Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson declined to comment Monday beyond the brief she filed at the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but a spokesman for the Washington state attorney general said Minnesota was an important additional voice to document the harm states have experienced.
"The participation of Minnesota and other states backs up our argument — the states experienced real, tangible harm from this executive order," said spokesman Peter Lavallee. "Our sister states provide compelling evidence that the harm is significant and widespread."
In the amended complaint filed in Washington, Swanson pointed to more than 120 international students and scholars from the University of Minnesota and Macalester College who are worried about reuniting with family or joining study-abroad programs.
She said Mayo Clinic counted 80 staff, physicians and scholars with ties to the affected countries. And she mentioned the 4-year-old Somali girl, Mushkaad Abdi, who was turned away from her airplane in Uganda as she sought to join her mother and sisters in Minnesota.
Also on Monday, the Minnesota branch of the ACLU joined a separate federal lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., over the ban's effect on two Minnesota families who have since been reunited.
"These are very political times we live in," said Teresa Nelson, legal director for the ACLU in Minnesota. "The more stories that we can tell [about] the impact of those executive orders on destroying families … that hopefully will create a groundswell of people demanding change."
Kevin Riach, another Minneapolis attorney involved in the suit, confirmed Monday that Samaneh Raghimi arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from Iran to reunite with her husband, Farshid Zadeh, a legal U.S. resident who lives in the Twin Cities. Zadeh, and a Somali mother and her two young daughters also named in the lawsuit, were allowed to fly to Minnesota after U.S. District Judge James Robart approved a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the ban late Friday.
"It's been kind of a whirlwind week," Riach said. "Being close to the clients affected, something like this brings home the human impact of the executive order on families and individuals."