Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, with the backing of the state's Republican governor, said Tuesday her office was joining a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.
Healey, a Democrat, said the order restricting travel into the U.S. by people from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and blocking refugees for 120 days was "harmful, discriminatory and unconstitutional."
Gov. Charlie Baker did not join Healey at a news conference announcing the lawsuit but simultaneously issued a statement that expressed support for the action and a hope that the courts would resolve the dispute quickly.
A moderate in a heavily Democratic state, Baker was the first GOP governor to announce during the presidential campaign that he would not support his party's nominee, saying he questioned whether Trump had the temperament for the job.
Massachusetts is intervening in the lawsuit filed over the weekend on behalf of two state university professors, both Muslims from Iran and lawful permanent U.S. residents.
"With the wave of a pen, the president's executive order kept them and thousands of others from coming home," said Healey.
After being detained and questioned for three hours Saturday at Boston's airport as they returned from an academic conference, the professors were released.
University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan, a former Democratic congressman, said the five-campus system has more than 300 students and 166 faculty members from the seven countries named in Trump's order.
"We will do everything we can to protect our faculty, our students, our scholars, our researchers," said Meehan.
Early Sunday, two federal judges in Boston granted the ACLU of Massachusetts a temporary injunction against the travel ban from the seven predominantly Muslim nations. Healey said the state would seek to make permanent the injunction and require immigration officials to process and approve renewals of visas and other immigration statuses for those already in the U.S.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced separately on Tuesday his office is similarly joining a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in that state. On Monday, Washington became the first state to file a legal challenge against the executive order.
The order is necessary to keep potential terrorists out of the country until security procedures are improved, the Trump administration maintains.
Oxfam, a Boston-based non-profit, and the ACLU of Massachusetts also joined in the state's lawsuit against Trump.