Muslim Ban Plaintiffs Statement in Advance of IAAB v. Trump Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / LINK
December 8, 2017
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: (407) 408-0494
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org

Muslim Ban Plaintiffs Statement in Advance of IAAB v. Trump Hearing
Our Resolve Has Never Been Greater

Washington, D.C – Today, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. will hear arguments in three related legal challenges, including Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump, to the Trump administration’s latest version of its Muslim ban. The hearing comes after the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into full effect while these suits and another in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are under consideration.

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

According to Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council: “We are before the court today asking for clarity – clarity following three versions of a Muslim ban that now affects more than 150 million people, and various court decisions that have torn apart and obscured the status of families. We are also asking the court for moral clarity. A Muslim ban and the U.S. Constitution simply cannot co-exist. A Muslim ban betrays bedrock American principles, and it cannot be allowed to define who we are as a nation. We are optimistic that the Fourth Circuit will share our view that this Muslim ban remains as unconstitutional as the first two versions.”

According to Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates: “Following the Supreme Court’s deeply unfortunate decision to temporarily reinstate the third Muslim ban, the stakes in this case are painfully clear. This court will decide if families will be torn apart and if our country will abandon fundamental values of fairness and equal treatment. For the past year, the federal courts have served as the backbone of our Constitution and ruled on the right side of history. We remain optimistic that the Fourth Circuit will do the same.”

According to Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders: “Under the Muslim ban, IAABers have encountered discrimination and bigotry in our schools and in our neighborhoods. But, when faced with hate, we stand strong. We will not be silenced. We will not be invisible. We will continue to persevere and to defend our community.”

According to Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United: “As long as the Muslim ban remains in place, our country is cruelly separating families and signaling to Muslims that they are second-class citizens unworthy of equal treatment under law. Religious freedom is about fairness and equality for people of all faiths. There is nothing fair or equal about banning Muslims from the United States. We urge the court to once again strike down President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American Muslim ban.”

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.

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Coalition Briefing on Capitol Hill Examines Muslim Ban

Washington, D.C. – “National security is not a ‘talismanic incantation’ that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power,” argued Avideh Moussavian at a briefing held on Capitol Hill last week regarding the future implications of the Muslim Ban.

In an effort to bring public interest back to the Muslim Ban arena, NIAC teamed up with a number of organizations in co-hosting the briefing, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American Islamic Relations, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the National Immigration Law Center. The event focused on Trump’s Muslim ban as well as broader policies aimed at reducing immigration from Muslim-majority nations. The discussion took place just days before the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go back into effect pending an appeals process, which marked a setback but is far from a final decision.

The panelists, including Abrar Omeish, a Libyan-American graduate student directly impacted by the Muslim ban, Avideh Moussavian, Senior Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, Abed Ayoub, Legal and Policy Director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Nana Brantuo, Policy Manager at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, sought to clarify aspects of the newest travel ban as well as address possible future implications should it be allowed to persist.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) opened the briefing and discussed her legislation, H.R. 4271, which would prohibit the use of funds to implement Trump’s Muslim Ban. “We know that President Trump’s Muslim Ban has nothing to do with national security, and everything to do with instilling fear of the Muslim community,” she said. To emphasize her point that this ban is no different than the two preceding it, a host of panelists discussed the legal implications and aspects of the ban.

Moussavian and Ayoub both discussed how these bans are actually not making our country safer and have in fact had a detrimental effect on our national security, citing Muslim-targeted vetting questions and social media profiling as examples where both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens were getting caught in the crossfire. Ayoub stated how the ban is not only affecting those from countries listed on the injunction, but countries that have a majority Muslim population that are not listed on the ban, such as Pakistan. Moussavian also highlighted how the latest iteration of the ban was merely a repeat of those preceding it, with only minor “cosmetic” changes being made to give it the illusion of not solely targeting Muslims.

Overall, the sentiments about the latest Muslim Ban are consistent with what has been repeated thus far: this ban is unconstitutional, it is unjust, and it is illegal.

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.

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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.

Muslim Ban 3 Blocked! Help Us Keep Winning

We just FULLY blocked Muslim Ban 3.0!

Moments ago, Judge Theodore Chuang granted our Motion for Preliminary Injunction which blocks Muslim Ban 3.0 from going into effect for the duration of our lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland.

This goes well beyond the decision yesterday from the Judge in Hawaii who only issued a temporary restraining order.

Muslim Ban 3.0 was supposed to go into effect today, October 18, and would have blocked visas for Iranians indefinitely. Instead, we just blocked the ban for the duration of our lawsuit.

Although we have a long road ahead, we are extremely pleased with this outcome. A Muslim Ban cannot become the official immigration policy of the United States, and we will do everything in our power to make sure it never does.

Make a donation today — We are under attack now more than ever, and we need your support now more than ever if we are going to win this fight!

Over the last few weeks, we have heard from so many of you sharing your heartbreaking stories with us. Let me be clear: even with court decisions temporarily standing in the way of hateful policies, this is not the time to rest because Trump will find new ways to target Iranian Americans.

Whether it’s starting a war in Iran, or banning our families from the United States, we must be prepared to defend ourselves against these steady attacks on our community!
 
We’re working overtime to beat back Muslim Ban 3.0 and apply pressure on Trump to shed light on his clandestine ‘extreme vetting policy.’ We’re holding politicians accountable to us and we’re shouting reason over the drumbeat of war with Iran. Imagine how much more we can accomplish with more resources.    
 
Donate right now — We can’t take on Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and wealthy lobbyists and donors all on our own.

In solidarity,

Shayan Modarres
Legal Counsel, NIAC

Demonstrators spell out "# No Muslim Ban" during the "Boston Protest Against Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders" to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

We Just Fully Blocked Muslim Ban 3.0!

 
Demonstrators spell out "# No Muslim Ban" during the "Boston Protest Against Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders" to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
 

We just blocked Muslim Ban 3.0! Overnight, Judge Theodore D. Chuang, the federal judge who issued one of two nationwide injunctions against Muslim Ban 2.0, issued another nationwide preliminary injunction against Muslim Ban 3.0, going beyond the Temporary Restraining Order issued by Judge Watson in Hawaii. The implementation and enforcement of Muslim Ban 3.0 will remain blocked for the duration of the lawsuit filed by the National Iranian American Council, Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Covington Burling LLP, on behalf of Iranian Alliances Across Borders and individual plaintiffs challenging the president’s September 24 Proclamation.

One thing remains clear through the disorienting cloud of litigation surrounding the president’s embattled attempts to fulfill a campaign promise of banning Muslims: nothing is preventing President Trump from trying new versions of his Muslim ban over and over again until he achieves a paradoxically constitutional Muslim ban.

In this likely never-ending cycle of unconstitutionality, the president will issue a remixed Muslim ban with subtle cosmetic changes, litigation will follow, and a new, rewritten Muslim ban will be promptly introduced before a binding Supreme Court decision, restarting the entire cycle again.

In this political era of villainizing refugees and throwing paper towels to suffering and starving U.S. citizens, perhaps the Congressional inaction is unsurprising. Congress has enabled the president by repeatedly failing to intervene and take up legislation like the Statue of Liberty Values Act 2.0 (or SOLVE Act 2.0) which would have rescinded Muslim Ban 2.0. In many cases, Congressional members have not even issued a single public statement about the Muslim bans in the past ten months. Silence is acquiescence.

Trump’s original attempt at a Muslim ban has undergone different rounds of edits, but the two core components remain the same. The first, commonly referred to as the “travel ban” restricts the entry of certain foreign nationals into the United States; the second, commonly referred to as the “refugee ban,” limits the number of refugees allowed into the United States, irrespective of country of origin.
 

Two challenges to the second version of the Muslim Ban came before the Supreme Court in June, both resulting in District Court judges issuing nationwide halts on the ban – International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) v. Trump, and Trump v. Hawaii.

In the first opportunity for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the constitutionality of the Muslim ban, the nine Justices allowed the travel ban to go into effect for travelers who lacked a credible claim of a “bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States,” and lifting the stay on the refugee ban entirely. This was a telling indication that the first part of the Muslim ban is being viewed by the Supreme Court Justices with considerably greater constitutional skepticism than the second part. 

Last Monday, a brief one page order handed down by the Supreme Court directed the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the IRAP v. Trump as moot without expressing any view on the merits of the case. Trump v. Hawaii will likely face the same fate once the 120-day suspension of refugees entering the United States also expires next month.

By dismissing the writ of certiorari as “improvidently granted” in IRAP v. Trump, the Supreme Court could have removed the case from their docket while leaving lower court decisions undisturbed. Instead, the Supreme Court – with the exception of Justice Sotomayor dissenting – granted the president a blank slate on a Muslim ban.

The president has turned his campaign promise into a video game, like Muslim Ban 3 for Nintendo, hitting the reset button every time he fails to reach a desired outcome. But this is not a video game. Real people, real families, real lives are hurt with every version of the same hateful, bigoted Muslim ban. Muslim Ban 3.0 may be halted for now, but Congress must pull the plug on Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban for good before he issues Muslim Ban 4.0.

Meet Several of the Plaintiffs in Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump

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.  In order to protect themselves from violence and retaliation, all individual plaintiffs in this litigation are identified by pseudonyms.  Learn more about some of their stories below.

Iranian Alliances Across Borders. IAAB is a volunteer-driven community organization that helps Iranian-American youth build community and connect to their roots. Since the ban first went into effect, its members have been harassed and several of its youth from overseas have been unable to participate in its programming. As IAAB’s executive director has explained:

“The travel bans issued in the past year, and the anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign, resulted in our organization having to devote significant time responding to members of our community who were subjected to hate speech and intimidation in public places, and/or were otherwise distressed and stigmatized by these events. In response to these reports, we launched the “Reject Hate” campaign to help our members respond to and address targeting and harassment. We worked with parents in our community to provide toolkits for the schools their children attend, presenting positive images of Muslims, Middle Easterners, and South Asians and otherwise guiding parents and educators about how to deal with discriminatory and hateful Behavior.

The travel bans also affected our educational programs, and the new version of the ban issued on September 24, 2017, excluding, without any time limitation, all Iranian nationals from immigrating to the United States, and most Iranian nationals from traveling to the United States, is likely to affect those programs in the future.”

Jane Doe Number One. Jane Doe Number One, an American citizen, is currently living abroad because she cannot return home to Maryland with her Iranian husband.  She is terrified that her husband’s interview for U.S. citizenship will be cancelled should Muslim Ban 3 take effect. As she has explained:

“My husband is the sole breadwinner for our family. While he was a bachelor, remaining in this uncertain status…was easier; but now we are a family and he has greater responsibilities, and the uncertainty of our situation makes him very worried. For all these reasons, we are eagerly awaiting completion of his immigrant visa process, so that we can breathe more easily and come to the United States, where we can settle freely and comfortably and feel like we really belong somewhere and can remain there in a permanent way. I understand that if the Proclamation goes fully into effect, his interview will not be scheduled and he will not be able to obtain an immigrant visa to come to the United States with me.”

Jane Doe Number Two. Jane Doe Number Two is a native Marylander who met her fiancé while traveling through Iran seven years ago. She submitted a visa application on his behalf; it was received on Valentines Day earlier this year.  She is petrified that if his visa application is not approved before October 18, he will be permanently banned from coming to the United States. As she explains:

“I understand that if his visa is not issued by October 18, he will be banned from traveling to the United States…This will mean that I have to choose between my home and my country here in Maryland and the love of my life, the man I want to marry. We have both been distraught since finding out about the ban. If my fiancé’s visa is not granted, we will be completely devastated. It will be very difficult for me to leave my job and the only home I have known. This will tear us apart, and we are already devastated just thinking about it.”

Jane Doe Number Five. Jane Doe Number Five is a 79-year-old wheelchair bound woman who desperately wants her son to come to the United States to help take care of her. Even though his visa was approved over seven years ago, Muslim Ban 3.0 will stop it from ever being officially issued should it be allowed to come into full effect on October 18.  As she has explained:

“My son is now by himself in Iran, and he wants to come join us here in the United States. I also very much want and need him to be here. I am 79 years old, and as a result of several health issues, am now wheelchair-bound. My husband is 90 years old. He has problems with balance and falls if he walks by himself. It is very difficult for my other son to take care of us by himself, and very hard for us to get around or meet our own needs. We desperately need my other son to be here also.

Ever since I found out about the Proclamation, I have been extremely anxious, sad, and worried. I am afraid that I will never be able to see my son. I am afraid that he will not be able to come and be with his elderly parents. This causes me great pain and suffering on a daily basis.”

We’re Already Taking Trump To Court Over Muslim Ban 3.0

Like a blooper reel from a racist reality television show starring Donald Trump, we are now on Muslim ban, take three. The Sept. 24, 2017 presidential proclamation marks the third attempt at fulfilling a flawed campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslim from entering the United States.

But like his previous attempts, this one just got challenged in court as well.

Just hours ago, the National Iranian American Council and our partners (Muslim AdvocatesIAAB and Americans United for Separation of Church and State) filed the first lawsuit in the country challenging the Sept. 24 proclamation. The complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division ― titled Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump ― seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the Sept. 24 proclamation.

It’s Still A Muslim Ban

Sure, not every Muslim-majority country is included in this ban. But Muslim-majority countries remain the only ones impacted in any meaningful way, and the intent of fulfilling a campaign promise to ban Muslims has not changed.

Three countries were added to the newest iteration of the Muslim ban: North Korea, Venezuela and Chad. In 2016, only 1,355 nonimmigrant visas were issued to nationals of Chad, a Muslim-majority country, and a grand total of 100 nonimmigrant visas were issued to North Korea. A majority of the 156,361 visas issued to Venezuelans in 2016 will continue to be permitted into the United States, because only Venezuelan government officials and their families are barred from visas.

Syria accounted for 9,096 nonimmigrant visas issued in 2016, Yemen 5,203, Libya 2,307 and Somalia 451.

If 2016 visa statistics are any indicator, Iran accounted for 29,404 ― the lion’s share of nonimmigrant visas ― and is among the broadest categorically banned countries under the third Muslim ban.

So although North Korea and Venezuela were added, both non-Muslim majority countries, their inclusion is insignificant, because the newest Muslim ban would only affect about 100 North Koreans and a handful of Venezuelan government officials. The rest of the families affected will likely be Muslim and will likely be Iranian.

So can we still call this proclamation a Muslim ban? Absolutely, because it very much is. 

The Multiple Muslim Bans Do Nothing To Keep America Safe 

The Trump administration had more than 90 days to conduct a review of threats to our national security from abroad. They were not able to produce a shred of evidence that would indicate a credible threat to national security from Iranian nationals, or citizens of the other countries targeted. That is because since as far back as 1975, no one in the United States has been killed in a terrorist attack by someone from the seven countries targeted by Trump’s original Muslim ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. 

The multiple Muslim bans, and Donald Trump’s racially charged rhetoric, has actually contributed to making America less safe ― 2017 has marked a dramatic rise in hate crimes.  

Sudan Was Able To Buy Its Way Out Of Muslim Ban #3

Case in point, consider the case of Sudan. The African country is wrestling with a significant Al-Qaeda presence, yet it was able to avoid being included in the third Muslim ban despite being targeted by executive order #1 and #2. Why?

According to investigative journalist Ryan Grim, the explanation lies in aggressive lobbying by the United Arab Emirates in return for Sudan sending thousands of mercenaries to help the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s war efforts in Yemen. By providing mercenary support, Sudan effectively purchased their way out of inclusion in Muslim ban #3 – and just like that, the national security threat that Trump claimed Sudan presented in executive order #1 and #2 disappeared.

This clearly isn’t about America’s safety. It’s about Trump’s ego and his promise to his base to ban Muslims. If President Trump was serious about addressing terror threats and threats to national security, he would take seriously the bipartisan Committee on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel’s findings from 2015, which did not list Trump-targeted countries like Iran in the top five countries from which foreign fighters originate. He would take seriously foreign intervention in our elections or threats from global warming and climate change. 

But he has not taken any of these threats to American safety seriously, yet, because he is obsessed and consumed with fulfilling his promise to ban Muslims without regard for how it will tear apart American families.

Why We Are Suing… Again

Over the last nine months, Iranian-Americans and other targeted communities have been forced to become experts in immigration law and familiarize themselves with new immigration laws and policies that seem to change every few months. They don’t do it because they love studying the law in their spare time – they do it because they have to and because being reunited with their families depends on their knowledge of how to navigate the new laws.

The Sept. 24 proclamation, in many respects, is the most cruel and absurd of the three Muslim bans and is most detrimental to the Iranian community in particular. An estimated 62 percent of individuals affected by the third Muslim ban will be Iranian.

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and our partners filed this lawsuit challenging Muslim ban #3, because what has remained constant throughout the last eight months – aside from the glaring congressional inaction and passivity in the face of an assault on bedrock American values and principles – is the racial and religious animus that motivates President Trump to persist with new attempts at banning Muslims.

It has taken the Trump administration three takes to figure out how to legally implement a Muslim ban – because they still have not figured out it is unconstitutional to implement a Muslim ban. NIAC and our partners will be there to serve as a periodic reminder that a Muslim ban is un-American and unconstitutional.

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

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.

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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.

NIAC Statement on Court’s Failure to Intervene on Grandparent Ban

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

Washington, DC – Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement after the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii denied a challenge to the Trump administration’s narrow interpretation of who will be exempt from the Muslim ban:

“We regret that the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii refused to clarify or limit which familial relationships are to be considered “bona fide” or good faith relationships. Grandparents, uncles, aunts and other close family relatives will continue to be banned from seeing their relatives in the United States, labeledunder President Trump’s Muslim banas potential terrorists. This is an outrageous and inhumane interpretation by the Trump administration, and we hope common sense will ultimately prevail despite the district court’s decision last night.

“There is palpable fear in the Iranian and Muslim community in the United States. The Supreme Court will hear the Muslim ban case this fall, and a ruling is looming. There is also the potential for future constitutionally-offensive executive orders. Communities are scared that they will continue to be targeted for no reason other than where they are from and what faith they practice.

“It is abundantly clear that we cannot rely on the courts to intervene in the place of our elected officials. We would not need to rely on judicial intervention if our elected representatives showed backbone to Trump and stepped up to protect their constituents and defend fundamental American principles.”

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