2017 in review: An 'island in the Pacific' squares off against America's new president

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As we near the end of 2017, Hawaii News Now is taking a look back at the biggest stories that emerged over the course of a turbulent year for Hawaii.

"Well, we're here tonight to celebrate the election of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence."

The words of former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle were greeted with loud cheers in January as local Trump supporters packed their bags for Washington, D.C. A small but proud group from Hawaii gathered in the chilly District rain to watch the president's inauguration.

Hawaii voted overwhelmingly for other candidates, and many of them were visible the very next day, when a grandmother from Maui led a massive women's march against the new administration, sparking protests across the country.

By the end of February, Hawaii officials were already at odds with Trump. The state's Attorney General challenged an executive order that blocked travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. – an order whose rollout created chaos. Hawaii was among the first to sue over the ban, starting a legal battle that will almost certainly end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Along the way, a federal judge in Hawaii named Derrick Watson became a national figure when he repeatedly blocked evolved versions of the travel ban. Attorney General Doug Chin's challenges cemented his profile as a Trump critic and eventually catapulted him into candidacy for Congress.

Some members of President Trump's cabinet were dismissive of Hawaii's role in national politics. In an appearance on CNN, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was "amazed" that "a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."

The battle with the Trump administration also included an effort to block the deportation of Andres Magana-Ortiz, a respected Kona coffee farmer who was smuggled into the U.S. as a teen.

A judge in federal appeals court called his deportation 'inhumane,' and members of Hawaii's congressional delegation attempted to stop it, but by July, Magana-Ortiz was forced to say goodbye to his wife and children and board a plane to Mexico.

"Very, very sad, and very disappointed in many ways, but there's not much I can do," he said.

Hawaii's lawmaking delegation seemed emboldened by the president's unpopularity in the state, appearing frequently on national media outlets to criticize various Trump policies and actions.

The year ended with yet another win for Hawaii in their challenge over Mr. Trump's travel ban, with Judge Watson and the 9th Circuit blocking what's been called Travel Ban 3.0. But so far, these wins have been temporary, with the the Supreme Court reimposing the restrictions Hawaii initially sued over.

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