What Happens Next with the Lawsuits Against Trump's Revised Travel Ban

March 14th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

District courts in Hawaii and Washington state are expected to hear arguments against President Donald Trump's revised executive order on immigration this week.


State attorneys general have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the travel ban, claiming the president's order will harm Muslims living in the states and negatively impact tourism, businesses, and public universities. Both lawsuits are seeking a temporary restraining order against the ban, which takes effect Thursday.

What you need to know about Hawaii's lawsuit.

Last week, Hawaii became the first state to file a legal challenge to Trump's executive order. Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin's lawsuit was accepted by a federal judge, and the first hearing is scheduled for March 25.

In a statement, Chin alleged that two particular sections of the executive order violate the Constitution by "discriminating on the basis of nationality, ignoring and modifying the statutory criteria for determining terrorism-related inadmissibility, and exceeding the president's authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act."

If implemented, plaintiffs argue the law would harm the state's tourism industry by discouraging travel to the U.S., while also barring foreign students from the six, majority-Muslim countries affected by the ban. In addition, the order would subject "a portion of the state's citizens to second-class treatment and discrimination," attorneys involved in the suit wrote.

The lawsuit also noted that residents who have relatives in nations affected by the ban would be unable to see their own relatives unless they themselves travel abroad. Ismail Elshikh, the Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii — whose Syrian mother-in-law wouldn't be able to visit the state under the law — is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

As ABC News reported, "The U.S. government says Hawaii's allegations of negative impacts for tourism and universities are pure speculation." It also "says neither Elshikh's nor his mother-in-law have suffered any harm because she has not been denied a waiver for a visa to visit the United States."

Thirteen states and Washington D.C. have filed amicus briefs with the Hawaii district court in a show of support for the state's lawsuit. The documents detail how the revised travel ban would impact immigration and tourism in each of those states. No other states have formally joined the lawsuit, yet.

What you need to know about Washington's lawsuit.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson — whose office obtained a temporary restraining order against the president's first travel ban last month — on Monday requested an expedited hearing to challenge the revised version of the executive order.

Though the revised version does address certain concerns raised in the state's initial lawsuit, such as the inclusion of legal permanent residents in the travel ban, eliminating "some illegal aspects of President Trump’s original travel ban does not cure his affront to our Constitution," Ferguson said in a press release.

In an amended complaint filed in district court on Monday, the attorney general alleged that the law would hurt "families, educational institutions, economies, businesses, health care systems, religious organizations, and sovereign interests" in Washington as well as in five other states that joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

U.S. District Judge James Robart, who granted the state's request for a temporary restraining order against the first version of the travel ban, said he would give the federal government until Thursday to respond to the lawsuit before setting a hearing date, Reuters reported.

How did we get here?


In January, Trump signed an executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and temporarily suspending the country's refugee program. The White House said the order served the interests of national security, but following a chaotic rollout that saw hundreds detained at airports across the U.S., civil rights groups and states sued the government.

Washington's motion to impose a temporary restraining order against the ban was granted by a district judge on Feb. 3. The government appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but a panel of three federal judges upheld the restraining order four days later.

Rather than continue through the appeals process, which would have required the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in, or argue the legal merits of the case in Washington's district court, the Trump administration rewrote the travel ban, excluding certain elements that proved legally troubling and dropping Iraq from the list of banned countries.