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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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.

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.

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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New Muslim Ban Imminent

Travelers, and family members of travelers from countries targeted under the Muslim ban, should be prepared for possible confusion, delay, and disruption as a result of a new Muslim ban that may be unveiled this weekend.

According to our information, the Trump administration’s Muslim ban targeting Iran and five other Muslim-majority countries could be replaced with a new ban as early as today. Details of the newest version of the Muslim ban are still unknown, but according to reports, restrictions could differ on a country-by-country basis. Additionally, the Muslim ban 3.0 is expected to be expanded to target travelers from other countries such as Central America or South Asia.

NIAC is continuing to monitor the situation and is working closely with partner advocacy groups to respond effectively to any new Muslim ban. We encourage all travelers and family members of travelers to read our Know Your Rights resource to ensure that you are fully informed of your rights at U.S. airports across the country. A Farsi version of the Know Your Rights is also available here.

If you believe your rights have been violated or you have questions about the Muslim ban 3.0, please contact me via email at: smodarres@niacouncil.org.

Sunday marks the conclusion of the 90-day policy review period under the original version of the travel ban. If the Trump Administration does issue a new Muslim ban, it may have a significant impact on the Supreme Court case – and the articulated “bona fide relationship” standard – ahead of the October 10 oral argument. The specific impact of a Muslim ban 3.0 is still unclear as we have yet to obtain text of a reported replacement ban.

NIAC will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

Shayan Modarres, Esq.
Legal Counsel

NIAC Praises 9th Circuit Court Rejecting Trump Administration’s Latest Attempt to Ban Grandmothers

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: (407) 408-0494
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is extremely pleased with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the lower court ruling that grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins are “bona fide relationships” under the Supreme Court’s guidance and should be exempt from the Trump administration’s Muslim ban.

“Almost every court in the country that has had the opportunity to examine President Trump’s Muslim ban has reached the conclusion that it is unconstitutional,” said Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for NIAC. “In the face of defeat, the Trump administration tried to double down and ban grandmothers and close family, and we are relieved that this latest effort to tear families apart has also failed.”

The Muslim ban is set to be heard by the Supreme Court on October 10th. But already, visa applicants have been confronted with new obstacles implemented by the Trump administration. Earlier this year, an “extreme vetting” policy was unveiled which has subjected an unspecified class of visa applicants to heightened scrutiny and significantly driven down the number of visas issued. Last week, the administration announced that certain employment-based visa applicants would be subject to in-person interviews, which could have a negative impact on visa processing times and costs.

“While today’s decision is further confirmation of the unconstitutionality of President Trump’s Muslim ban and attempts to ban grandmothers under the guise of national security, much work remains. The President has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to cruel, inhumane and racist immigration policies, and we are confident that he will continue to be disappointed in courts across our country.”

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