California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday joined with 16 other attorneys general in supporting a challenge of President Donald Trump's travel ban in a case involving two men from Yemen who were stopped in Virginia from entering the country.
The friend of the court filing is the second that Becerra and other attorneys general have filed in cases challenging the president's Jan. 27 executive order that temporarily barred travelers from seven largely Muslim countries and suspended refugee arrivals.
In the latest case, two brothers with Yemeni visas, Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, filed a complaint in the Eastern District Court of Virginia on Jan. 30, saying they flew into Washington D.C.'s Dulles International Airport and were handcuffed and detained.
They allege they were forced to sign papers surrendering their visas and that neither could read or understand the papers. The two were then sent from Dulles to Ethiopia, the suit contends.
"There is nothing in our Constitution or laws that grants anyone, including the President of the United States, the power to disregard the Bill of Rights,” Becerra said in a statement. “By detaining people who had a lawful right to be here from entering the United States, denying them legal counsel and cancelling their visas simply because of their religion or national origin, the Trump Administration exceeded its authority and violated the Constitution."
In another challenge of the Trump ban, the states of Washington and Minnesota won an order from a federal district court temporarily suspending the travel restrictions across the country. That district court order is now on appeal before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
A three-judge panel heard arguments in the case on Tuesday, with the federal government contending that the president has broad powers to impose restrictions on immigration for national security. The government contends the seven countries named in the executive order — Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Iran — harbor terrorists who could do harm to the U.S.
An attorney for Washington state argued that the travel ban has hurt its residents and businesses and targets Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Parties in the case are awaiting a ruling from the appeals court that is expected this week. A challenge of the travel ban is expected to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.