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Ferguson: We saw Trump in court, and we conquered

Attorney General Bob Ferguson at a press conference on Monday, March 6. Credit: John Stang

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson expects to decide in the next few days whether his office will launch a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban.

His staff will do its legal homework, he told a press conference in Seattle just hours after the administration unveiled a new executive order that limits travel from six predominantly Muslim countries.

“I’ve made no decisions about our next step,” said Ferguson, whose lawsuit brought the president’s original travel ban to an ignominious halt in federal court over issues of constitutional and legal issues around religious discrimination and equal protection under the law.

The new order, signed by the president on Monday, will temporarily ban immigration from six Muslim-majority nations. The new ban will go into effect on March 16 and will cover immigrants from Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. It also includes a temporary ban on all refugees, as well as a 120-day ban on refugees from Syria. The Syrian provision was reduced from an indefinite ban under the earlier order.

Reports said the new ban is designed to get around the state’s main legal points, and Ferguson pointed to the changes. “The bottom line is that the president has capitulated on numerous key provisions,” he said.

Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee, who held a separate press conference in Olympia, both raised concerns about what they see as a continuing focus on Muslims in the new executive order. “The new order is not in keeping with the basic core values of our country,” Inslee said. Ferguson was a bit more cautious in his wording, saying that “we still have concern about that intent” to selectively control immigration from predominantly Muslim nations.

Ferguson said his office will again work with Washington colleges, universities and businesses to find out whether they will be harmed by the new executive order. The potential effects on the state were crucial to the legal victories over President Trump in halting the first executive order.

After an appeals court upheld a decision against the president’s first executive order, Trump went on Twitter, saying, “see you in court.” In his press conference, Ferguson said, “The administration since then has avoided seeing anyone in court on the original order. The president was afraid to see us in court because he knew he would lose again.”

The original ban caused chaos at airports nationally, including Sea-Tac. Ferguson criticized the administration’s preparations for the ban as unworthy of even a mayor in any city.

Ferguson said his office is communicating with other attorneys general nationally to coordinate efforts to examine the new ban.

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