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Hawaii leaders react to Supreme Court’s decision on Trump travel ban

Nina Wu
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Protesters call out against the Supreme Court ruling upholding President Donald Trump’s travel ban outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington today.

Hawaii’s congressional and government leaders reacted with dismay at the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Donald Trump’s third version of a travel ban for individuals from several mostly Muslim countries.

The 5-4 decision on Trump v. Hawaii today prompted a tweet from President Donald Trump: “SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!”

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono reacted swiftly with her own tweet.

“Today is a dark day for our country,” she posted this morning. “Every time our country has singled out a minority group for discriminatory treatment, we have been proven very, very wrong. The Supreme Court’s decision in #TrumpvHawaii will be no different.”

She said the same in a statement, adding, “By ignoring the President’s clear intent to discriminate against Muslims, the Court handed the President unfettered power to continue to target minorities.”

On national television she questioned whether people from Canada or Guatemala would be next.

“Many of Hawaii’s families vividly remember experiencing unjust discrimination on the basis of race and national origin,” said Gov. David Ige in a statement. “Our state will continue to be a check on this president’s irrational fear of travelers from predominantly Muslim countries. Sadly, the Supreme Court’s decision does not reflect the American values of inclusion, freedom, and opportunity. And it does not reflect the Aloha Spirit that Hawaii exemplifies.”

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz denounced the decision as well.

“What is legal is not always just,” said Schatz in a statement. “A narrow ruling on whether or not the President of the United States is in possession of the statutory authority to implement this policy avoids the basic question of whether or not it’s the right thing to do. The Supreme Court made the wrong decision and ignored the evidence that the Muslim ban, even the more narrowly tailored version, is a xenophobic policy that makes our country no safer than before. The American people know the truth about the Muslim ban: it is un-American and contrary to everything we stand for.”

Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki said the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case April 25.

The case was originally filed in federal district court for the district of Hawaii in February 2017 concerning litigation about the second travel ban, he said. In October 2017, Judge Derrick K. Watson halted implementation of the third travel ban, and his ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in December.

“We are profoundly disappointed with today’s ruling from the Supreme Court, as we continue to believe the President’s travel ban is unconstitutional,” said Suzuki in a statement. “We must remain vigilant and continue to challenge the President’s unprecedented, unjust actions, and protect Hawaii residents from his discriminatory policies.”

Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, who as state attorney general last year challenged Trump’s revised order on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and illegal under immigration law, said, “I hurt today for Hawaii families and others who have experienced discrimination and scapegoating due to President Trump’s bullying remarks and orders. I am fortified, however, by the spirit of all those who came before us and struggled for the American dream. The path to civil rights does not always come quickly, but I have faith in humanity and believe justice will eventually prevail.”

An advocacy group, Hawaii J20+, plans to hold a protest of the court’s decision at 4 p.m. today in front of the Federal Building at the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Halekauwila Street. The group said Suzuki, Chin and the ACLU would be joining the protest.

Nandita Sharma, a sociology professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and member of Hawaii J20+, said the decision “re-institutionalizes racism in US immigration policy.”

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