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

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.


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

Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: 202 386-6325

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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