SALEM — Oregon’s Department of Justice has filed court papers seeking to join Washington’s lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
“The executive order has caused — and threatens to further cause — harm to Oregon and its residents, employers, agencies, educational institutions, health care system and economy. Moreover, the executive order forces Oregon to violate its own laws against discrimination, frustrating Oregon’s sovereign interest in providing a welcoming home to people from all over the world,” according to the justice department’s motion.
State officials argued that the travel ban could cause a shortage of physicians and medical residents, drain international tuition dollars from universities and strip the state’s technology industry of talent. Out of Oregon’s $92 billion investment portfolio, about $19 million comes from technology companies, who have expressed alarm about the impact the ban will have on their highly-skilled workers who often come from overseas.
“That disruption also affects Oregon as a shareholder,” State Treasurer Tobias Read wrote in a declaration to the court.
About 165 of Oregon State University’s 3,529 international students are citizens of the countries affected by the travel ban. The ban affects 59 of Portland State University’s more than 1,900 international students. International students contributed about 13 percent of PSU’s net tuition and fees for 2015-16. “Their tuition revenue will be lost if they are unable to travel to Oregon,” according to the lawsuit.
The ban would threaten the state’s ability to attract and retain physicans to practice in rural and underserved areas through the J-1 visa program. Likewise, Oregon Health & Science University officials reported the ban affects six of their medical residents and the ability to replace them is unlikely.
“The loss of even one resident to a program carries a very high risk of an adverse impact on OHSU’s ability to provide the patient care that the state of Oregon and Oregonians need,” according to court documents.
Trump’s executive order, signed Jan. 27, indefinitely bans Syrian refugees and temporarily blocks other refugees and citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. The order came after Trump promised during his campaign a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” according to court records.
Federal Judge James Robart in Seattle on Feb. 3 temporarily halted enforcement of the order nationwide after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the order would harm his state’s interests. The state’s lawsuit also claims the order is unconstitutional because it discriminates on the basis of religion. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Robart’s temporary restraining order. Trump suggested he would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the appeals court’s decision “just a procedural ruling on the temporary restraining order.”
“We look forward to a full hearing on the merits of this case, and we feel very confident that we’re going to prevail,” Spicer said during a Facebook Live interviews with Breitbart News.
A timeline for a decision on the state’s request to join Washington’s suit has not been set, said Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for the department.
Since Washington sued the federal government, only Minnesota has officially signed onto the lawsuit, though other states have expressed interest.