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California joins 15 other states going to court to challenge Trump's immigration orders

Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra speaks his confirmation hearing in Sacramento in January. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra speaks his confirmation hearing in Sacramento in January. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

California and 15 other states joined the growing legal challenge to President Trump’s immigration orders, filing an amicus brief Monday supporting Washington state’s lawsuit that argues the directives targeting people from Muslim-majority countries are unconstitutional.

State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announced the friend-of-the-court brief after a federal judge put a nationwide hold on the immigration moratorium and the case was appealed by the Trump administration.

“The state of California is today on the record opposing the Trump administration’s executive order banning travel for principally individuals of Muslim origin and faith,” Becerra said at a press conference in Fresno on Monday.

California was joined in filing the brief by Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

“On behalf of the nearly 40 million people of California, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with [other] attorneys general ... to preserve the suspension of the Trump Administration's travel ban," Becerra said in a statement.

“The Administration's reckless dismissal of the Constitution threatens to rip apart California families, risks their economic well-being and defies centuries of our American tradition,” he added.

The brief, co-written by Becerra's office and its counterparts in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, argues that Trump’s order harms the state.

“If this court were to grant a stay, it would resurrect the chaos experienced in our airports beginning on the weekend of January 28 and 29, and cause harm to the States—including to state institutions such as public universities, to the businesses that sustain our economies, and to our residents,” said the 23-page brief.

The attorney general said medical school programs would "risk being without a sufficient number of medical residents to meet staffing needs."

In addition, Becerra said “the process of admitting students to state colleges and universities would be disrupted” as more than 2,000 students would be affected.

“We in California will continue to coordinate with like-minded states in a concerted effort to fight the travel ban that denies the rights of law-abiding people to travel freely here and abroad,” he said.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to receive written arguments from both sides today and may rule within a week.

The panel will rule on whether an emergency stay against Trump's orders should remain in place until the constitutional issues are decided.

The federal judge who issued the restraining order decided that the states that challenged the immigration moratorium would suffer immediate and irreparable harm in employment, business, education, familial relations and freedom to travel.

Updated at 3:41 pm to include Becerra comment from Fresno press conference.

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