WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2017 – Immigrant rights groups asked the Washington District Court to again enjoin the Trump Administration’s “Muslim Ban” executive order. The complaint, filed by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, American Immigration Council, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, modifies the nationwide class action lawsuit, Ali v. Trump, currently pending before Judge Robart in the Western District of Washington.
The new executive order announces a second suspension of immigrant visa adjudications—and a ban on entry—for nationals of six of the seven majority-Muslim countries targeted in the first ban, that will take effect on March 16, 2017. Plaintiffs have asked the court for a hearing to temporarily enjoin the ban before they are forced to suffer the harm that it will cause. They assert in their amended complaint that the second executive order carries the same discriminatory animus and raises the same statutory and constitutional problems found in the first.
In Ali v. Trump, the Plaintiffs seek nationwide certification of a class of United States citizens, lawful permanent residents and U.S. based companies who have filed visa petitions for their immediate family members and employees who are nationals of the targeted countries. Plaintiffs all have gone through a lengthy and rigorous application and screening process, seeking to be reunited with their families or start work in the United States. After the initial Executive Order, thousands of immigrants were either unjustly blocked from entering the United States, had their visas revoked, or had their applications placed on hold.
“Regardless of the administration’s efforts to clean up the language in this latest version of the President’s travel ban, it continues to unlawfully discriminate against people because of their religion, nationality or country of birth,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “The President continues to discriminate against people, including babies and children, labeling them as threats to our national security—not because of anything they have done—but instead because of where they were born.”
Plaintiffs include Reema Dahman, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, who had filed a petition to bring her 16-year-old son, stranded in war-torn Syria, to the United States. The two have not seen each other since 2012. They are now at the last stage of processing, waiting only for an immigrant visa interview to be scheduled. But the President’s second executive order threatens to again suspended immigrant visa interviews, putting safety and security further out of the boy’s reach and further delaying the boy’s reunification with his mother.
Ms. Dahman described the moment she realized her separation from her son would continue by saying, “I’m heartbroken. Every day I am filled with anguish at what might become of my son, and this order just crushed my hopes that I could get him out of harm’s way anytime soon.”
Plaintiff Juweiya Ali’s 6-year-old Somali son is also in limbo. Ms. Ali, a U.S. citizen, began the process to bring him to the United States in August 2016. But they too now face the impending suspension, confronting indefinite delays and left to worry that the visa process will remain suspended indefinitely.
“This latest executive order is just the same as the last one but with a bit of artful legal drafting to try to withstand judicial scrutiny,” said Trina Realmuto, Litigation Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “We hope the Court will see through this shoddy cover for the President’s long-standing desire to enact a Muslim ban and stop it from going into effect.”
“The current travel ban, like the first, is as unnecessary as it is discriminatory,” stated Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney at the American Immigration Council. “All visa applicants and visa holders who seek to immigrate to the United States already are subject to vigorous screening and review—no matter their country of origin. There is no legitimate basis to single out nationals from Muslim-majority countries and refuse to process their visa applications or honor visas that have already been issued.