PROVIDENCE, RI — Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin invoked the Ocean State’s history of religious tolerance in joining 15 attorneys general who announced the filing of an amicus brief in support of Washington and Minnesota in a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s executive order banning entry to the US of refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
President Donald J. Trump’s Friday executive order suspends all refugees from entry to the country for 120 days, specifically barring Syrian refugees and blocking entry for 90 days to citizens of seven Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
In a 23-page amici curiae brief filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Attorneys General signatories declared: “Although the amici States’ residents, institutions, industries, and economies differ in various ways, we now all stand together in facing concrete, immediate and irreparable harms from the Executive Order.”
“As a colony, Rhode Island was founded on religious tolerance. We were formed by the visionaries and dissidents who were escaping religious persecution. In our earliest years, we became a haven for people of all faiths and beliefs,” said Kilmartin. “President Trump’s Executive Order is in direct conflict with the principles upon which our great state and this great nation was built upon. We cannot allow, our Constitution and our constitutional rights to be trampled on, people to be discarded, or our freedoms to be restricted.”
The amicus brief makes clear that the states have standing to challenge the immigration executive order because of the harm the order inflicts on the states themselves, including:
- State Educational Institutions. The brief details the disruption of faculty staffing, student attendance, and on-going administration at state colleges and universities, as well as additional costs many of these resource-constrained public institutions cannot afford, caused by the immigration order. In particular, it notes the thousands of faculty and students from the seven affected countries who current work or study at Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, California, and Virginia state universities.
- State Medical Institutions. The brief makes clear the similar injuries President Trump’s order causes to state medical institutions and the provision of care, disrupting the matching process at medical schools and impacting medical residents and other physicians, faculty, and researchers who have already been serving. These institutions serve some of the neediest populations, and are now at risk of decreased staffing as a result of the order.
- Diminished Tax Revenues from Students, Tourists, and Business Visitors. The executive order abruptly halted the entry of students, tourists, and other visitors from the affected seven countries – and at the same time stopped the millions of dollars they contribute to the states’ economies. The brief also makes clear that there are longer-term harms to the states’ regional economies as a result of the order, as it hampers the movement of people and ideas into the states.
- Irreparable Harm due to Establishment Clause Violations. As the states have made clear in other filings, the executive order represents an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment – and this “erosion of religious liberties cannot be deterred by awarding damages to the victims of such erosion.”
- Harm to States’ Sovereign and Quasi-Sovereign Interests in Enforcing Their Own Statutes. The executive order also undermines the states’ abilities to enforce their own antidiscrimination laws, ensure the benefits of existing federal laws and regulations – such as the Immigration and National Act – are not denied to individuals arriving in these states, and protect residents, businesses, and communities.
The amicus brief calls for a denial of the federal government’s emergency motion for stay, as it would return the country to the confusion and chaos created by the executive order in its implementation last weekend.
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