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Virginia Joins Lawsuit Challenging Trump Immigration Order

Attorney General Mark Herring (Credit: WVIR)
Attorney General Mark Herring (Credit: WVIR) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

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RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -Virginia is joining a federal lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's (R) executive order on refugees and immigration.

Attorney General Mark Herring announced the legal action on Tuesday, calling Trump's executive order "unlawful, unconstitutional and un-American."

Virginia is joining an existing case against the travel ban. Aziz v. Trump is being considered in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Herring and Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) held a news conference explaining their reasoning behind the suit. They say Virginia has a strong interest in protecting lawful residents, like students and professors who now face uncertainty traveling to and from countries included in Trump's order.

Trump's order suspends immigration for citizens of seven countries for 90 days and blocks refugees from entering 120 days.

Administration officials have since said that lawful permanent residents, typically known as "green card" holders, will routinely receive waivers from the ban.

Herring argued that the ban is already hurting Virginians, saying that there are students at the state's colleges and universities who are currently unable to return to Virginia.

"The full impact of President Trump's ban remains unclear because the government has not complied fully and transparently with a valid temporary restraining order issued by a federal court," said Herring.

The press conference ran for about six minutes, including only prepared remarks from Herring and McAuliffe. They did not take questions from the media, citing the pending legal action.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Press Release from the Office of Attorney General of Virginia: 

RICHMOND (January 31, 2017) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring today brought legal action against President Donald J. Trump and members of his administration for his January 27, 2017 Executive Order banning entry to the United States for individuals from certain countries, even those who are lawful permanent residents or entering the United States on valid work or student visas.

The Commonwealth will be defending the rights of its residents and its own sovereign rights by moving to intervene and join the pending case Aziz v. Trump et al. in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Attorney General Herring issued the following statement on today's motion to intervene:

"Today I am bringing legal action on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia against President Donald Trump and his administration for the unconstitutional and unlawful executive order of January 27, 2017. The Commonwealth has substantial interests justifying its intervention, and make no mistake, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and our people, are already being harmed by this Executive Order.

"As we speak, there are students at our colleges and universities who are unable to return to Virginia. We have professors, researchers, and employees at our colleges and universities and Virginia businesses who either cannot enter the country or who will be barred from returning should they leave.

"We have been working around the clock since Friday to examine this Executive Order before reaching this conclusion. This is not an action I take lightly, but it is one I take with confidence in our legal analysis, and in the necessity of intervening to both protect the Commonwealth's own sovereign interests and vindicate its residents' civil rights.

"This order is unlawful, unconstitutional, and un-American and action is required."

The Commonwealth's motion to intervene is available here:  http://ag.virginia.gov/files/2017-01-31-Commonwealths-Motion-to-Intervene-with-Proposed-Order.pdf

The Commonwealth's memorandum of law in support of its motion to intervene is available here: http://ag.virginia.gov/files/2017-01-31-Commonwealths-Brief-ISO-Motion-to-Intervene.pdf

The Commonwealth's intervention and participation in the suit is being handled by Virginia Solicitor General Stuart A. Raphael and members of his team.