Stories & Insight One Year into Trump’s Muslim Ban


Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: (206) 369-2069

January 27, 2018, marks the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban that remains in place today. The Iranian-American community has been particularly impacted by this ban, with 62% of the non-immigrant visas typically issued to countries on Trump’s list going to Iranians.

The next week is an excellent opportunity to evaluate the continued impact of the ban and the prospects for overturning it when it comes before the Supreme Court this spring or at the ballot box during the Congressional mid-term elections in November. NIAC Action legal, legislative, and community experts are available for comment.

We have included key resources below including stories of those impacted by the ban, an overview of how the ban has been implemented and details on efforts to overturn the ban:

Stories from Iranian Americans on the Continued Impact of the Ban:

“My wife is finally pregnant after 8 years. My mother in law couldn’t wait to see her grandchild, but with Muslim ban 3.0, she has no chance.”


“I sit in my lab at university everyday, thinking why my mom and I are being punished for the crimes we’ve never committed?! In what world anyone has the right to separate a daughter from her mom for 5 years?”


“I can’t hold back my tears when I’m asked by colleagues: “what are you doing for the holidays?” I can’t travel back home because I won’t be able to come back to the U.S. due to the new travel ban. On top of that, my parents whom I have not seen for 3 years, cannot obtain a visa to come visit me. This separation is unnecessary and unfair.”


I lost my father, the only family I had after losing both my mother and only young brother to cancer. My father died of a broken heart, after 16 months of waiting for a visa, he had given up hope that we were ever going to be together again.

I strongly believe my rights were violated not only in the first place when my father went to the U.S. Embassy, but also over and over again during this last 16 months until he died. 

My father died from disappointment and depression. I clearly stated my situation and the hardship we went through in my letters to Congressman, the White House, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy. I also clearly stated my frustration at the neglecting of my father’s case with them, but they did nothing to help us. I strongly believe that they are responsible for all the hardships and grief my father went through, and also his death. I strongly believe my basic right to have my father in my home was subjected to political matter, hatred and discrimination. I don’t doubt that there are many others whose hopes have been dashed by what I perceive to be an uncaring, unfeeling bureaucracy.


“My 73 year old dad is suffering from heart disease, stares at my 3 year old son with a mixture of enthusiasm and sorrow. While he tries to take a look at my son through my cell phone camera, I cry deep inside and curse myself for having to leave them for hope of a better life for my kids living in freedom. My parents may live and die without having their children and grandkids around. This is the price I am paying to be in land of freedom and opportunity.”


“My husband is Iranian, and is now a U.S. citizen. I was born and raised in America, and I’m a current military service member. We are recently married, and we had a destination wedding in Mexico due to the Muslim Ban. We knew there was no way my husband’s entire family would get tourist visas approved to come to our wedding in America, so we decided on a wedding in Mexico. The Mexican embassy in Tehran was great to work with. They were prompt, friendly, and fair. Now that we are back home in the States, it breaks my heart that I do not know when I will see half of my family again. What if we have kids? Since we are recently married, this is something we have been talking about a lot. Do we want to bring children into the world that may never know one set of their grandparents due to our president and administration being racist? Who will help us with childcare and life in general, as many grandparents do? As an Airman, I fight for the rights of everyone in this country. The fact that our president is taking them away everyday because of his misinformed, racist agenda breaks my heart. Will I ever see my sister again? Or brother? How has Congress let him get away with this time and time again?”

– Jennifer

The Legal Implications of the Ban:

The National Iranian American Council has been involved in two lawsuits to defeat all three versions of Trump’s ban. There was little doubt then that Trump’s Order “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” and there remains little doubt a year later:

  • While Trump’s lawyers have not yet won on the merits, the fact that the ban has been allowed to go into force means that impacted communities cannot rely on the Supreme Court alone to strike down the ban.
  • Dating back for over 40 years, no national from the targeted countries has ever killed anyone in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil;
  • The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has confirmed that nationality is a poor predictor of terror threat;
  • The criteria used to justify the new proclamation were applied arbitrarily, not in an objective manner as the Trump administration has asserted;
  • The ban will impact more Iranians and Iranian Americans than any other group on the restricted countries list. National Iranian American Council’s analysis predicts that Muslim Ban 3.0 will disproportionately impact Iranians with 62% of those potentially impacted being Iranian nationals, according to 2016 State Department data;
  • Even when the Muslim ban has not been in effect, it has applied “Extreme Vetting” measures that have resulted in a dramatic decline in visa issuance to the targeted Muslim-majority countries.

Legislative and Political Efforts to Overturn the Ban:

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

December 8, 2017
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: (407) 408-0494

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.


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.

The Iranian: ‘Muslim Travel Ban’: Reactions To The Supreme Court Ruling

NIAC Frustrated with Muslim Ban Being Allowed Back into Effect

Contact: Shayan Modarres
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.”


NPR: How The U.S. Defines Race And Ethnicity May Change Under Trump

Trump Turns Terror Into Political Opportunity That Threatens Iranian Americans

Donald Trump has seized on the terror attack in New York this past week to advance a political agenda that directly threatens the Iranian-American community.

Immediately following the attack in Manhattan on Tuesday, the President took to Twitter – not to offer leadership or any pragmatic policies to address such acts – but to exploit the event for political gain. He attacked his political opponents and doubled-down on his calls to close off the United States to the outside world.

Iranian Americans have witnessed firsthand how this administration has utilized supposed national security policies to marginalize immigrant communities – starting with the Muslim ban and attempts to circumvent courts to ban grandmothers. Now, President Trump is exploiting New York’s tragedy to call for an increase in his “extreme vetting” policy and a shutdown of our nation’s diversity visa program.

Sadly, even as the courts have suspended President Trump’s attempts at a Muslim ban, he has managed to at least partially enact a  de facto ban via this “extreme vetting” policy. As a result, we have seen a dramatic decrease in visas issued to individuals from Muslim-majority countries, particularly countries on Trump’s initial Muslim ban list.

Meanwhile, Trump’s allies in Congress have seized on the attacks to call for the dismantling of the diversity visa program – and even signaling out the large number of Iranian beneficiaries of the program as a reason for termination. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) tweeted:


Many Iranian Americans would not be here were it not for the programs that Trump is working to shut down. If Trump’s policies had been in place over the past four decades, there would be no Iranian-American community.

Instead of serving Americans, the President and his allies’ agenda has fostered insecurity in the lives of millions across the country – offering the promise of trading our liberties for security, and placing the brunt of those sacrifices on immigrant communities. Supposed security policies like the Muslim Ban and “extreme vetting” are not rooted in any serious thinking about national security but instead based on bigotry and campaign rally rhetoric. Bans do not work. None of the attacks in the United States – from September 11th to what just happened in New York – would have been prevented by President Trump’s Muslim Ban.

In fact, the President has actually exacerbated the threat of terrorism for this country. No matter how “extreme” Trump’s vetting policy becomes, a significant body of scholarship suggests that radicalization often occurs within the country where the attack takes place. And President Trump’s own targeting and vilification of Muslims has only contributed to radicalization efforts by terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, whether it be from his reluctance to take a firm stand against the White supremacist violence in Charlottesville, a refusal to even debate the causes of the horrific massacre in Las Vegas, or his reaction to the ISIS-inspired attack in New York City, the President has failed to address terrorism in any serious manner when it actually happens.

Our leaders should indeed be resolute in defending our country. That means not just protecting territory but also protecting the fundamental rights and values that make America great. These two goals are not mutually exclusive. The courts have done their due diligence in assessing whether President Trump’s various actions are constitutional, but it is not their responsibility to determine what most benefits the country. This latter question must be answered by our elected representatives.

Unfortunately, the refusal by many in Congress to allow a vote to rescind the deeply flawed Muslim Ban or even question how “extreme vetting” is really being implemented lends these policies the aura of a Congressional imprimatur and detracts from real solutions to threats. This inaction by Congress permits President Trump to continue to politicize tragedy and exposes our nation to greater risks than any terrorist can inflict. Congress must no longer serve as enablers for this behavior. It is time for lawmakers to rescind the Muslim ban and investigate Trump’s “extreme vetting” efforts that have already done so much damage to our country – and for their voters to hold them accountable if they refuse.

Rep Steve King Attacks ‘Rogue’ Judges in Pro-Muslim Ban Rant

In a committee oversight hearing on the refugee admissions program, House Representative Steve King accused “rogue” judges who have blocked Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban of overstepping their powers. In his statement, King – who has championed Trump’s Muslim ban and been an outspoken anti-Muslim advocate on Capitol Hill – reveals a disturbing misunderstanding of the system of checks and balances provided by the U.S. constitution and an alarming ignorance of immigration legislation in this country.

“I hope that this full Judiciary Committee one day soon addresses the rogue judges that we have in this country, and this includes also Judge Watson out in Hawaii and the judge in Washington that seem to be the venue shopping people that decide that they’re going to challenge the statutes of the United States duly passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by the president of the United States,” King said. He followed the statement with the assertion that Congress “doesn’t say that a judge anywhere can look over his shoulder and determine that his judgement is flawed and their judgement is superior,” ignoring an essential characteristic of U.S. government — the separation of powers.

It is, in fact, the judicial branch’s duty to step in when Congress or the President is in violation of the Constitution. Judges, tasked with interpreting the law, have seen Trump’s Muslim ban as a clear violation of the religious liberty and due process afforded to citizens and immigrants alike by the U.S. Constitution. King peddling the idea that these judges are violating the Constitution demonstrates how far Trump’s backers have drifted away from foundational principles to back his outrageous discriminatory actions. Furthermore, the charge that plaintiffs are venue shopping, or choosing to bring claims in certain jurisdictions or before particular judges, is absurd considering that there are individuals impacted by this ban in nearly every jurisdiction in the U.S.

In addition, King’s retrograde views on immigration policies, although unsurprising from a man who has displayed a Confederate flag on his desk, are not based on fact. “It’s very clear,” King said, “Congress has granted the President the authority to determine who comes and who goes from the United States of America with the security interests of America in mind,” seemingly basing this assertion on outdated legislation.

Congress adopted a provision in 1952 stating that the president “may by proclamation and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens and any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants,” although this provision was essentially nullified when the Immigration and Nationality Act passed in 1965.  While the president is still granted wide authority on the subject of immigration, this legislation banned discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin, something that Trump’s Muslim ban clearly does.

The judicial branch’s injunctions against this ban clearly rest on firm legislative and constitutional grounds. Any attempts by King to characterize these judges as legislating from the bench blatantly ignore both historical precedent and constitutional law.

BBC Newshour: Two US judges order a freeze on Trump’s third travel ban

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