NIAC Joins Letter Demanding ICE Release Detention Records

The National Iranian American Council joined several other organizations in signing onto a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding the release of detention records from the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The release of detention records would provide advocacy groups with information needed to stand against the Trump administration’s attack on sanctuary cities and immigrants in general.

Organizations signing included the National Immigration Law Center and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, alongside 40 others.

The letter highlighted the Department’s legal obligation to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA allows individuals and organizations to demand access to records.

The FOIA statute permits the withholding of information only if an agency reasonably foresees that releasing the information would be harmful to operations or its disclosure is otherwise prohibited by law. The letter argues that ICE overuses the excuse that a disclosure would harm its operational capabilities in order to avoid providing information.

The letter referred to similar FOIA requests filed by state representatives and law enforcement agencies as evidence for the necessity of greater transparency regarding ICE activities and of the broader policy implications of the issue.

The records being withheld are known as “Declined Detainer Outcome Reports,” which are meant to be released weekly. The reports detail which non-Federal jurisdictions in the country do not honor detainer requests issued from the federal ICE office. Given the inaccurate and misleading nature of information contained in previous reports, access to the data is required for advocates to have proper insight into the Administration’s immigration crackdown.

The letter demands access to previously released data on sanctuary cities as a minimum requirement under the FOIA.

 

NIAC Calls on Authorities to Release Detained Iranian Citizen Holding Valid Visa

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

The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement on the arrest of an Iranian citizen with a valid visa in Oregon:

“The National Iranian American Council calls upon authorities to release and explain the arrest and detention of Alia Ghandi, an Iranian citizen who holds a valid U.S. visa. Ghandi’s arrest raises a number of concerns that Iranians are still being unfairly targeted by immigration enforcement due to their national origin, in spite of court orders putting a hold on Trump’s Muslim ban.”

“Ghandi traveled to Oregon to visit her sister who is a U.S. citizen, where upon arrival a customs officer reportedly questioned her on why she had so many documents with her and subsequently denied her entry. Alia protested the deportation and was promptly arrested and sent to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center. Alia’s sister has not yet been permitted to visit her in jail even though she has been detained for over 48-hours.”

“Alia’s sister claims she has since been asked if she wanted Alia – an architect – to remain in the U.S. and serve as a babysitter for her two young children. We understand that customs agents have a responsibility to ask tough questions, albeit in a respectful manner. According to Matthew dos Santos, Legal Director of ACLU Oregon, Alia has decided to claim asylum, which is her right, and the U.S. has an obligation to hear her case. Rather than being thrown in jail, asylum seekers should be welcomed, assisted, and permitted a chance to be heard by a judge.”

“Visitors from Muslim and Middle Eastern countries have long felt unwelcome at U.S. airports and the entry process – even with a visa – remains arbitrary. We fear that the Trump administration and its Muslim Ban executive orders have empowered a culture of xenophobia rather than professionalism within Customs and Border Patrol, as numerous examples including Ghandi’s demonstrate. Further, this climate of fear risks unduly targeting and diminishing Iranian’s desire to even pursue their dreams or visit their family here in the United States. The fate of valid visa holders should not be determined by the “luck of the draw” in which agent greets them at the border and detention should be reserved for criminals.”

 

NIAC Joins Amicus Brief to Protect Immigrants’ Citizenship

Washington, DC – NIAC has joined 73 other organizations to file an amicus brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that threatens to allow the government to strip individuals of their U.S. citizenship for making minor, immaterial misstatements during the immigration process. Traditionally, stripping naturalized citizens of their citizenship has been reserved for individuals who lie about involvement in terrorism or genocide rather than minor immaterial misstatements.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has held that a naturalized American citizen can be stripped of their citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement. This departs from the holdings of the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 1st, 4th, 7th and 9th Circuits. The case is set to be argued before the US Supreme Court on April 26, 2017 in a case known as case is Maslenjak v. U.S.

If the Supreme Court accepts the 6th Circuit’s holding, the citizenship of naturalized Iranian Americans could potentially be targeted by overzealous officials if they can find evidence of minor misstatements during the naturalization process.

Through this action, NIAC is taking a stand with other organizations that are committed to protecting the diversity, civil rights, and tolerance that are core American values. These values are under assault and many members of our community are particularly vulnerable.

Other organizations that signed include the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Council of Jewish Women, National Association of Social Workers, Council on American Islamic Relations, HIAS Pennsylvania, League of Women Voters US, and the Hispanic National Bar Association.

 

 

 

NIAC Calls for Grace Period on Inhumane Trump Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement calling for a grace period on President Trump’s ban on nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen so that they can be reunited with their families:

With more and more reports of visa holders and lawful permanent residents being detained at U.S. airports, the horrific nature of Trump’s Muslim ban is fully apparent for the entire world to see. Families are being ripped apart without warning and with no assurance of when they will be reunited. Students traveling abroad at the time of the ban are horrified that they might not be able to return to continue their studies. Children are being detained along with their parents when they were just seeking to return home. This is a dark day in the history of this country.

If the Trump administration has any shred of humanity and decency, it will institute a grace period without delay in order to enable all lawful permanent residents, dual nationals and visa holders from Iran and the other targeted countries to return to the United States to reunite with their families and return to their daily lives. Anything less is a complete disgrace.

NIAC will continue to fight to overturn this unjust and inhumane ban on Iranians and other nationals.

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