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BOSTON Massachusetts on Tuesday joined a legal effort to block U.S. President Donald Trump's order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, which the state's attorney general has said is unconstitutional.

The legal maneuvers were the latest acts of defiance against executive orders signed by Trump last week that sparked a wave of protests in major usa cities, where thousands of people decried the new president's actions as discriminatory. In a tweet Monday night, Healey called the order "unconstitutional and harmful to [Massachusetts]".

Healey, a Democrat who addressed protesters at Boston's Logan Airport on Saturday, said her office would join a suit originally filed on behalf of two Iranian engineering professors at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

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.

"Our job in government and here in the attorney general's office is to make sure that we uphold the rule of law, that we uphold the tenets and the principle set forth in our state constitution and our United States Constitution", Healey said.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced separately on Tuesday his office is similarly joining a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in that state.

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"It discriminates on the basis of religion and national origin, denies our residents access to due process and equal protection of the wall, and violates federal immigration law", Healey said. On Monday, Washington became the first state to file a legal challenge against the executive order.

Thousands of people took to the streets and airports of major USA cities over the weekend protesting the action, which has provoked a global backlash including from US allies who view the ban as discriminatory.

San Francisco sued to challenge a Trump directive to withhold federal money from USA cities that have adopted sanctuary policies toward undocumented immigrants, which local officials argue help local police by making those immigrants more willing to report crimes. "It is not in the interest of the United States as we look at issues of terrorism to operate this way - to not have the Secretary of Defense, Homeland Security, involved in these decisions".

"We will do everything we can to protect our faculty, our students, our scholars, our researchers", said Meehan.

After being detained and questioned for three hours Saturday at Boston's airport as they returned from an academic conference, the professors were released.