April 19, 2017

Court Hears Live Testimony Ahead of Friday Hearing on Muslim Ban

Washington, DC – DC District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan heard live testimonials on Tuesday from members of the Iranian-American community in the joint lawsuit, Pars Equality Center, et al., v. Donald J. Trump, et al., brought on behalf of four Iranian-American organizations challenging the Administration’s Muslim Ban.

The plaintiffs in the suit are the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), Pars Equality Center, and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA).

Shayan Modarres, NIAC’s newly hired legal counsel, spoke at a press conference prior to the hearing, stating that “a ban on [Trump’s] visits to Mar-a-Lago would do more to help our national security than the Muslim Ban.”

He condemned the President’s racist attacks on Iranians and the labeling of the community as terrorists and a threat to the safety of Americans. He also reiterated that Congress could rescind the ban tomorrow if it summoned the political will but Congressional leadership has so far abrogated its responsibility to the courts.

Testimony centered on material impacts of the executive order on Iranian-Americans, including disruption of plans to visit family, legal complications for Iranian students studying in the United States, and the endorsement of stigmatization of Iranians and others targeted by the executive order as potential “criminals” and “terrorists.”

Mr. Babak Yousefzadeh, president of IABA, referenced countless cases received by IABA and the legal counsel provided to families since the order’s passage as evidence of the irreparable harm experienced by the community.

An important element in upholding the preliminary injunction is demonstrating the harm to Iranian-Americans as that which cannot be redressed with monetary damages, which would be inadequate because of the nature of the injury and the right affected by the executive order.

Dr. Leila Golestaneh Austin, executive director of PAAIA, discussed the order’s implicit affirmation of hate crimes such as the Olathe, KS shooting of two Indian men (who were targeted because the shooter thought they were Iranians) and vandalism carried out on the homes of Iranians in several locations as proof of such irreparable harm.

She also noted that targeting Iranians as terrorists will contribute to mistrust of civil institutions, especially among the youngest generation of Iranian-Americans growing up in the United States today.

The hearing was the first instance in which live testimony was heard in any of the several court cases filed against the executive order. Oral arguments will be heard from each side on Friday.


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