NIAC Staff

NIAC Staff

Memo: How Might Trump Undermine and Break the Provisions of the JCPOA

On July 17, 2017, President Trump reluctantly [1] certified that Iran has complied with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement implemented by the Obama Administration. Following the certification, the Trump Administration then placed sanctions on Iran citing its testing of ballistic missiles and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While the Obama Administration also escalated non-nuclear sanctions on Iran, President Trump and his administration’s extensive anti-JCPOA rhetoric and efforts to discourage legitimate business with Iran in potential violation of the JCPOA are indications that he may not intend to recertify the accord in October.

There are Two Main Ways in which the Administration Can Back Out of the JCPOA

  1. Trump could choose not to certify the JCPOA (even if Iran is in compliance)
  2. Trump could unilaterally implement “snap back” sanctions (even if Iran is in compliance)

If President Trump chooses not to certify the JCPOA, Congress has sixty days to begin expedited consideration of qualifying legislation reinstating sanctions in the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs or the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In either chamber, the Committee has ten session days after the date of referral to report the qualifying legislation before it is discharged and placed on the calendar.

If the Committee reports the legislation reinstating sanctions to the House or if the legislation is discharged from consideration, then the following steps will take place:

  1. The proposed legislation is considered on the House floor.
  2. Two hours of debate are allowed for the legislation.
  3. The legislation receives a vote.

If the Committee reports the legislation to the Senate or the legislation is discharged from consideration, then the following steps will take place:

  1. The proposed legislation is considered on the Senate floor.
  2. Ten hours of debate are allowed for the legislation.
  3. The legislation is immediately voted on.

Any appeals from the decisions of the Chair relating to the application of the Rules of the Senate shall be decided without debate. Debate of any veto messages with respect to qualifying legislation will be limited to ten hours.    

If President Trump decides to directly withdraw from the JCPOA, the Administration could also implement “snap back” sanctions by revoking the previous waivers, re-issuing the executive sanctions previously revoked by President Obama, and reimposing Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) designations that the Obama Administration had previously relieved from nuclear-related sanctions.

First, President Trump could revoke the previous waivers, which would reinstate the statutory sanctions on Iran listed under the Waiver Determinations and Findings. [2] The authority cites to sections in the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA), National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012 (Public Law 112-81), Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-58), and the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996. 

Second, President Trump could reissue the Executive sanctions previously revoked by the Obama Administration. President Obama issued “Executive Order: Revocation of Executive Orders 13574, 13590, 13622, and 13645 with Respect to Iran, Amendment of Executive Order 13628 with Respect to Iran, and Provision of Implementation of Authorities for Aspects of Certain Statutory Sanctions” on January 16, 2016. This Order lifted some of the sanctions implemented by the United States and the UN Security Council prior to the nuclear agreement with Iran. However, Trump could choose to reinstate those same sanctions using his executive power.

Third, President Trump could choose to reimpose SDN designations that the Obama Administration had previously exempted from nuclear-related sanctions. President Obama relieved designated individuals and entities [3] and exempted them from the nuclear-related sanctions, as required by the JCPOA [4]. President Trump could use his executive power to simply relist the Iranian individuals and entities that President Obama had delisted.

Possible Ramifications to Trump’s “Snap Back” Sanctions

The purpose of the JCPOA agreement is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively civilian in nature. The JCPOA gives the United States the ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear energy advancement while giving Iran the opportunity to develop its energy within the guidelines. The lifting of sanctions also allows Iran to re-enter the global economic market per the terms of the nuclear agreement.

The U.S. is not prohibited by the JCPOA from escalating sanctions targeting Iran for non-nuclear activities, provided they do not interfere with U.S. sanctions-lifting obligations. However, the United States cannot reimpose sanctions on the same entities even if they are imposed under a separate justification without violating the JCPOA. Doing so would remove Iran’s incentives to comply with the deal.

The language of the JCPOA explicitly states:

“The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from re-introducing or re-imposing the sanctions specified in Annex II that it has ceased applying under this JCPOA, without prejudice to the dispute resolution process provided for under this JCPOA. The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions. Iran has stated that it will treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions specified in Annex II, or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”

If the United States were to not abide by its agreed upon provisions and place sanctions in violation of the nuclear agreement, Iran can choose to appeal to a joint committee and state the claim that the United States violated the JCPOA.

Caution Moving Forward

While President Trump could technically back out of the JCPOA and destroy the deal, each method has immense consequences for international security, for America’s credibility to negotiate future diplomatic agreements, for nuclear nonproliferation efforts, and for the stability of the entire Middle East. If the legislation goes through Congress, there is always the option that Congress abstains from reinstating the sanctions that would violate the JCPOA. Yet, given that every Republican in Congress voted against the accord during Congressional review in September 2015 and the Republican party controls both houses of Congress, such an outcome seems unlikely. Thus, if Trump failed to certify, Congress would likely deal the accord a fatal blow.

Trump’s decision to “snap back” would further escalate the tense relationship between the United States and Iran and push forward the sentiment of mistrust that has long prevented the two states from successfully sustaining a cooperative relationship. This would not only create pressure in the international community and isolate the United States from its European allies, but such a hardline approach could also increase the climate for war between the United States and Iran. The Administration ultimately has significant latitude and can terminate America’s compliance with the agreement if President Trump so chooses. 

[1] Peter Baker, Trump Recertified Iran Deal, but Only Reluctantly, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/us/politics/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-recertify.html. (July 17, 2017).
[2] See Waiver Determinations and Findings, Dept. of State (Oct. 18, 2015).
[3] Annex II, Attachment III of JCPOA
[4] Paragraph 21 of JCPOA

Iranian-American Community Advisory: Know Your Rights at the Airport and the Border

Given the recent “Muslim Travel Ban” executive orders, many Iranians are concerned about their right to enter the United States (U.S.) and interacting with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which polices the border. This advisory provides some general guidance.[1]
 
Entering the U.S.

Your right to enter the U.S. depends on whether you are a (1) U.S. citizen; (2) a “green card” holder (also known as a “lawful permanent resident” or “LPR”); or (3) a visa holder.

U.S. citizens have an absolute right to enter the U.S. The government must allow entry with proof of identity and citizenship. Showing an unexpired U.S. passport is normally sufficient.

Green card holders (LPRs) have a strong right to enter the U.S. CBP normally cannot refuse entry as long as the trip abroad was brief (usually 6 months or less) and innocent (which usually means no criminal issues). Otherwise, you may be subject to deportation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: CBP officers do not have the right to take away your immigration status; only an immigration judge has that authority. A green card holder (LPR) has the right to go before an immigration judge, who will decide whether or not to revoke the green card. Do not sign any document that you do not understand. You often will not immediately see a judge because of backlogs in the court. Depending on your case, you may or may not be detained in a detention center during this process. As such, consult with an immigration attorney before you travel.

Visa holders with valid travel documents to enter the U.S. are still inspected at the border. CBP officers can question you at the airport or border. If they find that you are not seeking to enter the U.S. for the purpose of your visa, or if there is a visa violation, they can refuse your entry into the U.S.

If CBP detains and prohibits you from entering the U.S., and you fear returning to your home country, you may want to tell the CBP agent of your fear of returning home. Doing so triggers the “Credible Fear Interview,” which requires CBP to determine if you have a legitimate fear. Claiming fear will start the asylum process and prohibits CBP from immediately making you return to your home country. However, you may be held in a detention center for several months until you can see an immigration judge. Alternatively, CBP may release you from the airport with paperwork on the next steps of your asylum case.

NOTE ON THE MUSLIM BAN: U.S. citizens, dual nationals, and green card holders (LPRs) are NOT included in the Muslim Travel Ban executive orders. Since February 1, 2017, the government has explicitly stated that green card holders (LPRs) are exempt. As of June 26 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court has also said that the Muslim Travel Ban cannot be enforced against foreign nationals who have a bona fide relationship (i.e. a particular kind of qualifying relationship) with a person or entity in the U.S. Please check for updates as the law is constantly evolving. This advisory does not fully cover the Muslim Travel Ban. Please see our organization websites for more information.

Going Through Customs

CBP has broad authority at the border and airport. This includes the ability to ask questions to decide whether non-U.S. citizens can enter the U.S. CBP officers can ask about your immigration status when you are entering and leaving the U.S., as well as routine customs questions about the nature and purpose of your travel.

U.S. citizens do not have to answer questions outside the scope of immigration status/presenting a valid passport and basic customs questions, but refusing to answer them may lead to delay.

  • YES: The agent can ask questions to confirm you are who you say you are.
  • YES: The agent can ask what countries you visited while you were abroad.
  • YES: The agent can ask why you went to specific countries.
  • YES: The agent can ask how much money you are taking/returning with.
  • NO: The agent cannot ask you about your religion, your politics, or other irrelevant and inappropriate questions of this nature. If this happens, politely ask for a supervisor and try to remember the agent’s name and the questions you were asked.

If you are traveling to Iran to manage finances, land, property, or an inheritance, you may want to consult with an Iran sanctions attorney before you leave the U.S. (contact our organizations for a list of attorneys).

Green card holders (LPRs) have a lot of protections, but not as much as U.S. citizens. CBP can ask questions about your immigration status and routine questions about whether or not your trip was brief and innocent (see above). However, green card holders (LPRs) are not required to answer broader and intrusive questions (see above). 

Visa holders have the least amount of protection, particularly non-immigrant visa holders. CBP can ask a range of questions to confirm: your identity; that you are coming to the U.S. for a legitimate reason; that you are not breaking the law by entering; and other related questions. Unfortunately, visa holders can be denied entry for not answering questions. Before you step off your flight, make sure to review the visa paperwork so that the answers to the CBP agent match the information on your application.

For all travelers, regardless of your immigration status, if a CBP officer asks questions beyond the scope of routine travels (such as questions about political beliefs, religious practices, or questions about family and community), you can ask to speak with a supervisor. You can also ask for the name and badge number of the CBP officer to file a complaint with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties. Contact our organizations for assistance.

If You Are Searched

There are two stages of inspection at the airport: primary and secondary. Everyone goes through primary inspection, where you go up to the CBP agent and show your passport and any immigration paperwork. If CBP pulls you aside and questions you further (usually in a different room and by a different agent), then you are in secondary inspection.

CBP does not allow attorneys into secondary inspection, but you should still have the name and number of your attorney with you and ask to contact her/him if you believe that your rights are being violated or you are being forced to answer questions that may incriminate you. Asking for an attorney cannot be used against you.

Electronic Devices

CBP has the authority to stop, detain, and search any person and any item at the border (which includes airports) and within 100 miles of the border.[2] However, the U.S. Constitution prohibits searches or questioning solely because of national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, political beliefs, or gender. If you are stopped and searched for any of these reasons, you can politely object and state that you do not consent to a search. It is very important that you never physically resist a search. Instead, you can ask to speak with a supervisor and keep a record of the CBP agent’s name and badge number.

Recently, CBP agents have started searching electronic devices such as laptops, phones, etc. much more frequently. The law is currently unclear on the right to search laptops and cell phones at the border. Nevertheless, CBP will often ask travelers to unlock their devices to search them, even when they have no reason to think you did anything wrong.[3]

U.S. citizens cannot be denied entry to the U.S. for refusing to provide access to their device, produce passwords, or submit their electronic devices for a search. Green card holders (LPRs) cannot be denied entry for the same activity unless the trip was not brief or innocent. While visa holders, particularly non-immigrant visa holders, can also refuse to provide access to their electronic devices, doing so may complicate their entry and result in denial of entry to the U.S.

A CBP agent can confiscate your electronic devices regardless of your immigration status. In such instances, write down the name and badge number of the CBP officer and ask for a receipt for your confiscated property. Contact one of our organizations for help.

Legal Assistance

If your passport, visa, or global entry is revoked, please seek legal assistance to confirm that it was properly revoked or to take action to get it reinstated. In certain cases, passports, visas, or global entry is revoked for discriminatory or accidental reasons and there are remedies available to you.

Travel Tips

  • Be honest. It is important to remain silent or tell the truth. Lying to a federal officer can be a federal crime. Even an accidental lie can lead to a federal criminal charge. For example, if you are asked about travels dates and accidentally give a wrong date, that may constitute lying to a federal officer.
  • Do not sign any documents you do not understand. If you are asked to sign any documents by CBP, it is very important that you understand what you are signing to ensure you are not waiving your rights or immigration status.
  • Ask for an interpreter if you are not fully comfortable communicating in English. If one is not available, tell the agent that you cannot answer questions in English because you don’t understand it well enough.
  • Back up the data on your electronic devices before traveling. Please see the Electronic Frontier Foundation pamphlet Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border: Protecting the Data on Your Devices and in the Cloud.
  • Consider using temporary devices when traveling. If you have to bring your main phone or laptop with you: i) log out of social media and email accounts; ii) check to make sure there is no information on your phone that you would not want an agent to see (e.g. photos, frequently visited websites, contacts); and iii) make sure you completely power down your device before you go in front of the agent (do not just close it or put it in sleep mode).
  • Make sure to use strong passwords on your electronic devices (instead of fingerprint passcodes). Consider encrypting your entire device as well.
  • If you have other questions about your rights, particularly relating to the FBI, please read the following Know Your Rights pamphlet that covers such topics.

CONTACT INFORMATION  

Please contact us with any questions by clicking on the links below. We have Farsi speakers available at all organizations.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus
Iranian American Bar Association
National Iranian American Council
Pars Equality Center

[1] This advisory is intended as a general reference only; it does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, please contact our organizations to speak with an attorney.

[2] Immigration and Nationality Act 287(a)(3) states that CBP agents, without a warrant, may “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States… board and search for aliens in any vessel within the territorial waters of the United States and any railcar, aircraft, conveyance, or vehicle.” The term “reasonable distance” is defined by 8 Code of Federal Regulations 287(a)(1) as 100 air miles from the U.S. border.

[3] Note: In Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington (state), CBP has to have “reasonable suspicion” to conduct a forensic search of a digital device (a detailed search using special equipment).

NIAC Statement on the Trump Administration’s Undermining of the JCPOA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Trita Parsi
Phone: 202 386 6407
Email: tparsi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration re-certifying that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, while the Trump administration itself continues to undermine the agreement:

“While the Trump administration certified Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA with one hand today, it continues to undermine the nuclear accord with the other by undermining the sanctions relief process. Though Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA has been certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as all of our European allies, the same cannot be said of the Trump administration’s fulfillment of its obligations.

“President Trump has already explicitly violated Article 29 of the JCPOA by urging other nations not engage in what is now legal trade with Iran.  Moreover, the Trump administration has deliberately created an environment of uncertainty by consistently questioning the validity of the JCPOA, hinting that the US might quit the agreement, and by suggesting that it might pursue regime change in Iran. This uncertainty has chilled foreign investments into Iran, which was one of the key motivations for Iran to scale back its nuclear program.

“Under Trump, diplomacy has been traded for threats, placing the US and Iran at risk of war once more. Rather than pursuing dialogue with Tehran to resolve remaining disputes, as every one of our European allies have done, the Trump administration has chosen to escalate tensions and eschew opportunities to come to a mutual understanding.

“Through these reckless actions, Trump is gambling with America’s security. The nuclear deal has taken an Iranian nuclear weapons option of the table. By undermining the deal, Trump risks putting it back on the table. That would be a significant blow to US national security.”

 

NIAC Statement on the Unjust Sentencing of US Citizen Xiyue Wang

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Trita Parsi
Phone: 202 386 6407
Email: tparsi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement in response to the sentencing of Princeton doctoral student Xiyue Wang to ten years in prison:

“We condemn the unjust detention and sentencing of Xiyue Wang, a Princeton student conducting research on the Qajar Dynasty in Iran. From the evidence made public by Iran’s Judiciary against Mr. Wang, it appears that his only crime was to read books at a public library. To conflate a historian’s use of a public archive with espionage is absurd. By definition, there are no classified state secrets at public archives. To claim otherwise only shows how bizarre the Iranian judiciary’s definition of security has become.

“Academic exchanges have always persisted in some form despite the tense relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The arrest and detention of Mr. Wang is a direct assault on academic exchange, human rights, and the future of peaceful diplomacy. We call for the release of Mr. Wang as well as that of other dual nationals held by the Iranian judiciary on trumped up charges, such as Siamak Namazi and Baquer Namazi.

“These unjustified detentions tarnish the image of Iran in the eyes of the world. Unfortunately, there are elements in Iran that seek to unjustly arrest Westerners in order to undermine Iran’s economic reintegration into the world because they fear that an end to Iran’s isolation will diminish their grip on the country. In this context, suggestions by the Trump administration that it is seeking regime change in Iran only make matters worse, as it used by repressive elements in Iran to justify and intensify their repression.”

SAG-AFTRA to Recognize Middle Eastern North African (MENA) Actors

Los Angeles – July 7, 2017 – In 2015, Mena Arts Advocacy Coalition (MAAC) began challenging SAG-AFTRA on the subject of MENA (Middle Eastern North African) actors and the struggles they faced surrounding inclusion. This year, SAG-AFTRA leadership took the challenge all the way to the negotiating table during contract discussions with AMPTP and successfully negotiated re-drafting the SAG-AFTRA Casting Dating Report (CDR) in the producer contracts for the first time in 37 years to include Middle Eastern North Africa in its new tentative deal.

Click to view PDF

The recognition and inclusion in the new contracts alongside the previous categories listed (Caucasian, Latin American, African American, Asian American, and Native American/Pacific Islander) is a huge win for MENA communities. Providing support for MENA artists from SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP will help pave the way for potential increases in representation, and help lessen the often-seen stereotypical portrayal of MENA actors. MAAC and its advisory council vigorously applaud SAG-AFTRA leadership and the AMPTP for this inclusion.

 

NIAC Congratulates the P5+1 and Iran on the Two Year Anniversary of the Nuclear Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Trita Parsi
Phone: 202-386-2303
Email: tparsi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, issued the following statement regarding the two year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA):

“We congratulate the United States, Iran, and the P5+1 on their choice to remain committed to peace over war and continue to preserve the landmark nuclear deal reached two years ago. It is a testament that vigilant diplomacy will always outshine militarism.  The JCPOA is perhaps the most important arms control agreement in recent history. It not only prevented war and the spread of nuclear weapons, but it also opened the door for a new all-inclusive security dialogue in the Middle East, which carried the promise of stabilizing the region.

“Unfortunately, however, the JCPOA remains under attack from elements within both countries that prefer conflict over dialogue and mutual suspicion over greater understanding. Continued sanctions, calls from the White House for nations to refrain from investing in Iran, and an increase in military encounters between the US and Iran all threaten the deal. The JCPOA represented an opportunity for the US and Iran to change course, broaden engagement and end the policy of sanctions and antagonism. Unfortunately that opportunity has largely been squandered.

“But it is not only the achievement of the deal that risks to be lost if the attacks on the JCPOA continue. If the deal collapses, the US and Iran will likely once again find themselves on a path towards war. There will be no winners in such a scenario. The world would truly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if it allows the nuclear deal to die.”

 

FAQ: Trump’s Muslim Ban Following the Supreme Court Decision and Directive

The Supreme Court lifted the freeze on some key provisions of the Muslim ban executive order. Afterward, the Trump administration issued a directive with further limitations on Iranians. This could affect you or your loved ones. Please see the following Fact Sheet for key information about the Supreme Court’s ruling and directive.

What part of the Muslim Ban is now in effect?

  • The freeze on Section 2(c) of the second executive order (EO-2), often referred to as the travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen), has been lifted by the Supreme Court in cases where the foreign national has “no connection to the United States at all.”

I am a permanent resident or dual citizen, does this impact me?

  • The decision does not affect Green Card holders or dual citizens traveling on a passport from a country not impacted by the ban.

Who did the Supreme Court say the ban does not currently apply to?

  • The Supreme Court has ordered that the travel ban cannot be enforced against foreign nationals who have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

How has the Trump administration define a “bona fide relationship”?

  • As of the July 18, 2017 Supreme Court decision a bona fide relationship includes: 
    • parent (including parent-in-law)
    • Spouse
    • child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law
    • sibling, whether whole or half including step relationships
    • grandparents or grandchildren
    • aunts or uncles
    • nieces, nephews or cousins
    • brothers-laws and sisters-in-law
    •  fiancés
    • or any other “extended” family members.

Did the Supreme Court define what a “bona fide relationship” means?

  • No. The Supreme Court indicated that a foreign national must show a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Court, however, did not provide guidance on what criteria will guide credibility, and who will be responsible for making these credibility determinations, leaving this at least partially open to the interpretation of the Trump administration.
  • The relationship, however, must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2.”   
  • The Court provided an example of “students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii,” as well as “a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.”

Did the Supreme Court give any examples of a bona fide relationship?

  • The Court said that a “nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to a client list, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion.” In other words, groups cannot disingenuously claim a foreign national as a member just to avoid EO-2.
  • Similarly with respect to refugees, an American individual or entity that has a “bona fide relationship” with a refugee seeking to enter the U.S. will be able to claim a concrete hardship and allow entry for the refugee seeking asylum.

Are there any exceptions?

  • Applicants can apply for a waiver if they can show the suspension would cause undue hardship; or if their entry does not pose a threat to national security and it would be in the national interest. Both of these standards are likely going to be difficult to meet.

Who will enforce these new rules?

  • Officials like Customs and Border Patrol officers will be tasked with deciding which individuals from countries included in the ban have sufficient “bona fide” connections with the United States or whether the relationship was formed just to avoid EO-2.

How long will the ban be in effect?

  • The ban will initially be in place for 90 days beginning on Thursday, June 29. As the administration has indicated, certain countries – including those without formal relations with the United States or who are on the list of designated state sponsors of terrorism, like Iran – would likely be subject to an indefinite ban at the end of the 90 day period via Presidential decree.
  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments against the Muslim ban this fall, likely after the initial 90 day period of the ban, and could either rule against the ban or uphold the administration’s order.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas, with Justices Alito and Gorsuch joining in agreement, stated that it is the Court’s “implicit conclusion that the [Trump administration] has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed” and that the Muslim ban will inevitably be allowed to fully move forward after the eventual decision of the Supreme Court.
  • Congress could rescind the ban immediately via legislation, regardless of the ultimate outcome at the Supreme Court. Urge your Congressman to rescind the ban by taking action here.

If you have specific questions not covered by this FAQ or would like to discuss your specific case, please contact our staff at info at info@niacouncil.org.

Fact Sheet: The Supreme Court Lifts Freeze on Trump’s Muslim Ban

Moments ago, the Supreme Court lifted the freeze on some key provisions of the Muslim ban executive order. This could affect you or your loved ones. Please see the following Fact Sheet for key information about the Supreme Court’s ruling.

  • The freeze on Section 2(c) of the second executive order (EO-2), often referred to as the travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, has been lifted by the Supreme Court in cases where the foreign national has “no connection to the United States at all.”

  • Today’s decision does not affect Green Card holders or dual citizens.
  • The Supreme Court has ordered that the travel ban cannot be enforced against foreign nationals who have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
  • A foreign national must show a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Court, however, did not provide guidance on what criteria will guide credibility, and who will be responsible for making these credibility determinations.
  • The relationship, however, must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2.”

    • The Court provided an example of “students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii,” as well as “a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.”
  • The Court said that a “nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to a client list, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion.” In other words, groups cannot disingenuously claim a foreign national as a member just to avoid EO-2.
  • Similarly with respect to refugees, an American individual or entity that has a “bona fide relationship” with a refugee seeking to enter the U.S. will be able to claim a concrete hardship and allow entry for the refugee seeking asylum.
  • Officials like Customs and Border Patrol officers will be tasked with deciding which individuals from the Muslim majority countries have sufficient “bona fide” connections with the United States or whether the relationship was formed just to avoid EO-2.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas, with Justices Alito and Gorsuch joining in agreement, stated that it is the Court’s “implicit conclusion that the [Trump administration] has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed” and that the Muslim ban will inevitably be allowed to fully move forward after the eventual decision of the Supreme Court.

Visit niacaction.org/stoptrumpsban now to contact Congress!

NIAC Statement on the Torching of Nabra Hassanen’s Memorial

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Adam Weinstein
Phone: (202) 780-9590
Email: aweinstein@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement in response to the setting on fire of Nabra Hassanen’s memorial at Dupont Memorial Fountain after she was brutally murdered on Sunday outside a Virginia mosque: 

“Regardless of whether Nabra’s murder was the result of a hate crime or a heinous act of senseless violence, the reaction to her passing has exposed the depth of Islamophobia in America among an insidious few, and a loud rejection of hate by the majority.”

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson Headlines Iranian American Event In Seattle

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has once-again made its presence felt in Seattle. NIAC, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people, hosted a sold-out downtown fundraiser on Thursday, June 15th; it was NIAC’s first Seattle event in six years.

Ninety plus people gathered at Insignia Towers, home of NIAC Treasurer Saïd Amin, to raise money for the grassroots organization; attendees were also there to show appreciation for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Solicitor General Noah Purcell for their efforts in defeating President Trump’s Muslim ban. Earlier this year, the state Attorney General made national headlines by bringing down the initial travel ban. (Disclaimer, The Iranian is owned by Amin)

Within minutes of the first executive order travel ban being signed, Ferguson’s team prepared to legally challenge it. On February 3, Federal Judge James Robart sided with Washington State (and with Minnesota) and halted Trump’s executive order nationwide.

Thursday’s event, which raised nearly $50,000 was attended by a diverse crowd, including David Sellers from nearby Ballard, WA. When asked what compelled him to attend the event, Sellers, who is not of Iranian descent, said: “Given the the influx of hate crimes and the continued executive efforts to implement a nationwide travel ban, it’s absolutely crucial to step outside myself and understand the issues Iranian Americans and other immigrant communities are facing. I believe that the NIAC fundraiser is a perfect opportunity to do just that.”

After a period of mingling and delicious Persian food served by Zeitoon Grill, the crowd settled in their chairs to hear Trita Parsi, NIAC President, introduce the keynote speaker, Bob Ferguson. In his welcoming remarks, Parsi quipped that he would like to see a Game of Thrones type chess match where Ferguson, who is an internationally rated chess master, would play President Trump to settle the travel ban, once for all.

Ferguson, who was greeted with a standing ovation, spoke about his office’s efforts to defeat the first travel ban. While many assume that it must of been a tough legal decision to file a lawsuit challenging the President, Ferguson said that, “in many respects, it was not a particularly hard decision.”

Shortly after the announcement of the ban, he and Solicitor General Purcell met to discuss the ban and possibly file a lawsuit to challenge the President.

“The questions that Noah (Purcell) and I talked about in that conversation were: Are Washingtonians being harmed? Yea, they had to be harmed (by this travel ban). They can’t travel freely, right? It’s contrary to us as a country, what we stand for as a country, to have a policy like that. Have we learned our lesson from past experiences along these lines, of excluding people rather than welcoming them? That was number one. Number two, do we have good legal arguments? We’re lawyers, right?” He continued, “…we felt that we had good legal arguments. And third was whether I, as attorney general, could bring the lawsuit on behalf of the people, and we felt we could.”

Ferguson went on to say that, at the time, most legal experts felt their case was weak; including prominent legal figures like CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Alan Dershowitz. Yet, they proved many wrong, won the case and dealt the President a legal and political blow.

Ferguson emphasized that we are a nation of laws, a democracy with institutions in place that can survive any administration–including this one. He went on to chide President Trump by saying that, “you can not tweet your way out of a federal courtroom” and that, “those comments that he’s made about the travel ban, for example, hurt him in this case. We quoted his tweets, we quoted his advisors […] and they have hurt him in the courts. So when I say you can’t tweet your way out of it, that’s stuff I’m talking about. It can actually hurt you in the courtroom. So every time you see him say something crazy about the travel ban, yes, be mad about that, but know that it hurts him legally in the courtroom.”

Ferguson concluded with a quick story about his 9 year old twins asking why he was away from home so much, spending countless evenings at work. Ferguson’s reply?  “The President did a bad thing and daddy is trying to stop it.”

The next speaker was Noah Purcell, the fast-rising 37-year-old State Solicitor who Ferguson regards as “the most brilliant lawyer I have worked with.” Purcell, whose Iranian-American wife Jasmin Weaver was in attendance, talked about media coverage of Iran, as well his personal connection and understanding of the Iranian American community.

“So much of the media coverage that we get in this country of Iran is so negative. It’s all about the government, and none of it is about the people or the culture, so to be exposed to the actual culture of Iran, and so many wonderful people from Iran who are our age, we (Jasmin) met in High School so we go way back, was an incredible thing. I learned a lot of little things and I also learned lots of important things, like Jasmin’s ‘cousins’ are not actually her ‘cousins’. ‘Cousin’ does not mean ‘cousin’ apparently.”

Purcell continued, “I also learned some very big things, in particular, that knowing something about a government of a country doesn’t tell you anything about the people, and ironically, I hope that the rest of the world understands this about us.” His last point resonated, prompting the audience to burst into laughter and applauds.

Jamal Abdi, Executive Director of NIAC Action, and Parsi were the next speakers. Each took turns talking up the importance of grassroots participation and fundraising.

Parsi poignantly articulated the cost of sitting on the sidelines. “94.1% of all of the deaths caused by terrorism on US soil have been committed by citizens of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt. Zero by Iranians. Zero by any of the other countries on that were on that list. So why is this happening to us?” He continued,  “I have been working in Capitol Hill and Washington for 15 years now and I can tell you that the politics is not very complex, it’s essentially the law of the jungle, but with some codification. If you don’t stand up for your rights, they will be trampled on. If you don’t guard the dignity of your children, they will be blamed for the errors of others. And if you’re not at the table where decisions are being made, you will be on the menu.”

Thanks to a significant boost in donations, the Washington D.C. headquartered NIAC has recently hired a full time staffer in San Francisco and is scheduled to hire a staffer in Southern California later this fall. Given Thursday’s impressive event, NIAC appears poised to potentially build off this success and expand its presence in the Seattle area. The Iranianasked Abdi about the organization’s growth, to which he replied, “This is about Iranian Americans seizing the moment to reach our political potential. We’re in a moment of great challenges but also immense opportunities to rise to that challenge. We have a chance to organize within one of the most dynamic and resourceful communities in the country to protect not just Iranian Americans, but also other immigrant communities and the rights and values that brought our families to this country in the first place.” 

This piece originally appeared in The Iranian. 

NIAC Statement on Firing of CNN Host Reza Aslan 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: 202-780-9590
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement in response to CNN’s decision to cancel the show “Believer” following Iranian American Reza Aslan’s use of an expletive in response to Trump’s repugnant reaction to the London terror attacks:

“We are extremely disappointed with CNN’s decision to cancel Reza Aslan’s show, “Believer.”  Aslan’s show promotes open dialogue, understanding, and religious tolerance. President Trump represents the very antithesis of those values, and he has consistently exploited human suffering to further his own political agenda against communities of color. Aslan was exercising his First Amendment right to express his personal feelings and opinions about the leader of our country; that freedom is what sets us apart from authoritarian countries. 

“CNN’s decision raises concerns about a double standard when it comes to communities of color. Following national outrage – even from CNN anchor Don Lemon – the network refused to fire Jeffrey Lord, who referred to Trump as the Martin Luther King of healthcare. CNN similarly did not hesistate to hire Corey Lewandowski following allegations of assault, and refused to fire him when it was revealed that he was still receiving compensation from the Trump campaign.

“The same First Amendment which protects CNN’s freedom of press, also protects Reza Aslan’s right to use his own platform and his own Twitter account to express his own views of the President. CNN’s firing of Aslan for his personal opinions amounts to censorship of dissenting views about the president – plain and simple. The network expressed no hesitancy to widely broadcast President Trump’s use of expletives and did not fire contributors who repeated those expletives on air. 

“Aslan’s firing seriously calls into question the sliding scale of morality apparently being utilized in the hiring or firing of on-air personalities by CNN. Silencing one of the only Iranian-American voices in American news media, an individual who utilizes his platform to advance peace, reconciliation, and understanding, further reveals that CNN values ratings over fact-finding and truth. NIAC and the Iranian-American community unapologetically stand behind Reza Aslan.”

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