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How Washington state's attorney general challenged Trump's travel ban

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration. The suit alleges the Executive Order is harming Washington residents and damaging the state's economy.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna
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Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration. The suit alleges the Executive Order is harming Washington residents and damaging the state's economy.

Washington state is the first in the nation to challenge President Trump’s travel ban. Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a federal lawsuit, saying major portions of the executive order are unconstitutional.  

In the state’s complaint filed Monday, Ferguson says the administration’s policy discriminates based on country of origin and religion. 

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“It violates the rule of law,” Ferguson said. “It’s the responsibility of our office to hold everyone to the rule of law and it does not matter if you happen to be the president of the United States.”

But there’s more than a constitutional question on the line. In its complaint, the state argues that immigration is an important economic driver here. 

“The person who files the action has to have a dog in the fight; the dog has to be involved in the lawsuit,” said Hugh Spitzer, professor at University of Washington School of Law.

In its complaint, the state says the travel ban is harming Washington residents and businesses.  “They’re making a very strong argument based on the economic wellbeing of their citizens and the taxpayers,” Spitzer said. “I think that’s a key part of it. That’s why they included these declarations from major companies in Washington state.”

Companies like Expedia and Amazon have provided declarations describing how the executive order has had a negative impact on their employees’ ability to travel. 

Most of the bans in the executive order are temporary while the Trump Administration reviews how immigrants and refugees are screened.

At last count, there are more than 7,000 non-citizen immigrants in Washington from the banned countries.

Year started with KUOW: 1994