Herring’s Intervention in Executive Order Lawsuit is Election Year Grandstanding
When you hear that the Attorney General of Virginia is going to make an announcement involving a “major legal action” in a year ending in an odd number, you can pretty much guarantee you’re about to see some worthless partisan grandstanding.
Attorney General Mark Herring didn’t disappoint my cynical nature yesterday, when he announced that Virginia would be intervening in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Yemeni permanent resident aliens who were denied entry into the United States as a result of the President’s temporary travel ban impacting seven Middle Eastern nations with ties to international terror.
Normally, Virginia wouldn’t get involved in an immigration issue like this. After all, as Democrats are usually quick to remind you, immigration is a federal responsibility, and the enforcement of immigration laws isn’t something Virginia can directly impact or influence. That’s the standard response any time Republicans try to find creative ways to deal with illegal immigration, or want to use state resources to aid the federal government in enforcing our immigration laws. “That’s not our job” is the reflex response. That reflex is apparently suspended in election years, especially when there’s a chance to generate some headlines by trying to intervene in a lawsuit on an issue that has largely become moot.
That’s what happened when Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly determined that allowing the entry of permanent resident aliens – green card holders – was in the national interest. Had the two Yemeni young men entered the country today, they would be allowed in. There are other facts specific to that case that need to be weighed, including the claim that Customs and Border Protection agents bullied the two men into surrendering their green cards, but the main issue has been resolved.
That didn’t matter to Attorney General Herring or Governor McAuliffe. They wanted their headlines, so they had to concoct a reason to intervene. The one they came up with doesn’t pass the laugh test.
According to the brief supporting the Motion to Intervene Herring has filed, the reason the Commonwealth of Virginia must stick our nose into a federal responsibility is … our colleges. Virginia Tech, for instance, has staff who are here on H1-B visas. Some 100-150 Virginia Commonwealth University students would be “unable to reenter the United States to continue their education (or, alternatively, leave to visit their families)” and the brief mentions VCU has a Qatar campus, although the brief fails to note that Qatar isn’t on the list of seven states that the Executive Order applies to. Herring goes on to argue that foreign professors may be barred from traveling, and could lose grant money, and students who couldn’t travel may decide to end their studies, costing Virginia tuition money.
The entire premise is, frankly, absurd. The travel ban is a temporary ban – 90 days for entry, 120 days for refugee resettlement – of three months from the date it began, last weekend. At worst, some Virginia students may miss their Spring Break – assuming they wanted to head back to one of these seven countries for Spring Break, which sounds insane, honestly – and a professor may have to cancel their spring trip abroad. No one is permanently banned from entering the country, although Syrian refugee resettlement has been paused indefinitely. To claim that the Executive Order has an impact on Virginia because of our colleges is to take credulity and stretch it so far that it’s thinner than the hair on Joe Biden’s scalp.
The rest of the claims made by Herring and McAuliffe are the same claims you’ll hear from every Democrat these days about this Executive Order. It’s “unlawful,” it’s “discriminatory,” and it’s “unconstitutional.” None of those things has been litigated, however, and the only portion of the EO that was suspended by court order over the weekend was where it impacted green card holders, an issue that, as I noted before, has been dealt with. The rest of the order has yet to be argued, and given the President’s blanket authority under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f), to exclude any aliens, immigrant or non-immigrant, including permanent resident aliens, if he deems it to be “in the national interest,” it’s unlikely that a court is going to find the EO unlawful or unconstitutional. Non-citizens who are not on US soil do not have Constitutional rights, and while the INA bars discrimination in immigration actions based on a variety of factors, the text of the EO isn’t discriminatory and is based on the President’s view that the pause is necessary to ensure proper screenings of individuals coming from high risk areas of the world.
The Democrats, including Herring and McAuliffe, are doing their best to try to paint this Executive Order as an attack on Islam, which is, oddly enough, exactly what ISIS and the rest of the radical islamic terrorist community want. Yet there can be no argument that the seven states listed in the ban include the most likely loci of international terror right now. The two men involved in this very lawsuit are citizens of the same country where Chief Petty Officer Ryan Owens, of Virginia Beach-based Seal Team Six, was killed in a raid against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula last weekend, the first American killed in action during the Trump Administration.
Whether you support the Executive Order or you oppose it (and I strongly oppose the refugee pause, especially the indefinite Syrian refugee pause), there is no legitimate reason for Virginia to try to interject herself into a federal lawsuit about the federal government’s implementation of a federal responsibility. Herring and McAuliffe have been more than happy to ignore the federal government’s failed immigration policies when it was convenient to them in the past, and now they’re changing their tune solely because of the political calculation that this order is unpopular with Democrats in Virginia, who are screaming at their elected officials to “resist” President Trump, regardless of whether there’s any legitimate reason to use Virginia taxpayer dollars to do so.
Bottom line – this lawsuit is nothing more than election year grandstanding from an overly political Attorney General who never hesitates to wade into areas that aren’t his concern, yet is quick about refusing to do his actual job if he doesn’t feel like it.
Did you expect something more?