There's no expected impact on arrivals at Sea-Tac International Airport since the travel ban has been in place.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and immigration-rights advocates strongly criticized Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the Trump administration policy banning travelers from some countries from entering the U.S.
The ruling was a defeat for Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Democrats who played a key role in fighting various versions of the ban, the latest of which restricts travel from seven nations. Five of those countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations.
Inslee blasted the court’s 5-4 ruling as “abhorrent” in a statement, saying a majority of the justices were “turning a blind eye to the president’s own words and our country’s constitutional protections against discrimination.”
Ferguson, who received national media attention for successfully halting an initial, broader version of the travel ban, distanced himself from the new ruling in a statement, noting the decision came in a separate case filed by Hawaii.
“Washington state was not a party. Washington state successfully defeated the Trump Administration’s original travel ban. The Trump Administration chose not to appeal our victory to the Supreme Court, and paid our court costs,” said Ferguson, who was traveling Tuesday on a family camping trip.
The third version of the travel ban, affirmed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, is narrower than the initial ban, which applied to people with valid visas as well as green- card holders, Ferguson said. The initial travel ban’s sudden imposition set off a weekend of chaos and protests at airports across the U.S.
“Our efforts made a real difference in the impacts of this policy. That said, today’s decision rejecting Hawaii’s challenge to a narrower version of the travel ban is disappointing,” he said.
Washington State Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich called the court decision an affirmation of Trump’s policy and a blow to Ferguson’s grandstanding.
“The SCOTUS ruling confirms that the administration is pursuing a reasonable and constitutionally-sound policy to keep our country safe,” Heimlich said in a statement. “This ruling is a rejection of Bob Ferguson and his obsession with wasteful efforts to gather headlines instead of using his efforts to defend Washingtonians.”
Ferguson has previously boasted he was undefeated in the more than two dozen legal cases filed against the Trump administration. On Tuesday, Ferguson filed his 27th such lawsuit, leading a group of 17 states and the District of Columbia in challenging the administration’s forcible separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Brionna Aho, a spokeswoman for Ferguson, said in an email the latest travel-ban ruling was “not a loss” for Ferguson’s record because Washington was not a party to the lawsuit. The state did submit an amicus brief in the Hawaii case.
Immigrant rights and Muslim advocacy groups also criticized the ruling, which upholds the administration policy banning entry to the U.S. from five countries with mostly Muslim populations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also affects two non-Muslim countries, blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.
A crowd of Muslim and immigrant-rights supporters rallied against the court decision Tuesday at Seattle’s federal courthouse. They were joined by a march supporting undocumented activist Maru Mora Villalpando, whose deportation hearing was held earlier that afternoon.
“Today’s ruling is not the first time the Supreme Court has been wrong,” Tana Lin, a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Washington, told the crowd. “As with earlier rulings, history will judge today’s decision harshly.”
Trump hailed the court ruling as a victory in a statement Tuesday, saying it repudiated “months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians.”
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, in a statement said now that the court has ruled, “It is Congress’ responsibility to work with the Administration to prioritize the safety of Americans, respect religious freedom, and create a way forward for those who wish to come here for greater opportunity and hope.”
Opponents of the travel ban had argued it should be invalidated as biased against Muslims, citing Trump’s statements when he was campaigning for president that he wanted a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
In an interview, Jasmin Samy, civil-rights director for the Washington Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called the court decision a setback, especially in light of Trump’s broader rhetoric about Muslims and immigrants.
“Our focus is on the community, and to make the community feel safe,” Samy said. “The ban has already caused tremendous suffering, as you know.”
“It truly saddens me that this court doesn’t check this president’s worst impulses,” said Karol Brown, a Bellevue-based immigration attorney.
Some of Brown’s clients are impacted by the travel ban, including an American citizen separated from her Iranian-born husband, and a Somali refugee separated from her 7-year-old son. The son had been living in a refugee camp in Kenya with his father, who recently died.
While family members can apply for waivers to enter the U.S., such waivers have been extremely hard to come by, according to Brown and other immigrant-rights advocates.
The ban also risks putting the region’s tech economy at a competitive disadvantage, Seattle immigration lawyer Steve Miller said. Companies that want to hire workers from any of the affected countries using the H1-B, or high-tech visa program must receive an individual waiver for each employee.
Big tech companies, including Amazon, Microsoft and Expedia, rallied against the original travel ban last year, signing petitions and in some cases joining lawsuits to block its implementation.
All have international workforces, and some high-profile tech entrepreneurs immigrated from affected countries.
“This ban is terrible for American innovation,” said Hadi Partovi, the CEO of computer- science training program Code.org. Partovi immigrated from Iran with his brother, Ali Partovi, also a tech entrepreneur, when both were young. He pointed to several other Iranian entrepreneurs who have led big companies in the U.S., including Partovi’s cousin Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Uber.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a tweet Tuesday that the company was disappointed in the ruling and “will continue to support the legal rights of our employees and their families,” he wrote.
There was no expected immediate impact on arrivals at Sea-Tac International Airport since the travel ban has been in place, with the Supreme Court in December rejecting a request to suspend the policy pending legal challenges.
Seattle Times staff reporters Nina Shapiro, Sarah Wu and Rachel Lerman contributed to this report.
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