North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has joined 16 other attorneys general across the U.S. in supporting a lawsuit opposing President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
Stein and the 16 fellow Democratic attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of Washington and Minnesota in the federal lawsuit against Trump’s executive order. The order barred immigrants, refugees and some legal U.S. residents from seven predominately Muslim nations.
Stein, speaking to reporters after a Council of State meeting in Raleigh Tuesday morning, said the executive order was a “religious-based ban” and therefore unconstitutional.
“Both within the writing of the order itself – it gives favor to non-Muslims – and all you have to do is look at what the president has said over the past few months, calling it a Muslim ban, to know the intent behind this ban was to do a racially discriminatory executive order,” Stein said.
Trump’s order includes an exemption for persecuted religious minorities.
Stein said in a statement Monday night announcing the brief that the order “signals to the world that America sees all Muslims as terrorists, strengthening ISIS’s propaganda and efforts to recruit terrorists.”
Stein joins attorneys general from New York, California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Virginia, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, New Mexico, Iowa, Maine, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
The attorneys general vowed to fight Trump’s executive order for travel bans.
“As the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful Executive Order,” they said in a joint statement.
The Trump administration says the order is aimed at keeping potential terrorists out of the country.
“The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!” Trump tweeted Monday night.
The N.C. Republican Party on Tuesday criticized Stein for disputing the president’s authority on immigration.
“What a make-believe world this attorney general lives in,” N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said. He said that under Stein’s legal argument, a president legally “could blow up airports in the Middle East” but couldn’t say “people can’t get on an airplane in the Middle East and come here.”
“He is using the courts to second-guess a commander in chief,” Woodhouse said.
Stein’s announcement comes on the heels of four federal judges – from New York, Washington, Massachusetts and Virginia – issuing orders since Saturday night to halt parts of Trump’s ban.
Trump’s executive order temporarily suspended America’s refugee program and barred all travelers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. It also indefinitely ended the intake of Syrian refugees.
Staff writers Colin Campbell and Craig Jarvis contributed.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett