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Minnesota joins lawsuit over Trump's refugee order

ST. PAUL — Minnesota has joined with other states in suing the federal government over President Donald Trump's executive action on immigration.

"It does not pass constitutional muster, is inconsistent with our history as a nation, and undermines our national security," Attorney General Lori Swanson said late Wednesday night. "America can keep its people safe without sacrificing bedrock constitutional principles."

The federal suit, first filed by Washington state, alleges that Trump's order banning refugees and others from seven majority-Muslim countries violates the equal protection, establishment and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution as well as the federal Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, Swanson's office said. It is one of several legal challenges filed since Trump on Friday signed the order, which has also prompted large protests in Minnesota and elsewhere.

The suit says that the executive order harms Minnesota's colleges and universities, businesses, travelers and residents.

More than 30,000 Minnesotans are from Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, the suit says.

"These Minnesotans now face considerable uncertainty about whether they may travel overseas or whether relatives may visit or move here," it says.

It also tells the tale of an unnamed 4-year-old Somali girl, "who was separated from her mother and two sisters shortly after being born in a refugee camp in Uganda" and who was scheduled to join her family in Minnesota on Jan. 30, after waiting for a visa her whole life.

"The young girl was at the airport in Uganda on January 30, 2017, ready to board the plane, but she was not allowed due to the Executive Order," the suit claims.

The Trump administration has defended the executive order.

"It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals traveling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country," the White House said earlier this week in firing the acting attorney general, an Obama administration holdover who questioned the order, and then appointing a new one.

Several federal judges have temporarily halted parts of Trump's order, which also threatened deportation of some foreign nationals.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, said earlier this week that he supported Swanson in her early reaction to the presidential action.

"I will work with her to defend the rights, freedoms, and Constitutional guarantees of the people of Minnesota. I will uphold my sworn oath to 'support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota,' and do everything possible to ensure that every Minnesotan is treated lawfully and fairly," he said.

Keith Downey, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, said Swanson's action was "pure politics."

"You might disagree with the policy objective of airtight vetting, but not the legality of a temporary suspension of immigration from seven countries identified by the Obama-Clinton administration as sponsors and safe havens for terrorists," he said.

The Massachusetts and New York state attorneys general have also said they would sue to halt action related to the executive order. Legal groups have also sued over the order on behalf of individuals.

The suits have asked courts to toss all or parts of the executive order.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

 
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