The state of Minnesota is suing the Trump administration over the president's executive order that temporarily bans refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson on Wednesday night joined the attorneys general of Washington state, New York, Virginia and Massachusetts in taking legal action against the ban.
"The executive order that imposes blanket entry restrictions to the United States for people from certain countries is unconstitutional," Swanson said in a statement.
"It does not pass constitutional muster, is inconsistent with our history as a nation, and undermines our national security," Swanson wrote. "America can keep its people safe without sacrificing bedrock constitutional principles."
The suit, with Minnesota and Washington as plaintiffs, names as defendants President Donald Trump, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Acting Secretary of State Tom Shannon and the federal government.
Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said "he's not applauding" Swanson for her decision to sue.
"I'm a supporter of clamping down on immigration, thorough vetting and making our country safe," Cornish said. "I represent outstate, rural Minnesota. The majority of them support Trump and reform of immigration."
In separate but parallel lawsuits, the attorneys general of New York, Virginia and Massachusetts are joining suits filed in their respective federal courts. And at least four U.S. District Court judges have issued rulings to block portions of the executive order.
Earlier in the week, Washington became the first state to file a lawsuit against the administration. The amended complaint, which now includes Minnesota, was filed Wednesday night in U.S. District Court in Seattle. It alleges that the Trump administration's executive order violates the Fifth Amendment's equal protection clause, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as due process. The states also seek a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the travel ban at airports across the U.S.
Large companies, including Amazon and Expedia, provided statements outlining what they view as potential negative economic impacts of the executive order.
The two Minnesota firms with the most globally diverse work forces — Cargill Inc. and 3M Co. — were more guarded in their responses, saying only that they are closely monitoring Trump's travel restrictions for their effects on employees and their work.
"Cargill is working with its travel and security partners to determine what the action means for our employees," the Wayzata-based company said in an e-mailed statement."
Among institutions negatively affected by the ban, the suit lists the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota and Macalester College.
Students from both schools are restricted from traveling outside the country, "since they have no reasonable expectation of being able to return to continue their studies," according to the suit.
The legal challenge comes after travel-ban protests outside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Sunday and a Tuesday night demonstration in downtown Minneapolis that drew at least 5,000.
Minnesota is currently home to more than 30,000 foreign born residents from Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen, according to the lawsuit which cites U.S. Census Bureau data from 2015. By far the largest of those immigrant groups is from Somalia, with more than 25,000 residents living in the state.
John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, was pleased and grateful that Swanson took action. "We think it's the right thing to do and overwhelmingly justified," Keller said.
He contacted Swanson's office a few days ago, urging her to get involved on behalf of Minnesota's large Somali population. Wednesday evening, her office informed him the suit was filed. The order is being done under the guise of national security, he said. But refugees are the most vetted class of immigrants to touch soil in the U.S., Keller said.
"I don't think the public understands the degree to which the legal community believes [Trump] has crossed constitutional line," he said. "Having someone like the attorney general, who I don't think has done anything like this in her tenure, to weigh in should speak to the general public about the gravity of what was done to Minnesota residents."
Karen Zamora • 612-673-4647
Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788