Attorney general stands by Hawaii's travel ban lawsuit despite critics
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Attorney General Doug Chin on Thursday said Hawaii needs to be a voice for the Muslim community, comparing President Donald Trump's revised travel ban to a World War II-era executive order that sent hundreds of Japanese Americans to internment camps.
"They're there, and they have a population that counts, and we should speak up for them," Chin said in a news conference sought to expand on the decision to file a motion challenging Trump's ban.
He said the state should speak out for its Muslim population, unlike what happened with the Japanese Americans during World War II.
The state is the first state in the nation to take legal action against the White House since the new order was revealed Monday, but some republican lawmakers are calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars.
"Quite frankly I think this is going to cost a lot of money and the people of Hawaii would love to have their pot holes filled more than they would going out front with this. The other states can do that," Republican Rep. Gene Ward said.
The Hawaii Attorney General hired Washington DC law firm -- Hogan Lovells -- to help with the work. Chin says there is a budget for the legal challenges that is capped at $150,000.
Chin says costs have not reached that high, but if the case reaches the supreme court, it could cost more.
Republican Rep. Bob McDermott also agreeby saying the state is paying a lot of money to an east coast law firm for relatively simple work.
During the Wednesday news conference, Chin said Hawaii is a state that focuses on tourism as a driving force of the economy, and this ban would hurt that because travelers may fear being stopped when going through security.
"What makes Hawaii special is its ethnic diversity," he said. "Because what we do is we depend so much on air travel, to be able to travel from one state to another or between counties."
He said people might feel discouraged every time they're stopped when encountering a federal agent.
He also added that one of the reasons why the state would take legal action is because Trump's executive order is not much different from the first one.
"They didn't take away the same discrimination, they replaced it with a lot of neutral language, but that's not going to be enough to be able to replace a lot of the past statements that were made," Chin said.
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson granted the state's request to continue with the case and set a hearing for March 15 -- the day before Trump's revised ban is due to go into effect.
The state, which on Tuesday gave notice that it was planning to sue over the revised order, is seeking a temporary stay on the ban while its lawsuit moves forward.
In an interview with Hawaii News Now on Wednesday night, Chin said the order will harm the Muslim population of Hawaii.
"Essentially what you still have is a blanket ban against entry from people who are from six different nations, it used to be seven," said Chin. "There is a Muslim population that lives in the state, and they're a group that needs to be protected just like any group."
"They live amongst us and deserve to have a voice," he added.
The state's previous suit had been on hold while a nationwide injunction on the initial ban remained in place. Watson granted the state's request to lift the stay so it could file the amended lawsuit.
Attorneys for the state argue the new executive order "suffers from the same constitutional and statutory defects" as the president's first mandate.
Hawaii was among a number of states that sued over the president's first travel ban. The new order still bars new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and temporarily shuts down America's refugee program.
Chin has called the order, issued Monday, "nothing more than Muslim ban 2.0."
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