FAQ on Recent Supreme Court Decision on Muslim Ban 3

What Does Yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision Mean?

The Supreme Court issued a stay of the injunctions in the 9th Circuit and the 4th Circuit. What that means is that they have halted, or vacated, the lower courts’ blocks on the ban – or in other words, the Trump administration may temporarily enforce Muslim Ban 3.0. The Supreme Court did NOT make a determination on the merits of the cases or the constitutionality of the Muslim ban, so this is NOT a “final decision.” The case will still be heard in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on December 6th, our case will still be heard by the 4th Circuit in Richmond on December 8th, and there will be a decision by the two Courts of Appeal. If we get favorable decisions, the government may then appeal to the Supreme Court to make a final determination about the constitutionality of Muslim Ban 3.0.

My Family Member Has a Visa and is Scheduled to Travel to the U.S. How Will This Impact Them?

If your family member has a valid visa that has already been issued to them, that visa will not be revoked under Muslim Ban 3.0. However, it is important to note that a valid visa does not guarantee them entry. We fully expect that valid visa holders will be permitted to enter absent some other circumstances, but a risk of being blocked from entry does exist. Note, if you have been approved for a visa but are not in physical possession of it, your visa may now be rejected under the implementation of Muslim Ban 3.0.

It is a good idea to advise your family member to keep a phone nearby and to call you if they are facing any difficulties with entry into the United States. In the event that your family member has a valid visa and is detained or turned back at the airport, we urge you to contact NIAC immediately and notify us. Remember, if you or your family member has a green card or is a U.S. citizen, Muslim Ban 3.0 DOES NOT affect green card holders and U.S. citizens. If you are a dual national of Iran and another country, you will still be constrained by the HR158 Visa Waiver law which requires you to have a valid visa to enter the United States.

*** It is critically important to know your rights at the airport. For further information please consult this advisory: Know Your Rights at the Airport and the Border

Who is Currently Banned?

Unless you are applying for an F, M, or J visa as a student or visitor exchange, all visas (both immigrant and non-immigrant) are suspended indefinitely.

If you are covered by the ban while it is in effect, you may be able to apply for a hardship waiver under Muslim Ban 3.0 at the time of the visa interview. There is no set form or process for applying for case-by-case waivers, but generally, you could provide a letter to the consular official outlining:
1) Why denying entry into the U.S. would cause an undue hardship
2) That entry would not pose a national security threat or threat to public safety
3) Entry would be in the national interest of the United States
Muslim Ban 3.0 could be blocked again, so it is critical to continue checking NIAC’s website and communications for the latest updates on our case before the 4th Circuit, and for updates on the current status of the Muslim Ban as a whole.

Do I Still Need to Prove a Bona Fide Relationship?

The ‘bona fide relationship’ standard does not apply after the initial October 18 deadline under Muslim Ban 3.0. All immigrant and non-immigrant visas to Iranian nationals are suspended with the exception of F, M and J visas, and case-by-case waivers granted by consular officers.

How Long Will the Ban be in Effect under the SCOTUS Order?

Under its terms, the Supreme Court’s Order will terminate once a Court of Appeals strikes down Muslim Ban 3.0 and it is appealed to the Supreme Court. Whether or not the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, yesterday’s Order allowing the Trump administration to enforce Muslim Ban 3.0 will terminate automatically. If the Courts do not side with the Plaintiffs, then the Court of Appeals decisions upholding the Muslim ban will control until the Plaintiffs appeal to the Supreme Court.

In short, the Muslim Ban will not disappear this year or next year, and we will need to continue fighting back against all aspects of this overarching policy objective of this administration: to ban Muslims, and by and large, Iranians. It remains unclear whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case in the event plaintiffs are victorious in the Court of Appeal, or if they will allow the decisions of the Courts of Appeal to stand without intervention.

How Can I Help Defeat This Discriminatory Ban?

Tell Congress to stop Trump’s Muslim ban by clicking here and taking action today.

NIAC Frustrated with Muslim Ban Being Allowed Back into Effect

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org
Phone: (407) 408-0494

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (“NIAC”) issued the following statement on the heels of a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States moments ago to lift injunctions in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, allowing the Trump administration to implement the embattled third version of the president’s Muslim ban pending appeals:

“We are deeply frustrated with the Supreme Court decision today allowing the third version of the Muslim ban to go back into effect. While we understand this is not a decision on the merits, every month since the inception of the Muslim ban in January, members of the Iranian-American community and other affected communities have remained in legal limbo and have been forced to ride an exhausting emotional roller coaster that has kept families apart. There have been brief windows of opportunity for the affected communities to apply for visas on behalf of their spouses, fiancés, grandmothers and grandfathers and other close family to join them in the United States, only to have that window shut just as quickly.

“The unintended consequences of varying court decisions may unfortunately be shared with the original intent of the Muslim ban: to discourage Muslims and Iranian Americans from traveling to the United States. Iranians, who have been told to quickly apply for visas and pay related fees while the Muslim ban was enjoined by the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, now have to relive the painful reality that they are unwanted in America – that they are viewed as inherently dangerous and, potentially in the future, would be viewed as second class citizens. NIAC cannot in good conscience continue to advise members of our community that their family members should continue paying visa fees and submitting applications for visas while the risk of being banned still exists.

“Our recommendation to Iranian-Americans whose family members might be seeking visas is to not apply for visas until a Supreme Court decision is made on the merits. Be advised, even if individuals are in possession of a valid visa that is not an M, F, or J visa, they may still be blocked from entering the United States.

“Iranians should be aware that they may not be allowed to enter the U.S. as a result of this decision, even if they travel on a valid U.S. visa.

“Days from now, oral arguments will be heard in the respective appellate courts. We remain optimistic that the judges in the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal will agree that the third version of the Muslim ban suffers from the same unconstitutional taint as the president’s first two attempts.”

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BREAKING: IAAB v. Trump Team Praises Ruling Blocking Muslim Ban 3.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
CONTACT: Yasmina Dardari | +1 407 922 8149 |
 yasmina@unbendablemedia.com 

Washington, D.C. – Early this morning, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a ruling in Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump,blocking the Trump administration from implementing Muslim Ban 3.0, which was scheduled to go into full effect today.  Judge Chuang’s ruling follows a hearing on Monday afternoon in his courtroom where the plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump as well as two other related actions, requested a preliminary injunction.

In today’s ruling, which temporarily halts the implementation of the President’s order, Judge Chuang determined that Muslim Ban 3.0 likely violates the U.S. Constitution and federal immigration law.  Judge Chuang relied on the long litany of anti-Muslim statements and comments by President Trump, concluding that this latest version is an “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.”

The plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump are represented by Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Covington & Burling LLP, in consultation with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).  

According to Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council: “We applaud the court’s decision in blocking this unconstitutional third attempt at a Muslim Ban.  This latest travel ban is little more than a dangerous effort to target Iranians and Muslims, unjustified by any credible national security concerns. The ban will have a real impact on real people’s lives, robbing families of moments they can never get back. The National Iranian American Council is resolute in seeing this hateful and unconstitutional policy never becomes law.”

According to Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates: “Today’s ruling reaffirms that religious discrimination and bigotry have no place in our country.  We applaud Judge Chuang for recognizing that Muslim Ban 3.0 contravenes fundamental American values and does not make our country safer.  We, however, are well aware that our work is not finished. We will continue to advocate against this unjust and discriminatory policy until it is finally and permanently relegated to the dustbin of history.

“So, for today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we continue the fight.”

According to Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders: “Today is such a proud day for youth we serve at IAAB. When our members connect with family members, friends and community members from across the Iranian diaspora, it changes futures, enriches lives, and roots them in a meaningful sense of community and responsibility. Our youth spoke up in court and they won. When grounded in community and sense of justice, the young people of IAAB can even beat the most powerful man in the world.

“We know that the ban is not totally gone and that graduations, weddings, and family gatherings will continue to be interrupted, and that our youth will continue to face harassment and hostility. So we will continue to speak out against the ban and religious discrimination in all its forms.”

According to Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United:“The Muslim ban in all its versions has never been about making America safer or protecting our people. It’s about discrimination, plain and simple. The ban violates fairness and equal treatment—concepts that are at the core of religious freedom. We’re pleased that the courts have once again recognized that fact.”   

Judge Chuang’s ruling follows a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of Muslim Ban 3.0 issued by Hawaii Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii v. Trump yesterday afternoon.

For more information, or for interview with a National Iranian American Council legal expert, please contact Yasmina Dardari at 407-922-8149 or by email at yasmina@unbendablemedia.com.

###

The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people.

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. 

Iranian Alliances Across Borders is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 2003. IAAB addresses issues of the Iranian diaspora by facilitating community building, developing ways to better understand what it means to be part of a diaspora community, and empowering members of the Iranian diaspora community to enhance connections with their new communities as well as maintain connections with their root community.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

What you need to know about Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0

The Question & Answers page is designed to answer all your questions in regards to Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0. If there are questions that are not listed here, please contact NIAC’s Legal Counsel Shayan Modarres at smodarres@niacouncil.org. Please note that this page will be continuously updated as the situation evolves.

Who is Affected by Muslim Ban 3.0?

The entry of immigrants from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad and North Korea are suspended indefinitely.

The entry of nonimmigrants from Iran is also suspended, with the exception of student visas (F and M visas), or exchange visitor visas (J visas). Travelers entering under these three visa categories will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.

Certain nonimmigrants from Chad, Libya, Yemen and Venezuela will be permitted to enter, and Somali nationals will be subject to additional scrutiny.

The entry of nonimmigrants from Syria and North Korea is suspended without exception.

Will Green Card Holders Be Affected?

Under the terms of the proclamation, entry suspensions will not apply to lawful permanent residents of the United States, commonly referred to as LPR’s or Green Card holders. The suspension of entry will also not apply to persons inside the U.S. or persons with valid visas before October 18, and travelers with other travel documents such as a transportation letter or advance parole document. The language of the proclamation is unclear whether the exception under Section 6(c), providing that valid visas will not be retroactively revoked, will allow travelers to enter or will simply allow them to maintain valid visas while still being barred from entry.

How Will Muslim Ban 3.0 Affect Dual Nationals?

Dual nationals who are traveling on a passport issued by a country other than the eight covered countries will not be affected. So if you are a citizen of an EU country, for example, and also hold an Iranian passport, as long as you are entering the United States on a passport issued by the EU country you will not be affected by the proclamation. However, nationals of the eight banned countries under Muslim Ban 3.0 will still need a valid F, M, or J visa. Dual Iranian nationals with visas issued prior to October 18 will not have their visas revoked, but it remains to be seen whether they will be permitted to enter the United States, as the language of the proclamation is unclear on this point.

The Proclamation Says That Visas Will Not Be Revoked. But Will Visa Holders Be Able to Enter the U.S. if They, For Instance, Possess a Non-Student or Exchange Visa That Was Issued Before This Proclamation?

The language of the proclamation is unclear on this point. Under Section 6(c), valid visas issued prior to October 18 will not be revoked. However, it remains to be seen whether travelers possessing valid visas issued prior to October 18, that are not F, M, or J visas, will be permitted to enter.

My Fiancee is Awaiting Her Visa and She is Scheduled For an Interview. She is an Iranian National. How Does This Affect Our Situation?

Under the language of the Proclamation, as long as a valid visa is issued and possessed by the traveler before midnight on October 18, 2017, the proclamation will not affect that person. So if your fiance does not have her interview, and does not get her visa in hand prior to October 18, they will not be permitted to enter. After October 18, no Iranian travelers will be permitted entry unless they are entering as a green card holder, or they have a valid F, M, or J class visa. The language of the proclamation is unclear whether the exception under Section 6(c), providing that valid visas will not be retroactively revoked, will allow travelers to enter or will simply allow them to maintain valid visas while still being barred from entry.

My Aunt Is a Dual Citizen and She Just Got Her Visa. Will She Be Affected?

Generally, dual citizens are not affected by Muslim Ban 3.0 if they are traveling on a passport issued by a country other than the eight banned countries. Also, as long as she has a valid visa issued prior to the October 18 effective date, then she is exempt from the ban of entry under Section 6 of the proclamation. Please note, however, the language of the proclamation is unclear whether the exception under Section 6(c), providing that valid visas will not be retroactively revoked, will allow travelers to enter or will simply allow them to maintain valid visas while still being barred from entry. This remains to be seen.

My Iranian Grandmother Usually Visits Us Every Two Years. She Gets a Tourist Visa. Does This Mean That She Will Not Be Able to Come Anymore?

In short, she will not be able to enter the United States going forward. The entry of all non-immigrant Iranian nationals, including visitors and tourists, is suspended indefinitely and there is no set expiration date for Muslim Ban 3.0.

What Happens to the Existing Lawsuits Against Trump’s Original Muslim ban? Are they All Irrelevant Now? Can a New Legal Challenge Be Brought Against This Ban?

The cases before the Supreme Court challenging Executive Order 13780 are likely not moot, and will proceed with oral arguments scheduled on October 10th. New legal challenges against the current Muslim Ban 3.0 proclamation can be filed and are likely to be filed. NIAC is actively exploring the possibility of bringing litigation to challenge it.

Is This Permanent? Will Banned Classes of Iranians Never Be Able to Come As a Result of This Ban?

Muslim Ban 3.0 does not have a set expiration date and is indefinite by its terms. NIAC is actively pursuing all legal remedies, including a lawsuit seeking judicial intervention to prevent the administration from implementing the ban. We are also actively working to challenge the administrative Muslim ban that has been implemented through “extreme vetting” measures since May that have sent visas issued to Iranian nationals plummeting. NIAC will continue to work tirelessly to prevent this ban from perpetual implementation.

New Muslim Ban Imminent

Travelers, and family members of travelers from countries targeted under the Muslim ban, should be prepared for possible confusion, delay, and disruption as a result of a new Muslim ban that may be unveiled this weekend.

According to our information, the Trump administration’s Muslim ban targeting Iran and five other Muslim-majority countries could be replaced with a new ban as early as today. Details of the newest version of the Muslim ban are still unknown, but according to reports, restrictions could differ on a country-by-country basis. Additionally, the Muslim ban 3.0 is expected to be expanded to target travelers from other countries such as Central America or South Asia.

NIAC is continuing to monitor the situation and is working closely with partner advocacy groups to respond effectively to any new Muslim ban. We encourage all travelers and family members of travelers to read our Know Your Rights resource to ensure that you are fully informed of your rights at U.S. airports across the country. A Farsi version of the Know Your Rights is also available here.

If you believe your rights have been violated or you have questions about the Muslim ban 3.0, please contact me via email at: smodarres@niacouncil.org.

Sunday marks the conclusion of the 90-day policy review period under the original version of the travel ban. If the Trump Administration does issue a new Muslim ban, it may have a significant impact on the Supreme Court case – and the articulated “bona fide relationship” standard – ahead of the October 10 oral argument. The specific impact of a Muslim ban 3.0 is still unclear as we have yet to obtain text of a reported replacement ban.

NIAC will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

Shayan Modarres, Esq.
Legal Counsel

NIAC Condemns Trump’s Immoral DACA Decision

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the Trump administration decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program today – a program with bipartisan support that has been wildly successful in every meaningful and measurable way. 

“Today will be judged as one of the most reprehensible days in American history,” said Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for the National Iranian American Council. “President Trump’s issuance of executive orders to ban Muslims from the United States, and removal of protections for DREAMers – that know no other home but America and are now confronted with dehumanizing uncertainty – is not draining the swamp, it is dumping the greatness of America down the drain.” 

In taking this immoral action, President Trump is removing protections for nearly 800,000 DACA recipients whose futures are now full of uncertainty and who could possibly face deportation. DACA recognized that these individuals are human beings and more American than a piece of paper could ever recognize. 

“As a community of recent immigrants, Iranian Americans are very familiar with confronting anti-immigrant sentiments and policies,” said Modarres. “In fact, we are still fighting against the Muslim ban and its multiple components like ‘extreme vetting.’”

Since 2010, NIAC has advocated for Congress to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. DREAMers include Iranians like Mohammad Abdollahi, an undocumented immigrant who was denied entrance into college despite qualifying credentials. 

“Iranian Americans across the United States not only stand with DREAMers in unwavering solidarity, we quite literally are DREAMers,” said Modarres.  “We will not allow the Trump administration to take us backwards as a nation – we will not allow him to destroy centuries of steady American progress in a matter of months.”

NIAC calls on Congress to immediately pass legislation that will protect DREAMers and provide for a pathway to citizenship. NIAC further urges our elected representatives to resist any invitation to use these inspirational young people as a political bargaining chip – Congress must do the right thing and immediately act to protect these young people. 

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).

Despite Legal Blows, Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Alive And Well

There is an old legal adage that says, “If the law is on your side, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If neither is on your side, pound the table and create a diversion.” When it comes to Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, neither the law nor facts were ever on his side. But the ongoing litigation and recent Supreme Court decision are being used as a smoke and mirrors diversion for the actual Muslim ban that is currently being implemented behind the curtain. Civil rights groups are now following the administration’s paper trail, which may trigger a new round of litigation to defeat Trump’s Muslim ban.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” which is exactly what Trump called for, is likely unconstitutional. After several months of litigation, the first and second attempts at a Muslim ban were stricken down by a number of U.S. District Court judges, and those decisions have been upheld by an en banc panel of judges in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And just this week, the Supreme Court decided that it will hear the Muslim ban case and disappointingly allowed key provisions of the ban to be implemented, placing the status of many Americans’ families into question once again. 

In a desperate search for a cheap political win, President Trump has tried to nonsensically tether his Muslim ban to national security. But the national security justifications for a Muslim ban have proven to be farcical and devoid of any basis in reality. The CATO Institute has found that not one person – including refugees – from the seven Muslim-majority countries listed in President Trump’s initial Muslim ban has killed anyone in a terror attack on U.S. soil in about a half century.

During the same time, only 17 people have been convicted of participating in or attempting a terror attack. This means that an American living in the United States today has about a one in 3.6 million, or .00003 percent chance of being killed by a terror attackcarried out by a foreigner. 

President Trump’s targeting of Muslims in this disgraceful episode in American history has – in a very literal sense – made America less safe.  The Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual census of hate groups in the United States found that the number of anti-Muslim hate groups tripled from 34 in 2015, to 101 last year. In 2015, Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president. FBI data for 2015 reports 257 incidents of hate crimes against Muslims, a 67 percent rise from the prior year. The right-wing extremism and demagoguery peddled by Trump has made over three million American Muslims less safe in the United States.

With neither the facts nor the law on his side, Trump is using Twitter to “pound on the table,” control the news cycle, and divert attention from the Muslim ban that has already begun. In effect, victories in court have given the American people the impression that the Muslim ban has been defeated, but in reality, visa officials have been carrying it out – administratively – for over a month.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a series of four internal cables in March to visa-issuing posts overseas. Among the directives, visa officers would subject nationals of the six Muslim-majority countries to mandatory Security Advisory Opinions (SAO), which is comparable to the inter-agency background checks that U.S. government employee undergo prior to obtaining a security clearance. In addition, visa applicants may be asked “extreme vetting” supplemental questions about their travel history – both domestic and international – for the past 15 years as well as being required to document the funding for said travel, employment and residential history, and social media identifiers and handles.

The goal? Imposing a special additional layer of scrutiny just for Muslim visa-applicants, making it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for them to get a visa.

And it appears to be working. According to Politico, visas issued to Iranians plummeted by 52 percent in April compared to the average monthly rate last year. The number of visas issued to nationals of all Muslim-majority countries dropped by about 20 percentacross in the board.

Legal challenges were initially successful in blocking Part One of the Muslim ban – the executive orders – prior to the Supreme Court allowing key provisions of the ban to be implemented. Part Two – the “extreme vetting” pathway – further widens the floodgates, giving the Trump administration two viable paths to fulfilling his campaign promise of banning Muslims.

While many are fixated on the fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision to allow parts of the executive order to move forward, some groups have already begun exploring a second wave of legal challenges to the “extreme vetting” Muslim ban. The National Iranian American Council last week sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of State seeking documents about how “extreme vetting” is being interpreted, implemented, and enforced.

The solution to blocking the backdoor Muslim ban is simple: Members of Congress could pass legislation to block both layers of the Muslim ban and forego the need for further judicial intervention and administrative uncertainty. If Congress’ failure to do its job continues, groups challenging the ban will investigate the administration’s paper trail and take the appropriate action to obstruct any Muslim ban from becoming the official policy of the United States of America. 

If documents show that visa applicants from Muslim-majority countries are disproportionately being subjected to mandatory SAO processes, “extreme vetting” supplemental questions, and being denied visas based on an unconstitutional basis, a second wave of complaints will soon be filed in courts across the country seeking to permanently put an end to the Muslim ban in its entirety – in addition to the inevitable new legal challenges stemming from the Supreme Court’s newly established “bona fide relationship” standard.

As long as Congress forfeits its responsibility to preserve and protect the most fundamental American ideals, the American people will continue to serve as a barrier to demagoguery. But it would sure be nice to have a little help from our missing elected officials.

This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

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!

Republican Senator Collins: Muslim Ban is “Not the Right Way to Go.”

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s outrageous tweetstorms following the recent terrorist attacks on London, a fissure may finally be developing between the Trump administration and certain Republican lawmakers over Trump’s Muslim ban.

Following both of Trump’s attempts to ban visas for Iranians and other targeted countries, nearly every single Democrat in Congress has sponsored legislation to repeal and defund the ban. But not one Republican has joined that effort and instead the President’s party has largely given its silent imprimatur for the ban. However, this is beginning to change.

Early this week, President Trump took to Twitter to express his frustrations, writing, “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” He continued to send a barrage of tweets, stating that “the Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban” rather than the “watered down, politically correct version they submitted [to the Supreme Court].”

This past weekend, it was evident that Trump’s Republican colleagues are starting to break with him. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both spoke to the press this weekend, arguing that a travel ban is not the best course of action for United States security. During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Senator Blunt noted, “It’s been four months since I said they needed four months to put that [extreme vetting] in place…I think you can do that without a travel ban and hopefully we are.” Similarly, while discussing the ban on “Face the Nation”, Senator Collins stated that while she supports a more rigorous vetting process, she does “believe that the very broad ban that [Trump] has proposed is not the right way to go.”

Collins has voiced her opposition to Trump and his policies since before the election. In January, she asserted that “there should never, never be a religious test for refugee status and people practicing a particular religion should not be subject to a higher burden of proof than those who adhere to another religion,” and referred to the policy as “likely unconstitutional.” But many in the Republican caucus expressed opposition during the presidential campaign to Trump’s calls for a Muslim ban. Everyone from Paul Ryan to Mike Pence criticized Trump’s pledge to ban Muslims as a candidate, but most have changed their tune since he was elected.

These new statements illustrate that perhaps we are approaching a breaking point and, at least for some Republicans, they have had enough.  Still, while these comments against the ban are a step in the right direction, no Republican has supported legislative action to actually halt the ban. And they have not yet said anything about the administration’s effort to create a framework to systematically discriminate against Muslims – effectively a “backdoor” Muslim ban that is being put in place.

The existing vetting process for obtaining a US immigration visa is already highly extensive and can take months to complete. Trump’s new “extreme vetting” proposal now in place aims to correct this allegedly inadequate system by ensuring that all new immigrants “share our values.” This includes measures such as providing five years worth of social media history. Since the president has made it clear that he believes “there is no real assimilation” with Muslim immigrants, this extreme vetting program seems to serve as a means to drive down the number of people from a Muslim background in the United States, rather than keeping out terrorists.  It is imperative that congressional Republicans and Democrats alike ensure that extreme vetting is not used as a cover for reaching the same ends as the travel ban.

4th Circuit Issues Biggest Blow Yet to Trump’s Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: 202 386-6325
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C.  –– The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement in response to the decision today by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the lower court nationwide freeze of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban:

“The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) applauds the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the lower court ruling. While fundamental American values of liberty and freedom were under attack by the Executive branch with complicity from the Legislative branch of government, the Judicial branch intervened and upheld the promise of America.

“In the wake of January 27, 2017, the day that will be remembered in history as the day America imposed a Muslim ban, Iranian-Americans became a community in crisis. In almost any airport across the country, you could find absolute chaos, phones ringing off the hook, lawyers huddled around on the ground rushing to type up habeus motions, hundreds of demonstrators, and hundreds of thousands of people in a state of confusion. NIAC, Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), and Pars Equality Center took on the role of first responders for our community.

“When we filed our lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Muslim ban in court, we set out with the goal of completely dismantling what we believed was an unconstitutional and unabashed attempt by the President to fulfill a campaign promise of banning Muslims from our country.

“The product of a hurried effort to get a cheap political win for the President, written by shockingly inexperienced and unqualified advisors in the White House, resulted in an executive order that was almost immediately enjoined by the courts as likely unconstitutional.

“The second attempt at a Muslim ban did not fare much better, being enjoined by United States District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland.

“While dozens of challenges to the Muslim ban were filed, the Iranian American community was the community most impacted by the ban – we stood unified and filed our own lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban. Inspired by the stories of Iranian individuals that we spent hours talking to and drafting declarations on behalf of, we meticulously developed a factual record of ongoing harm to our community. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan granted our communities’ request to present live testimony, and we became the first case in the country to provide the court with in-person testimony about how this ban affected our community.

“While Judge Chutkan ultimately exercised judicial restraint in favor of the two nationwide injunctions already in place, she too was “inclined to agree” with the Iranian-American community that this executive order was unconstitutional.

“We are pleased with the outcome, but recognize that there is no time to breathe a sigh of relief as long as this administration decides that it wants to continue down the path of targeting Iranians and Muslims – and as long as Congress passively allows for the erosion of our country’s values and institutions. We are fully prepared to fight relentlessly, for as long as it takes, until we are viewed not as the “other,” but as Americans.”

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