NIAC Encouraged By Hawaii Ruling Blocking Muslim Ban 3.0

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is encouraged by the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii in the case of Hawaii v. Trump, blocking the September 24 Proclamation, more commonly known as Muslim Ban 3.0, from going into effect, nationwide.

In granting a nationwide Temporary Restraining Order to the plaintiffs, Judge Derrick Watson opined that the plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of success against the newest version of the travel ban.

“Banning more than 150 million people based on nationality and faith is not only a dangerous and incoherent national security policy, it lacks any credible support in the facts or the Constitution,” said Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council. “We agree with Judge Watson that an individuals country of origin is not a reliable indicator of their propensity for terrorism or inherent dangerousness. We will continue to confront and combat every version of the Muslim Ban that President Trump draws up until he abandons this racist and xenophobic campaign promise to his base.”

NIAC Deplores Trump’s Push to Violate Iran Nuclear Deal

 

 

 

Washington, DC – Dr. 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 in response to President Trump’s speech withholding certification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:

“Trump’s speech was a national disgrace. This isn’t an effort to stiff a contractor over a real estate project, it’s a matter of war and peace. Donald Trump is in way over his head.

“Contrary to the reporting, Donald Trump is killing the deal – not in one move, but in several moves. First, Congress will attempt to kill it through deal-killing legislation from Tom Cotton. If that is blocked, Trump has vowed to kill it himself. Either way, the deal will get killed by this process triggered by Trump.

“Cotton’s legislation would seek to unilaterally rewrite the nuclear deal, an unequivocal violation of the agreement. A vote for that bill would be as significant as a vote for the 2002 war with Iraq.

“Trump is single handedly destroying U.S. credibility and all but guaranteeing that no country in their right mind would agree to a deal with the U.S. again. The U.S. has shredded alliances through go-it-alone approaches before, to disastrous effect. Trump’s has reduced America’s allies on Iran to just Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi royal family. Trump’s ‘coalition of the willing’ on Iran makes George W. Bush’s old coalition on Iraq look like a diplomatic masterstroke.

“The most insulting of Trump’s lies was when he sought to pass himself off as a champion of the Iranian people. As we speak, Trump is banning nearly all Iranians from the United States. The majority of people targeted by Trump’s Muslim ban are Iranian. Iranian Americans are being cut off from their family members in Iran thanks to Trump.

“Congress must step in and make it clear that it will restrain this President and that the U.S. is fully committed to upholding its word on the Iran deal.”

###

Trump Risks War with Iran through Reckless Nuclear Deal Decision

Washington, DC – 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 in response to President Trump’s failed certification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:

“Trump’s failed certification of the Iran nuclear deal is a politically motivated and self-destructive act that risking undoing years of careful diplomatic efforts. The fact that Trump is backing down from asking Congress to immediately snap-back nuclear sanctions is of little comfort. U.S. credibility is already in question thanks to the President’s antics leading up to his decision and the nuclear deal still remains in jeopardy.

“Any effort to unilaterally extort other countries of the P5+1 to renegotiate the deal and change the goalpost is a violation of the deal, by definition. It doesn’t matter what fancy words are used to describe the process, in reality it is nothing short of the U.S. reneging on its word.

“Trump has failed to commit that the U.S. will stay true to its word and abide by the deal. He has kicked the issue down to Congress with instructions to attempt to coerce our allies as well as Iran to reopen the painstaking negotiations that took 12 years to conclude. Extortion is not a sound diplomatic strategy and the President’s actions on this issue have significantly weakened his hand. 

“This opens the door for Iran to respond in kind by also threatening to renege on is commitments lest the U.S. gives it additional concessions. This is a recipe for disaster. The deal can not survive these attacks on it, triggered by Trump’s decertification. 

“In effect, Trump’s advisers forced the President to eat his vegetables in order to be served dessert. He doesn’t get to tear the deal up today, but he is demanding that Congress take actions that would tear up the deal on his behalf. So far, similar to the effort to destroy Obamacare, Trump has discovered that his fellow critics of the agreement have no real alternative. If Trump has succeeded at anything, it has been his ability to accidentally call the bluff of his colleagues on the Hill. On this issue of war and peace, cooler heads must prevail in Congress. 

“Notably, one of the areas where Trump has apparently backed down is on designating the IRGC as a terrorist group, a move long opposed by the Pentagon but fervently supported by hawkish Washington organizations. It appears that there are still some adults in the room who were willing to convince the President to back down on a move that would have put U.S. troops in danger and united opposing factions inside of Iran to the detriment of moderate interests.

“Unfortunately, in Washington it still sounds like the threat of war with Iran is returning. Sen. Tom Cotton is the apparent brainchild of Trump’s new approach, and Cotton has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran. Cotton and even experts testifying at Congressional committees in recent days have been encouraging lawmakers to prepare for strikes on the Iranian homeland. The hard work to stabilize the nuclear accord and forestall war with Iran will continue in the months ahead, and the Iranian-American community will be at the forefront of that effort.”

“If the accord continues to unravel, the U.S. and Iran will be back on the path to war. As former Secretary of State John Kerry warned earlier this year, prior to the deal ‘Leaders in the region were saying to me personally, and to the president, President Obama, you should bomb these guys.’ The Obama administration wisely stepped back from the nuclear brink and invested in diplomacy. Now, Trump appears to be inching back towards that brink and it will be up to Congress to stop him.”

###

Memo: Potential Economic Fallout of a U.S. Exit from the JCPOA

If Congress re-imposes nuclear sanctions on Iran under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) the United States could be forced to sanction our closest allies in Europe and Asia. This would have profound negative consequences on the transatlantic alliance and with other nations that would be vital for any effort to negotiate a deal regarding North Korea. Similar risks would accompany a potential legislative effort to dramatically escalate non-nuclear sanctions effectively re-imposing sanctions lifted under the accord under a separate justification. Potential consequences will include:

  1. Alienating allies by targeting some of their foremost companies with secondary sanctions for their continued trade with Iran that was envisioned under the JCPOA.
  2. Engaging in a trade war with our closest allies, who could retaliate against the U.S. economy or protect their own companies from U.S. sanctions.
  • The E.U. Ambassador to the U.S., David O’Sullivan, recently said “the European Union will act to protect the legitimate interests of our companies with all the means at our disposal.” In this scenario sanctions would only punish U.S. businesses without producing a significant economic impact on Iran.

3. Elevating the economic and security influence of Russia and China in the region.
4. Precipitating a decline in the use of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The use of the dollar underpins the bite behind U.S. multilateral sanctions and provides significant financial benefits to the U.S. economy.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned about this in 2016 when he said “if foreign jurisdictions and companies feel that we will deploy sanctions without sufficient justification or for inappropriate reasons—secondary sanctions in particular—we should not be surprised if they look for ways to avoid doing business in the United States or in U.S. dollars.”

5. India, South Korea, and Turkey are already implementing policies to use their own currency in transactions with Iran.
6. Removing economic incentives for Iran not to pursue a nuclear weapons program that it is not currently pursuing.

The re-imposition of sanctions or alternatively a comprehensive non-nuclear sanctions package would place the U.S. in a conundrum. If the sanctions effectively block our allies from investing in Iran this will severely damage our partnerships and if our sanctions do not have a secondary effect, then we will essentially be sanctioning our own economy with little impact on Iran. On this point it is important to note that re-imposition of sanctions could upset a Boeing deal worth $41.6 billion when leasing and purchasing are combined, and that Boeing claims will support 100,000 U.S. jobs.  Below you can find a partial list of recently completed and ongoing investment into Iran that could be impacted by decertification and U.S. sanctions.

To see our report please see the following:

Memo Potential Economic Fallout of a U.S. Exit from the JCPOA

Orgs Urge U.S. Government to Allow Apple and Google to Host Iranian Apps

Washington, DC – NIAC and a group of Iranian American and human rights organizations are urging the U.S. government to lift restrictions that have recently prevented Iranians from hosting apps on the Apple and Google app stores.

In a Letter to Sec. Tillerson & Mnuchin sent today to the State and Treasury Department, the organizations officially requested that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reconsider the scope of the current licensing policies that affect Iranian developers whose apps have been removed from Apple and Google app stores.

On August 24, 2017,  it was reported that Apple began removing applications developed by Iranians from its mobile app store. Within a week, Google had taken similar action. Iranians reacted by taking their frustrations to social media, with the trending hashtag #StopRemovingIranianApps. Many tweeted in English during Apple’s annual iOS event to gain the attention of Apple CEOs to bring attention to this issue. Yaser Bahrami, an Iranian app developer, tweeted: “Today, Apple is the first enemy of iranian [sic] iOS developers. We are developing software not nuclear weapon.” Another user, an Iranian computer engineer named Payam, said this removal of Iranian apps from Apple and Google stores made it seem as if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) never even happened.

While much of the backlash was directed at Apple and Google, the removal of apps was likely due to the existing U.S. trade embargo on Iran. Companies like Google and Apple have begun allowing Iranians to access and download software in recent years,. following the Obama Administration’s decision to exempt communications technology from the Iran embargo. The companies had also hosted apps by Iranian developers on those platforms until recently. That may be because, while the exemption allows for software to be exported to Iranians, it does not necessarily apply to the hosting of Iranian apps. It is unclear if recent threats by Donald Trump to abandon the nuclear deal may have prompted companies to reevaluate their policies regarding Iran, but their interpretation that they are barred from hosting such apps may be correct. A fix may only be possible if the Treasury and State Department broaden the exemption to allow the hosting of Iranian apps, as urged in the organization’s’ letter.

In addition to NIAC, the letter was sent by Access Now, ASL19, Center for Human Rights in Iran, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Iranian American Bar Association, PARS Equality Center, Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans and United4Iran.

The full text of the letter is below:

October 11, 2017

Dear Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mnuchin:

We are writing to raise concerns regarding recent events in which Apple and Google appear to have deleted mobile applications (“apps”) developed by Iranian users from their respective mobile application stores (“app stores”). These events are an impediment to the free flow of information and private entrepreneurship independent of the government of Iran. We are concerned that the actions by Apple and Google were mandated by current U.S. sanctions laws and regulations administered by the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), and are herein requesting OFAC to reconsider the scope of its current licensing policies and amend those policies as needed to ensure that Iranians are able to make their own apps available on app stores operated by U.S. parties.

On February 7, 2014, OFAC, in consultation with the State Department, issued General License D-1 (“General License with Respect to Certain Services, Software, and Hardware Incident to Personal Communications”) in order to facilitate the Iranian people’s access to information. GL D-1 was widely praised as an effective example of securing human rights, protecting access to online information, and avoiding government censors.

As a result of GL D-1, the Iranian people – including Iranian youth – were permitted access to apps made available from app stores run by U.S. companies, such as Apple and Google. Upon being granted access to apps made available from app stores like Apple and Google, many young Iranian developers themselves created their own apps for purposes specifically relevant to the Iranian people and submitted those apps to app stores operated by Apple and Google, where they were posted. The startup ecosystem created by young Iranian entrepreneurs has gained international attention for its promoting opportunities for both men and women to secure independence from the traditional state dominated economies of Iran. This movement has continued despite persecution by hardline elements.

Recently, though, both Apple and Google appear to have come to the conclusion that GL D-1 does not provide license authorization for U.S. companies, such as themselves, to host apps developed by Iranian users on their app stores. The disappearance of popular apps created by young Iranian developers and previously made accessible to Iranian users has created shockwaves amongst Iranians online – a potent feeling that they are being unfairly punished for the seemingly perpetual geopolitical dispute between their government and the government of the United States. 

We have appreciated the consideration that has gone into previous efforts by the U.S. government to broaden general license authorizations aimed at easing the burdens placed on the Iranian people by the U.S.’s comprehensive trade and investment embargo with Iran. We have likewise valued the manner in which the Departments of State and Treasury have received our ideas in the past regarding these matters. We believe that recent events merit OFAC to consider broadening the scope of GL D-1 as to expressly authorize U.S. parties to host apps developed by Iranian users on their app stores. Alternatively, if OFAC has concerns about issuing a general license authorization regarding the hosting of such apps, then OFAC should promulgate a statement of licensing policy specific to this matter so as to inform interested parties that OFAC will review license applications to engage in such conduct under a favorable presumption. These steps are critical to remediate the backlash that has been stirred amongst Iranians online and to ensure that the Iranian people are able to fully access personal communications technologies and evade the reach of their own government’s censors.

We trust that your agencies will engage in a thoughtful review of this letter and reconsider its current licensing policies regarding this matter. Further, we hope that this recent issue is not the result of any policy shift away from building bridges with the Iranian people through technology, but instead the result of unforeseen circumstances and technological developments outpacing current licensing. We would appreciate a meeting with appropriate representatives to discuss this matter in fuller detail and engage in a frank conversation regarding any concerns about broadening GL D-1. We thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to your responses.

Sincerely,

Access Now

ASL19

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Iranian American Bar Association

National Iranian American Council

PARS Equality Center

Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans

United4Iran

 

NIAC Urges Trump Not to Turn the Iran Nuclear Deal into a Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ryan Costello
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: rcostello@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – 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 in advance of President Trump’s upcoming certification decision on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal:

“Trump will be courting nuclear disaster and war if he follows through on his disastrous threats to decertify the Iran nuclear deal and aggressively escalate tensions in the region this week. Yet, particularly in light of the apt descriptions of the White House as a daycare center for a President who can’t be trusted to avoid tweeting us into a disastrous war, it appears almost certain that Trump will follow through on his impetuous and destructive threats.

“A failed certification would be the first step to unraveling the Iran nuclear deal and taking us to a new, devastating war of choice in the Middle East. Congress would be empowered to kill the accord through the front door by snapping back sanctions, or to kill it through the back door by moving the goalposts on sanctions relief. Further, Trump himself may find it impossible to sustain the accord later following a declaration that the JCPOA is not in the national interest.

“No serious thinkers support withholding certification. The IAEA has affirmed Iran’s compliance in eight reports and numerous statements. Trump’s national security advisers have twice convinced a reluctant President to certify, and support staying in the JCPOA. Our European allies, Russia and China all support the deal and oppose any effort to re-open it. The only voices in support are old Iraq war champions and a new age of uber-hawks eager to fracture the accord and bomb Iran.

“The risks are too great to allow Trump to open up a nuclear pandora’s box in the Middle East. Trump’s national security team, and all serious thinkers in Congress, must block the President from a failed certification before it is too late.”

###

Media Availability: Experts Available to Discuss Trump’s Iran Nuclear Deal Decision

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Trita Parsi, President, 202.386.2303, tparsi@niacouncil.org
Reza Marashi, Research Director, 206.383.9173, rmarashi@niacouncil.org
Jamal Abdi, Vice President of Policy, 206.369.2069, jabdi@niacouncil.org


MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Experts Available to Discuss Trump’s Iran Nuclear Deal Decision

Experts from the National Iranian American Council are available to discuss President Trump’s upcoming decision on whether or not to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal. Should Trump ignore the advice of his national security advisers and fail to certify, despite Iran’s continued compliance, the odds of an Iranian nuclear weapon and war with Iran will dramatically increase.

Trump is required to issue a certification to Congress every 90 days indicating that Iran is complying with the terms of the JCPOA and that staying in the accord remains in the national interest. If he follows through on his threats to withhold certification, Congress could kill the JCPOA through the front door by snapping back sanctions or through the back door by escalating non-nuclear sanctions and issuing unacceptable ultimatums.

The following experts at the National Iranian American Council are available to provide clear and nuanced analysis of Trump’s decision, its impact on the nuclear deal and how it will reverberate in Iran:

Trita Parsi: Trita is the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on civil rights and US-Iranian relations. Trita’s book, “Losing an Enemy” is considered the definitive book on Obama’s historic nuclear deal with Iran which focuses on Obama’s deeply considered strategy toward Iran’s nuclear program and reveals how the historic agreement of 2015 broke the persistent stalemate in negotiations that had blocked earlier effort.

Parsi’s articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Jane’s Intelligence Review, The Nation, The American Conservative, The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. Follow Trita on Twitter: @tparsi

Recent analysis:
Trita’s oped for Fareed Zakaria’s CNN Newsletter: The Real Risk in Trump’s Iran Gambit, http://mailchi.mp/cnn/the-real-risk-in-trumps-iran-gambit?e=55d825dabd  

Watch Trita on BBC responding to the idea that Trump’s new Muslim ban is “reasonable and justified”: https://www.facebook.com/NIACouncil/videos/10155221509368938

Watch Trita on MSNBC discussing Trump in Saudi Arabia: https://www.facebook.com/NIACouncil/videos/10155485192243938/

The Coming Crisis With Iran, New York Times
Trump is conflating Pyongyang with Tehran. The results could be catastrophic, The Guardian
Netanyahu Is Meeting Trump To Push For War With Iran, Huffington Post

Reza Marashi: Reza joined NIAC in 2010 as the organization’s first Research Director. He came to NIAC after four years in the Office of Iranian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to his tenure at the State Department, he was an analyst at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) covering China-Middle East issues, and a Tehran-based private strategic consultant on Iranian political and economic risk. Marashi is frequently consulted by Western governments on Iran-related matters.

Reza’s articles have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic, among other publications. He has been a guest contributor to CNN, NPR, BBC, TIME Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times, among other broadcast outlets.

Recent analysis:
Watch Reza Marashi on CNN discussing ISIS terror attacks against targets in Iran here: https://www.facebook.com/NIACouncil/videos/10155545528958938/

Watch Reza Marashi give his take on the Iran Nuclear Deal: https://www.facebook.com/NIACouncil/videos/10154909407473938/

This bombast from Trumpland was a gift to the Iranian government, Middle East Eye
Trump and Israel Must Not Conflate North Korea Nuclear Threat With Iran, Haaretz

Jamal Abdi: Jamal is the Policy Director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and the Executive Director of NIAC Action. He leads NIAC’s advocacy and education on civil rights and immigration issues, as well as diplomacy with Iran. He formerly served as Policy Advisor on foreign affairs, immigration, and defense issues in the U.S. Congress. Abdi has written for The New York Times, CNN, Foreign Policy, and blogs at The Huffington Post.  He is a frequent guest contributor in print, radio, and television, including appearances on Al Jazeera, NPR, and BBC News. Follow Jamal on Twitter: @jabdi


Recent Analysis:
Watch Jamal Abdi discuss the Iran nuclear deal on Al Jazeera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=889EPgBn5vk&feature=youtu.be

Democrats, so focused on Russia, risk pushing Trump to war with Iran, The Hill
Why Give Trump The Keys To War With Iran?, The Huffington Post


About NIAC: 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. We accomplish our mission through expert research and analysis, civic and policy education, and community building.


###

Advocates Seek Preliminary Injunction to Prevent Muslim Ban 3.0 from Going into Effect

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / LINK
October 6, 2017
Contact: Shayan Modarres, smodarres@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – Today, the plaintiffs in Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to block President Trump from fully implementing his latest attempt to ban nationals from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

IAAB v. Trump, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, is the first major lawsuit brought against President Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0.   The plaintiffs in this action are Iranian Alliances Across Borders, an Iranian-American diaspora community organization, and six individual plaintiffs, all of whom are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents with Iranian relatives or spouses who will be blocked from coming to the United States.  Today’s filing argues that Muslim Ban 3.0 violates the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws and that the plaintiffs will be irreparably harmed if the policy goes into full effect on October 18.  

The plaintiffs in IAAB 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).  The plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump are joined in their preliminary injunction motion by the plaintiffs in International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) v. Trump, which is pending before the same judge.

According to Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council: “The latest travel ban targeting Iranians and Muslims is not a product of a political conflict between countries, or justified by any credible national security concerns. This ban affects real people and completely disrupts real lives. It robs families of moments they can never get back. Today, we are asking the court to block this unconstitutional ban from impacting these American families and treating them like second class citizens under the law.”

According to Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates: “President Trump’s newest efforts to ban Muslims from entering the United States is unconstitutional and contravenes fundamental American values.  Today’s filing will hopefully ensure that this bigoted and discriminatory policy never goes into full effect.”

According to Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders: ““It is paramount that we stop the latest ban from taking effect. Graduations, weddings, births – virtually every significant moment for our families will be lost because of this ban. This administration attempts to strip us of our humanity and force us to be invisible, only to be acknowledged as part of a ploy pretending we have anything to do with national security. We refuse to be the last of our communities and to force our youth to endure growing up in a country that denies their identities and right to exist. If we do not stop this ban, we allow our families and our youth to become collateral. Previous attempts to ban our communities have already emboldened hate and violence. What then will become of us and the future of our country if this ban actually becomes law?”

According to Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United: “The eyes of history never look kindly on those who choose to side with discrimination.  Religious freedom is about fairness.  Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0, just like the previous versions, is both unfair and rooted in discrimination. It subjects people to ill treatment and second-class status simply because of their religious tradition. This is profoundly un-American, and we’re determined to see that this ban never takes effect.”

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.

###

 

Statement on Lawsuit Against Muslim Ban 3.0

For Immediate Release
 Contact: Shayan Modarres
202-379-1638
smodarres@niacouncil.org

Press Call Tomorrow on Two Lawsuits Filed on the Muslim Ban Expansion

Washington, DC – Today, Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Covington & Burling LLP, in collaboration with the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, announced two lawsuits against the Trump administration’s latest efforts to unlawfully block the entry of Muslims into the United States and carry out President Trump’s long-promised Muslim ban.

For more information, please join a press call tomorrow, October 3 at 11am EST. Dial in 866-342-8591; Passcode “Muslim Ban 3”

About the Suits:

Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump

Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump is the first major lawsuit to be filed against the latest iteration of the Muslim ban. It was filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Maryland, Southern Division, on behalf of the Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) and six individual plaintiffs, all of whom are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents with Iranian relatives who will be blocked from coming to the United States when the latest Muslim ban goes fully into effect on October 18.

This legal action challenges President Trump’s September 24, 2017, Presidential Proclamation—which imposes broad restrictions on entry into the United States for nationals of several predominantly Muslim countries—as a violation of the United States Constitution and other federal laws.  

Brennan Center for Justice v. U.S. Department of State

Brennan Center for Justice v. U.S. Department of State was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to compel the Trump Administration to release critically important details on how it came to choose which countries would be covered by Muslim Ban 3.0.  

Over the summer, federal agencies purportedly conducted a worldwide review of visa issuance and data collection processes, the results of which determined which countries were included on the final list of banned countries in President Trump’s September 24 Proclamation. The process and results of that review have been completely hidden from public view, yet they are being used to determine the fate of millions of individuals across the world.

In July, a number of civil rights organizations, including the Brennan Center for Justice, Muslim Advocates, and Americans United, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on various “extreme vetting” measures enacted by the administration, including information regarding the worldwide review process. The administration has yet to comply with any part of that request, even though the statutory deadline for a response has long since passed. This litigation seeks immediate disclosure of just one element of this multi-part request: the report on the basis of which the Muslim Ban 3.0 countries were selected.  

According to Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates, “President Trump’s latest Muslim ban remains as unjust and unlawful as the prior versions. Banning people because of their religion or national origin doesn’t make our country safer; all it does is tear apart families and propagate bigotry and discrimination.  Through these two legal filings today, we seek to hold this administration accountable and make clear that no one  – including the President – is above the law. You shouldn’t have to file a lawsuit to see your fiancé or grandmother, but that’s what we have to do so our plaintiffs can be reunited with their loved ones.”

According to Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council: “Iranian Americans, and other affected communities, have had to familiarize themselves with ambiguous new laws and policies every few months because of this president’s obsession with fulfilling a flawed campaign promise to ban Muslims from the United States. This erosion of fundamental American values must stop. We are using every tool and legal remedy available to us to stop xenophobia and bigotry from becoming the official immigration policy of the United States.”

According to Mana Kharraz, Executive Director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders: “Over the past year, our members have been subject to discrimination in their schools and subways. We have been separated from our loved ones and had to endure this administration’s continued campaign to divide our families. Our youth are witness to a rise in hatred that puts our country in jeopardy of ushering in a dark chapter of bigotry becoming US policy. We have a right to exist and be protected in the US without becoming pawns in an agenda that has little to do with safety and security.”

According to Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United: “This is the third time that President Trump has tried to implement the Muslim ban, and it’s still designed to exclude people because of their religious beliefs. The only thing that’s really different here is that the Trump administration is now trying to make this appalling ban permanent. Religious freedom is about fairness. When we treat one group of people unfairly because of their religious beliefs, that’s a threat to the religious freedom of all Americans.”

According to Faiza Patel of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University:“We need more information on the president’s decision to blacklist certain countries. Given his repeated insistence that he wants to ban Muslims from the United States, we cannot take his word that the most recent version of the ban is motivated by national security considerations rather than prejudice.”  

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.

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.

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.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice.

###

NIAC Condemns Trump’s ‘Targeted’ Muslim Ban 3.0

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council released the following statement regarding President Trump’s adjustments to the discriminatory Muslim Ban following 90 days of review:

“As many have warned, the Trump administration has now taken steps to make its Muslim ban targeting Iranians and other nationals permanent. Absent additional intervention from the courts, and a long-overdue intervention from the Republican-controlled Congress, the Trump administration will cement a racist and discriminatory campaign promise into official U.S. policy. This new Muslim Ban 3.0 is nothing but an extension of the same discriminatory policy first rolled out in January that is a fundamental challenge to American values of equality and tolerance. Once again, Trump has put his ego ahead of the security of the United States and the safety of the American people.

“Amending this ban does not change what its intent has been since its inception, which was clearly to ban Muslims. The Trump Administration has simply tried to make the President’s racist proclamation to ban all Muslims more palatable. The bottom line remains that Donald Trump is banning the family members of Iranian Americans and others from visiting the United States based on his own prejudice. By applying the ban to more people Trump has simply doubled down on his efforts to halt legal immigration, including temporary visits, to the greatest extent possible.

“This third iteration of the ban includes minor but wholly inefficient exceptions, including exempting Iranian students and exchange visitors from the ban under enhanced scrutiny. Family members will apparently be banned, in spite of a previous Supreme Court ruling preventing the Administration from banning persons with bona fide relations in the U.S. Iranian Americans who came to the land of the free never imagined that the U.S. would become a country that bars its doors and formally endorses and codifies xenophobic policies.

Trump’s new ban is not designed to make America safer, it’s designed to make Trump appear tougher. Banning entire nationalities from visiting the U.S. is absurd and will not make America more secure under any circumstances. The countries included in Trump’s latest ban are merely those with whom the US has bad relations, not from where threats have actually emanates. Iran, for instance, is a country that has very poor relations with the US and yet there is no credible threat from Iranians visiting the US. Not a single person has died on American soil due to an Iranian terror attack. 94% of all Americans killed on U.S. soil in acts of terror by a foreign national, were conducted by nationals of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt. But the very real threat from radicalization taking place in Saudi Arabia is not addressed by Trump, nor is it eliminated by the information sharing that does take place between Washington and Riyadh. Trump’s new ban seems designed to make him look tough, but not designed to actually make America safer.

“In short, Trump’s new ban does not pass the 9/11 test: Had this measure been in place in 2001, it would not have prevented the 9/11 attack.  

“While it has long been telegraphed, the fact that restrictions on Iranians were continued indefinitely is a perfect demonstration of why these ‘bans’ are terrible homeland security policy. Trump himself has praised Iranian Americans as ‘one of the most successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history.’ Secretary of State Tillerson described the Iranian people as a ‘very well educated, very sophisticated population’ just this week. And, despite the fact that no Iranians or any other nationals included in Trump’s ban were responsible for any terror-related deaths on U.S. soil, Trump keeps trying to ban Iranians.

“We are confident that the courts will see through this disingenuous tactic of expanding the ban in order to dilute its clearly discriminatory motive. Casting a wider net only validates what we and others have always maintained, which is that the Muslim Ban was but the first step in a wider initiative to implement Islamophobic, racist, and xenophobic policies that pander to the desires of Trump’s White supremacist base. These are not ‘targeted’ restrictions but arbitrary ones that do not keep the country safer and soil our national reputation.”

###

 

Trump and Netanyahu Risk Repeating Mistakes of Iraq War with Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ryan Costello
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: rcostello@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 after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during his speech before the UN General Assembly

“It is telling that Netanyahu, who has sought to undermine international diplomacy with Iran at nearly every turn, was one of the only observers impressed by Trump’s inflammatory UN General Assembly speech this morning. Both he and Trump appear determined to unravel the accord successfully preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and war with Iran, regardless of the consequences.

“After the disaster of the Iraq war that Trump supposedly opposed, it is a sad state of affairs for Americans and the world to once again be subjected to lies and distortions as part of a campaign to sell a new confrontation, this time with Iran.

“The reality is that the Director General of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, continues to fully affirm that Iran is complying with its commitments under the nuclear accord and that Iran is subject to the world’s most robust verification regime. This conclusion is shared by our allies in Europe, the U.S. intelligence community and Israel’s own security establishment. Yet, Trump and Netanyahu appear determined to repeat the mistakes that led the U.S. into Iraq.

“Netanyahu’s new demand to “fix” the nuclear deal was to make its restrictions permanent. He knows very well that is an impossibility. The entire premise of the nuclear deal was to punish Iran for past transgressions while also providing a path for Iran to restore the confidence of the international community that its nuclear program is solely peaceful. If that confidence is restored in the years ahead, Iran’s nuclear file would be normalized and it would be in good standing within the Non-Proliferation Treaty, though still subject to intrusive inspections.

“If this path towards normalization and regaining of confidence was not provided, Iran would have no incentive to agree to the deal. It was not going to agree to a deal that would see it permanently punished. Netanyahu is fully aware of this and is pushing this demand precisely because he knows it will kill the nuclear deal. His track record of consistently seeking to destroy any realistic nuclear deal with Iran speaks for itself.

“While it is reasonable to seek solutions regarding Iranian activities outside the scope of the nuclear sphere, it is counter to U.S. national security to unravel the nuclear accord on the basis of those concerns. Netanyahu’s alarmism on Iran’s nuclear program was itself critical to forcing the U.S. to prioritize the number one national security threat – that of an Iranian nuclear weapon – to all other concerns presented by Iran. Yet, it was diplomacy that resolved what seemed to be the most intractable of issues. It is diplomacy that must be utilized to resolve all other outstanding concerns.

“The notion that Trump can be trusted with re-negotiating the JCPOA, as Netanyahu suggested, is laughable. Not only did the agreement take two years to negotiate in the first place, but no other parties to the accord – including our partners in Europe – support re-opening the nuclear file. While NIAC strongly supports the administration engaging in serious negotiations with Iran to address other concerns – from regional security to detained Americans in Iran – the possibility of any future diplomacy bearing fruit hinges on the U.S. backing away from its threat to upend the most important agreement between the U.S. and Iran in more than three and a half decades.

“Trump has a clear choice. He can listen to Netanyahu and repeat the mistakes that led to the war in Iraq with Iran, thus squandering any credibility that the U.S. has as a leader on security issues, or he can step back from the brink and commit to the nuclear accord. In so doing, he would preserve his political capital for future security crises – including negotiations with North Korea. Unfortunately, in his shameful and outrageous speech this morning, Trump appears to be doubling down on the path that risks war and an undetectable Iranian nuclear weapon capability.”

###

Trump’s Outreach to Iranian People Rings Hollow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ryan Costello
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: rcostello@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 after President Trump addressed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during their speeches before the UN General Assembly:

“If Trump was determined to demonstrate to the world that he is unhinged and an imminent danger to world peace, he has succeeded with this speech, and will only make it harder for him to win over the world to his self-destructive goals.

“There was a remarkable tone deafness in Trump’s outreach to the Iranian people. After having imposed on them a Muslim ban, despite the fact that no Iranian national has committed a lethal act of terror in the US, after declaring that Iranians only have themselves to blame when ISIS struck Tehran with terror, and after undermining and threatening to kill the nuclear deal that the Iranian people overwhelmingly support, Trump shockingly believes he can position himself as a friend of ordinary Iranians. But actions speak louder than words, and in all of his acts, he has shown deep animosity towards the people of Iran.

“Contrary to their government, Iranians are known to be one of the most pro-American populations in the Middle East. Through his policies, however, Trump has and continues to do great damage to that reservoir of goodwill towards America. His address at the UN only revealed that he is painfully unaware or arrogantly indifferent to how he is being perceived.

“If Trump was interested in genuine outreach to the people of Iran, he would end his bigoted Muslim ban and help promote people-to-people contacts, he would respect and honor the nuclear deal, and he would seek to resolve remaining tensions between the US and Iran through peaceful diplomacy. This would also be the most effective way of advancing American interest and security.

“Instead, Trump has chosen hollow expressions of solidarity while he lumps Iran into the same category of “wicked” states as North Korea, which he threatened to completely destroy. This speech will not strike fear into the hearts of Iranian leaders. If anything, they will find it easier to rally the Iranian people behind their government.

“If Trump continues on his path, he will only succeed in undermining any remaining goodwill in Iran, repeating the mistakes of the Iraq war with Iran and devastating American security.”   

###