The Times.

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, filed a petition on behalf of them and 60 or so other people detained at the airport. The petition asks for a temporary injunction stopping the effect of the president’s order.

A hearing on the case is expected next week.

Trump’s order banning entry to the United States for individuals from certain countries, even those who are lawful permanent residents or entering the United States on valid work or student visas, is degrading and unlawful treatment, Herring said.

“The commonwealth has substantial interests justifying its intervention, and make no mistake, the commonwealth of Virginia, and our people, are already being harmed by this executive order,” Herring said.

Herring said students and faculty of Virginia colleges are unable to leave and some are unable to return to the United States.

The order will hamper schools’ ability to attract and retain foreign students, prevent students and faculty members from traveling abroad, and may affect research and grant projects and hurt tuition revenue, Herring said.

“This is not theoretical,” Herring said. “It’s happening as we speak.

“We’ve got 100 students at Virginia Commonwealth University unable to leave to see families or come back – and there’s identical stories across all campuses.”

McAuliffe said employers are concerned for employees who are affected.

Brian Coy, a spokesman for the governor, said businesses looking to relocate to Virginia were asking what the state planned to do.

Virginia’s intervention and participation in the suit is being handled by Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael and his team.

McAuliffe and Herring, both Democrats, were at Dulles in Northern Virginia over the weekend to join protests over the immigration ban.

Herring and McAuliffe did not take questions Tuesday because the state’s motion is pending in court, they said.

Trump signed his order Friday, saying it was to protect the U.S. from potential terrorists who could travel to the U.S. while his administration works to strengthen vetting procedures.

It suspended refugee resettlement in the U.S. for 120 days and Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely. It also suspended entry for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – on immigrant or non-immigrant visas for three months.

Herring’s office said it has been working since Friday to try to dissect the order and its implications. The Trump administration has not responded to letters sent by Virginia officials seeking more information on the ban.

Herring said he’s still unclear on the full impact of Trump’s order.

Attorneys general from New York, Washington and Massachusetts have filed lawsuits challenging the order. More than a dozen attorneys general released a joint statement over the weekend denouncing Trump’s actions.


This story originally appeared on PilotOnline.com.

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