Federal Government Revoked 100,000 Visas, DOJ Lawyer Tells Court

In addition to the Temporary Restraining Order issued by a federal judge in Washington, the Trump administration got more bad news out of the Eastern District of Virginia yesterday:

First, Judge Leonie Brinkema (a Clinton appointee to the federal bench) agreed to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s motion to expand the scope of individuals affected by the Trump administration’s executive law to include visa holders, in addition to to green card holders.  According to a statement from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office, the Commonwealth will argue in favor of a motion for a preliminary injunction at a hearing scheduled for February 10.

Second, Judge Brinkema issued a one-page order (Read the PDF here) requiring the federal government to provide the Commonwealth of Virginia “a list of all persons who have been denied entry to or removed from the United States since the Executive Order entitled ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States’ was signed.” Judge Brinkema’s order applies to anyone who was a Virginia resident on the morning of January 27, 2017, and “had lawful permanent resident status, an immigrant visa (or accompanying family or spousal visa), a valid student visa (or accompanying family or spousal visa), or a valid work visa (or accompanying family or spousal visa) by the close of business on Thursday, February 9,2017.”

Third was the biggest bombshell to come out of yesterday’s hearing, which will likely cause the Trump administration no small amount of political and legal headaches for the foreseeable future. Erez Reuveni, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation, told the court, “Over 100,000 visas were revoked on Friday at 6:30 p.m.,” referring to the date the executive order was signed.  According to a Daily Beast reporter who was in the courtroom at the time:

The State Department disputed that figure, saying it was only 60,000 visas that had been revoked. Regardless of which figure is ultimately correct, why is it such a problem for the administration? Again, from Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff:

The President himself cited that same 109 figure earlier this week:

In other words, the administration downplayed the impact of the Executive Order, potentially by a magnitude of 1,000.  (That doesn’t mean that 60,000-100,000 people were detained at or deported from various airports, it means that 60,000-100,000 visas were revoked by the federal government as a consequence of the order.)

Expect all the plaintiffs filing lawsuits against the administration across the country to use that 100,000 visas figure in court and in every filing that will come up in the days and weeks ahead.

Massachusetts and Virginia Join Lawsuits Against Federal Government Over Trump Executive Order

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced her office would be joining a lawsuit against the federal government over President Trump’s controversial executive order. The original plaintiffs were the ACLU of Massachusetts and private attorneys on behalf of two associate professors from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

It is worth noting that, among the several statements in support of the lawsuit from state officials as well as representatives from the private sector and academia is this comment from Republican governor Charlie Baker:

“Massachusetts is a global community and we all benefit from the shared experiences of our partners from around the world to support our economy and educational institutions to make our state the best place to live, work and raise a family. The recent executive order puts this at risk, will not improve our security, and the lack of guidance associated with such an abrupt and overwhelming decision is problematic for all involved.  Our administration has worked with the Attorney General’s office and supports her challenging this action. We look forward to the courts resolving this matter expeditiously.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also filed a motion to intervene in Aziz v. Trump et al. in the Eastern District of Virginia, effectively making the state a plaintiff in the case. The motion says in part:

The Commonwealth has substantial interests justifying its intervention. Virginia has a substantial interest in protecting its public universities and their faculty and students from the academic and fiscal disruption posed by the Executive Order. The Executive Order impairs the ability of students who are lawful permanent residents or present on student visas from continuing to attend Virginia’s public colleges and universities. That impairment will hamper the ability of Virginia’s colleges and universities to attract and retain foreign students in the future and result in a significant loss of tuition revenue to the Commonwealth. The Executive Order also hinders the travel of faculty members and other educational personnel employed by Virginia’s public colleges and universities. Faculty members and students who are unable to travel likely will be forced to forfeit their grant moneys. Moreover, Virginia has a quasi-sovereign interest “in the health and well-being —both physical and economic—of its residents in general,” which will be impaired if Virginia is not permitted to intervene.
Herring’s office also filed a separate brief in support of the motion to intervene.
That makes three states which have joined lawsuits against the federal government yesterday alone.