State of California sues Trump over executive order on immigration

Originally published on January 30, 2017 for The Daily Californian

The state of California is suing President Donald Trump over his executive order that suspends visas and immigration from Syria indefinitely and from six other countries for 90 days.

The lawsuit was filed by East Bay Law attorney Andrew Shalaby on Saturday, one day after Trump signed the order. Shalaby said he hopes that the lawsuit will temporarily suspend the order’s enforcement and that the court will decide that Trump overstepped the boundaries of his power in the executive branch.

“We’ve been in touch with a lot of people who are heavily involved in the constitutional law arena. They unanimously are of the opinion that (the order is) unconstitutional,” Shalaby said. “If nothing is done about it, then the executive branch, meaning Donald Trump, will continue to issue executive orders that violate the Constitution.”

Regardless of the outcome of the initial hearing, Shalaby said he suspects that the case will go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court of the United States.

Pieter Sittler, internal vice president for Berkeley College Republicans, believes that the lawsuit is unjustified and that Trump is simply following through with his campaign promises with the executive order.

“(Trump) promised the American people that he would maintain an unrelenting focus on the safety and security of our homeland,” Sittler said. “(The lawsuit is) just California grandstanding the Republican President Donald Trump … I hope it doesn’t continue.”

According to Shalaby, the plaintiff argues in the lawsuit that Trump overextended the reach of the executive branch. Shalaby said a war or emergency should exist to justify an executive order. Shalaby added that Trump cites terrorist attacks as the precedent for the order, specifically the Sept. 11, 2001 attack, even though it occurred 16 years ago.

“Two presidents and Congress had 16 years to enact such a law,” Shalaby said. “They didn’t do it because they didn’t find it to be in the best interest of the country.”

Shalaby said he believes that the lawsuit raises awareness of the nature of the new administration. For some, such as UC Berkeley alumnus Cuahuctemoc Salinas, the lawsuit is a reason for hope and optimism.

Salinas said he has always posted on social media that he is “undocumented and unafraid,” but with Trump’s election, he has begun to accept his fear. Salinas emphasized that it is okay for people to be upset, confused and afraid at this time.

Zeinab, a campus bioengineering graduate student who requested the omission of her last name to protect her identity in light of reported border social media checks, holds dual citizenship in Canada and Iran. She said she is uncertain about whether she can leave the country and return, even though she has an F-1 student visa.

Zeinab said, however, the lawsuit gives her hope for the next four years under Trump’s administration.

“I don’t know whether the lawsuit will be able to do anything … (But) it gave me hope,” Zeinab said. “California is amazing. It gives me hope that people will be alert and stand up for people that they know — not just themselves.”

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