ctnewsjunkie file photo
Attorney General George Jepsen (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen joined with 15 other Democratic attorneys general from around the United States to submit a brief to the Ninth Circuit Monday afternoon challenging President Donald Trump’s travel ban barring travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.

“We believe that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority in issuing this executive order,” Jepsen said. “The state of Connecticut and, indeed, states across our country cannot and should not have to bear the confusion, cost and economic loss caused by this unconstitutional executive order.”

Jepsen, who was returning from an attorneys general annual gathering, was one of hundreds of Connecticut residents to protest the ban at Bradley International Airport the weekend it went into effect.

Jepsen said the brief asks the court to uphold the restraining order obtained by the Washington and Minnesota attorneys general late last week to allow travelers from these seven countries, who already face significant vetting prior to granting access to the United States, to continue to travel on their visas while the case is litigated.

In their last-minute reply to the Ninth Circuit, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice said, “The executive order is a lawful exercise of the president’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees.”

They said the state cannot challenge the denial of entry to the United States because the state “lacks the authority to sue” to protect its residents from operation of federal law. They said Congress has granted the president the ability to suspend the entry of “any class of aliens,” and has broad discretion over the refugee program.

In their brief, the attorneys general argue that the states do have standing due to the harm incurred to them as a result of the ban. They said the ban “disrupted our state educational institutions’ ability to meet their staffing needs,” and that thousands of students from the affected countries may be unable to enroll in colleges and universities, while hundreds more were unable to return.

The attorneys general said that the ban “has disrupted the process of admitting students for enrollment and imminently threatens the loss of hundreds of millions of tuition dollars.”

The brief goes on to say that more than 800 affected undergraduate students enrolled in programs at City University of New York and 500 graduate and 40 undergraduate students at the University of California’s 10 campuses were impacted and the California State University System has more than 1,300 students from the affected countries with immigrant status and more than 250 students on student visas.

No Connecticut colleges or universities were specifically mentioned in the brief.

The states further argue that the executive order has already caused, and would continue to cause, untold economic damage to local economies in the form of diminished tax revenues from loss of tourism and loss of business investment.

“The States have already been harmed by this Executive Order and its shifting implementation by the federal government,” the brief says.

Attorneys general from Connecticut, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia filed the brief Monday.

In a separate brief, 97 corporations and businesses, mostly from the technology sector, argued that the travel ban will harm the economy and make it far more difficult for U.S. companies to hire the world’s best talent.

“This amicus brief is but the latest action by states to help protect American values as well as the rule of law,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. “This action reflects a groundswell of opposition, including tech companies and other businesses, the legal community, and higher education institutions, to this destructive and dangerous ban, saying to the courts and the President that this measure should be struck down.”