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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington sues to block Trump immigration order

Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, during a news conference at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press file)

Washington will try to block President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries with a federal lawsuit that could take effect all over the country.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson called the order unconstitutional. Along with the lawsuit, Ferguson is asking a judge to suspend the order until the case can be argued in court.

“We are a country based on the rule of law,” Ferguson said. “Either you are abiding by the Constitution or you are not. In our view, the president is not abiding by the Constitution.”

The lawsuit contends the executive order signed late last week violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment, setting up a religious test because it gives Christian refugees preference over Muslim refugees from the same country, he said. It will include statements from Amazon and Expedia that the restrictions on immigrants who have visas to work for them are hurting their businesses.

Other court action has challenged the order on behalf of individual travelers denied entry at several airports around the United States but judges’ rulings in those cases have been limited. A ruling in this lawsuit could have a nationwide impact, he said.

Ferguson and members of his staff were joined by Gov. Jay Inslee, who applauded peaceful demonstrations against the order and statements of opposition from religious leaders of many faiths.

“Resistance is not futile, it is productive,” Inslee said. Protests against the order were held Saturday at SeaTac Airport, where some travelers were detained because of the order, and Sunday in Seattle and Spokane.

Inslee contended the executive order that includes people with certain visas from Iraq could pose a threat to Washington National Guard troops serving in that country if Iraqis decide to retaliate. The Trump administration should “stop giving ISIS recruiting posters,” Inslee said.

Ferguson and Inslee, who are both Democrats, criticized the implementation of the plan, with poor communication between the administration and the Homeland Security officials at airports who had to enforce it.

Administration officials insisted on Sunday that the implementation was working well, with a very small percentage of people entering the country being delayed for further screening.

Washington officials have been talking with other attorneys general around the country, but Ferguson said he believed this would be the first overall constitutional challenge of the order.

“I hope other states will join us or file their own legal action,” he said.