Thursday’s court ruling against President Donald Trump’s travel ban sparked jubilation in Minnesotans who had opposed it and dismay among the beleaguered executive order’s supporters.
“Excellent — yea!” was the initial reaction of Teresa Nelson, legal director of the ACLU of Minnesota. “We have been hearing from so many people whose families were torn apart while the executive order was in operation.”
She added, “This is going to be a long, drawn-out fight. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. At least for the time being, families can be reunited and safe in traveling to the United States on their valid visas.”
JaNaé Bates, communications director of the faith-based coalition ISAIAH, said her group was “ecstatic” about the ruling.
“We’re happy there are people out there still doing the right thing,” she said. “Regardless of what name is on the masthead, the Constitution holds true, and no one is above that.”
Deepinder Singh Mayell of the Center for New Americans at the University of Minnesota called the ruling “a sigh of relief for thousands of people affected by the travel ban and their families.”
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, whose office had joined Washington state in suing over Trump’s order, said that “a more deliberate approach by the administration could have avoided this litigation.”
“The Executive Order was haphazard in its approach and rollout; not properly vetted by the Congress or the federal Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, or Defense; and created needless chaos for children, families, students, physicians, businesses, and travelers,” Swanson wrote in a prepared statement. “It should be further noted that the White House has not identified to the court any detainee who posed a risk to national security.”
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said Trump’s order “slammed our doors shut on innocent people — refugees, immigrants, and even students, tourists and families trying to visit their loved ones who live here.”
“It’s disgraceful, and it’s not who we are as a nation,” he wrote in a statement. “I am encouraged by the appeals court’s decision that questions the constitutionality of this terrible order, but recognize that this will not be the final say on this matter — though I hope it is soon struck down for good.”
‘I’m very disappointed’
Among the Minnesotans who have expressed support for Trump’s approach, there was dismay.
“I’m very disappointed, to be honest with you, but I knew it was going to go this way,” said Ron Branstner, a public speaker who has sharply criticized immigration policy in the United States during many Minnesota presentations. Branstner said he has been disappointed by earlier decisions by the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court in San Francisco.
“This is a continual thing with them, and I just don’t believe they stick to the rule of law,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Kathleen Virnig, a St. Cloud woman and former Catholic bookstore owner who helped sponsor a public talk last year warning of the dangers she says are associated with Islam.
“I think it’s incredible that they think they can just walk all over the president of the United states and just forget that there is a need for the protection of people,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are very concerned.”
Virnig said she listened in as the three-judge panel heard oral arguments Tuesday and felt that the judge’s questions were political in nature. “I could hear it in some of the things they were asking,” she said. “I was shocked.”
Judges typically play devil’s advocates in such hearings, grilling attorneys on both sides.
‘A wretched measure’
Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and the top resettlement official in President Obama’s administration, didn’t spare any sympathy for Trump:
“The ban is a wretched measure that is an example of fact-free policymaking,” he said. “Because it takes aim at a phantom problem, nobody should be concerned that the decision is going to put Americans at risk. It seems to be very appropriate to suspend the ban while the courts can make a considered judgment on this ridiculous measure.”
Schwartz added, “The notion that the actions of the president of the United States are not reviewable — that doesn’t pass any sniff test, let alone a constitutional test.”
The decision brought relief to a St. Paul attorney who’s been coordinating shifts of volunteer lawyers at the airport to help arriving refugees and visa holders.
“I like that it’s a unanimous decision,” said the attorney, Kara Lynum. “They really didn’t buy any of the Department of Justice’s arguments.”
The 29-page decision talked broadly about immigrants being denied their due process, and it seemed to show that the judges had serious concerns about religious discrimination claims as well, she said.
Lynum said she and the 200 to 250 attorneys volunteering at the airport will continue to help out as needed.
Staff writer Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.