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City Files Legal Papers Stating its Opposition to Trump Refugee Ban

By Jeff Mays | February 17, 2017 2:16pm
 Hundreds of protesters chanted,
Hundreds of protesters chanted, "Let them in" outside Terminal 4 at JFK Airport on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos

NEW YORK CITY — The city, along with 33 other municipalities representing a total of 23 million people, filed an amicus brief Friday supporting a legal challenge to President Donald Trump's travel ban against refugees and immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries.

The Trump Administration has said it will not appeal a federal court ruling that blocked his executive order banning some refugees and immigrants from entering the United States — instead planning to file a new version.

But New York City participated in the amicus brief — legal papers that show support for the challenge — anyway, just in case the administration changes course, officials said.

►READ MORE: Federal Appeals Court Denies Trump's Appeal to Reinstate Travel Ban

"We have seen so many changes of direction from the Trump Administration that until we are certain that the current attempt at the travel ban is pulled back, we're going to continue to work with cities all over the country and all other interested parties to stop the travel ban," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show.

When it was issued, Trump's executive order banning travelers and refugees from Syria, Somalia, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Sudan from entering the country caused chaos and led to spontaneous protests at airports across the country, including at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens.

Some people were temporarily held at airports across the country while others were prevented from getting on flights to the United States, before a spate of legal filings prompted judges in Brooklyn and Seattle to curtail it on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

After the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco upheld a stay of the ban by a federal judge in Seattle, the Department of Justice asked for a hearing on the case to be held off until a new order is filed.

"We're issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country," Trump said at a press conference Thursday.

►READ MORE: Here's What We Know About Trump's Refugee Ban

DeBlasio said the brief is still important because of the nature of the ban. Cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle object to the ban because it will damage their economies and "social fabric" while making them less safe because immigrants will no longer cooperate with police.

The order — which has been accused of targeting Muslims because the banned nations have predominantly Muslim populations — also violates travelers' right to due process under the Constitution, the brief says.

The administration has denied that the executive order is a ban on Muslims, saying it's strictly concerned with countries that have posed a security threat to the U.S.

"It is on its face unconstitutional and divisive and again it is a pathway to a religious registry, which is what we should be even more worried about in terms of our Constitution and our values," said de Blasio.

The brief came on the same day that the Associated Press reported on a draft memo from the U.S. Homeland Security proposing a plan to use 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants.

Though the White House did not respond to a request for comment from the AP before publication, they called the article "100 percent not true" and "irresponsible" after it was published.

On Thursday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito promised legislation that would further limit the cooperation of city authorities with federal immigration agents in collecting data and turning over individuals for deportation.

New York is already considered a sanctuary city that limits cooperation with federal deportation efforts.

►READ MORE: New York Should Cooperate Less With Immigration Officials: Mark-Viverito

De Blasio said the city "will be in the forefront of opposing any such policy" as the National Guard deportation memo if it were enacted.

"I think he's going to find tremendous resistance. I think it's not an appropriate role for the National Guard," de Blasio said when informed of the story by Lehrer. "I think it will create tremendous tension between local law enforcement and the federal government."