Massachusetts on Tuesday plans to join a court fight against U.S. President Donald Trump's order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, a move that the state's attorney general criticized as unconstitutional.
Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, said in a posting on Twitter late on Monday that her office would join a lawsuit in federal court challenging the ban. A federal judge in Boston, home to Logan International Airport, on Saturday blocked Trump's order from being enforced for seven days.
"We will be joining in a lawsuit challenging Trump's immigration order," Healy said on Twitter. "What he did was unconstitutional & harmful to (Massachusetts)."
Massachusetts would be following the lead of Washington state, which said on Monday that it would be filing a lawsuit in federal court challenging the ban on constitutional grounds.
Trump's order halted travel by people with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and stopped the resettlement of refugees for 120 days. In an interview with a Christian broadcaster over the weekend, Trump said he would give preference to Syrian Christians seeking refugee status.
The White House has described the ban as necessary "to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States."
Thousands of people took to the streets and airports of major U.S. cities over the weekend to protest the move, which also has provoked a global backlash, including criticism from U.S. allies who view the move as discriminatory.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion.
Federal judges in five states blocked U.S. authorities over the weekend from enforcing the order.
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs of Massachusetts took the strongest action by barring the detention or removal of approved refugees, visa holders and permanent U.S. residents entering from the seven countries for seven days. Her order also stopped federal officials from expelling from the country two Iranian men who teach at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)