Oregon cites harmful effects of travel ban; wants to join Wash. state's lawsuit
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — They are employees of tech firms. They are doctors, practicing medicine in underserved areas of Oregon. They are students in the state's universities.
They are also immigrants, and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum emphasized ways in which Oregon is reliant on them as she sought to join Washington state's lawsuit against President Donald Trump's immigration ban.
Trump's Executive Order targeting people from seven predominantly Muslim countries was put on hold after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sought a temporary restraining Order on Jan. 30, saying the ban was unconstitutional. The White House says it will rewrite the Order.
On Wednesday evening, Rosenblum filed a motion with a federal court asking to join Ferguson's lawsuit, saying the court might craft a limited remedy which would not address the harm caused to Oregon.
In declarations to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Oregon officials gave details on that harm.
State Treasurer Tobias Read said much of Oregon's $92 billion investment portfolio, more than 19 million shares, are held in technology companies that have expressed alarm at the likely impacts of Trump's Executive Order on their businesses.
Read said Trump's Order would harm that portfolio, the state's credit ratings and its economic health.
"Many of the companies in which Oregon and Oregonians have holdings have expressed concern that President Trump's Executive Order 13769 is a threat and will be disruptive to their employees, their productivity, and their competitiveness," Read wrote. "That disruption also affects Oregon as a shareholder."
The ban would also make it harder to have foreign doctors work in underserved areas of the state, said Marc Overbeck, director of the primary care office of the Oregon Health Authority.
Physicians from Iran and Iraq — two of the seven nations included in the ban — have U.S. visas and are practicing medicine in underserved areas in Oregon, Overbeck noted.
He said Oregon already has trouble filling 30 slots per year for international medical graduates to work in rural and underserved areas for which recruitment of an American physician has been unsuccessful.
"The Executive Order will very likely make this even more difficult," Overbeck wrote, adding that one physician from a country included in the travel ban had been willing to work in Florence, a coastal community with a doctor shortage. But he has said the ban makes it unlikely for him to obtain a waiver.
Six medical residents at Oregon Health & Science University who perform critically needed medical care are also from the countries affected by the Executive Order, Rosenblum said.
If any one of them is prevented from returning to the United States after a trip abroad, or if they left the country due to the Executive Order, there would be "a very high risk of an adverse impact on OHSU's ability to provide the patient care that the State of Oregon and Oregonians need," she said.
OHSU Senior Vice President Janet Billups said the Portland school and medical center also has six students, two post-doctoral fellows and one research assistant professor.
Billups said in her declaration that the Executive Order would impact "the advancement of science, which uniquely draws upon the synergy of collaborations from scientists around the world."
There are also at least 263 students from the affected countries at Oregon's universities. Their higher tuition helps subsidize Oregon students, Rosenblum said.
The attorneys general of both Oregon and Washington said in recent interviews they are increasingly consulting with each other and with other Democratic counterparts, as the White House and Congress try to steer a conservative course for the nation.
Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky