Hawaii Becomes the First State to Sue Over President Trump's Revised Travel Ban

March 8th 2017

Mike Rothschild

President Donald Trump's first executive order banning travel from seven Muslim nations was stopped by a flurry of lawsuits, and eventually blocked by a federal court. It appears that the second travel ban, signed on March 6, will have to run the same gauntlet.


On Tuesday night, Hawaii became the first state to sue the federal government to stop the new ban from being implemented, filing an amended complaint to the state's suit against the now-defunct first ban. The plaintiffs, which include the state's attorney general, as well as the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, decry Trump's "illegal actions" and claim the order "inflicts a grave injury on Muslims in Hawai‘i."

"This second Executive Order is infected with the same legal problems as the first Order—undermining bedrock constitutional and statutory guarantees," the suit posits, claiming it will subject Hawaiian Muslims to "discrimination and second-class treatment, in violation of both the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act."

With the removal of Iraq from the list of majority Muslim nations whose residents are banned from entering the U.S., as well as removal of provisions barring green card holders and permanent residents, Trump's second ban is meant to be clearer and easier to defend in court. But Hawaii's lawyers believe it suffers from the same constitutional problems and lack of vetting as the first.

Hawaii relies heavily on foreign workers, both as employees and business owners, comprising as many as 20 percent of the state's workforce, according to the suit. The amended complaint alleges that the travel ban will harm these workers and their families, as well as impede the state's educational institutions, and interfere with Hawaii's lucrative tourism industry, which brings in visitors from all over the world.

"[The executive order] is damaging Hawaii’s institutions, harming its economy, and eroding Hawaii’s sovereign interests in maintaining the separation between church and state as well as in welcoming persons from all nations around the world into the fabric of its society," the suit alleges.

The state's compalint will need permission from the federal court that heard the original suit to go forward, and the its lawyers seek an expedited ruling to block the new ban before it goes into effect on March 16.