NWIRP and Partners File Class Action Suit Challenging Trump Administration’s “Muslim Ban”

For immediate release

Seattle, Washington

Contact:
Matt Adams, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Legal Director, 206-957-8611, matt@nwirp.org
Jorge Barón, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Executive Director, 206-957-8609, jorge@nwirp.org
Trina Realmuto, National Immigration Project, Litigation Director, 617-227-9727×8, trina@nipnlg.org
Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council, 202-507-7524, wfeliz@immcouncil.org


 

Seattle, Washington – Today, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, American Immigration Council, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild filed a nationwide, class action lawsuit in the District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” on grounds that it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and a statutory prohibition against discrimination. At issue in this suit is Section 3 of the executive order, through which President Donald Trump abruptly suspended immigrant visa processing for nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries, and prohibited their entry into the United States.

 
The lawsuit is filed on behalf of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who have filed visa petitions for their immediate family members who are nationals of the seven countries. The applicants have all gone through a lengthy and rigorous application and screening process, seeking to be reunited with their families in the United States. Since issuance of the executive order, immigrants have been unjustly blocked from entering the United States at airports all across the country. Now, federal government officials are blocking more family members before they even board their planes, and suspending or revoking all other visa applications.

 

Plaintiffs include Reema Dahman, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, who had filed a petition to bring her 16-year-old son, stranded in war-torn Syria, to the United States. The two have not seen each other since 2012. They are now at the last stage of processing, waiting only for an immigrant visa interview to be scheduled. But the President’s executive order has suspended immigrant visa interviews, putting safety and security further out of the boy’s reach and further delaying the boy’s reunification with his mother.

 

Ms. Dahman described the moment she realized her separation from her son would continue by saying, “I’m heartbroken. Every day I am filled with anguish at what might become of my son, and this order just crushed my hopes that I could get him out of harm’s way anytime soon.”
Plaintiff Juweiya Ali’s 6-year-old Somali son is also in limbo. Ms. Ali, a U.S. citizen, began the process to bring him to the United States in August 2016. But they too now are left to worry that the visa process will remain suspended indefinitely.

 

Like thousands before them, these plaintiffs have diligently pursued the rigorous immigrant visa process, which includes paying hundreds of dollars in filing fees, undergoing security screenings and medical examinations, and attending an interview before a consular officer.

 

The  January 27, 2017 executive order seeking to ban Muslims, issued by President Donald Trump, has shattered the plaintiffs’ lives and their prospects for being reunited as well as the lives and reunification prospects of hundreds of similarly situated families and individuals.

 

Section 3 of the executive order violates Congress’ clear intent in Section 202(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to prevent discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas “because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.”  It also violates Plaintiffs’ constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law and rights to family, marriage, and equal protection under the law.

 

Plaintiffs and prospective class members seek judicial intervention to cease application of Section 3 of the executive order to persons in the immigrant visa process—U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have successfully petitioned for the immigration of a family member and nationals of the seven designated countries who have applied for visas—to prevent ongoing and future harm to these individuals.  Such intervention is needed to protect the integrity of the United States’ immigrant visa process and the families diligently seeking to reunite with their loved ones.

 

“The Constitution and immigration laws plainly prohibit the government from denying visas or suspending processing based on this type of discrimination,” said Matt Adams, Legal Director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “President Trump is tearing families apart, not to protect our country, but to score points with his anti-immigrant supporters.”

 

“This discriminatory and ill-conceived policy flies in the face of this country’s values and the legitimacy of our immigration system,” said Trina Realmuto, Litigation Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “We hope that the court will put a stop to the senseless separation of  families.”

 

“Section 3 of the Executive Order is as unnecessary as it is discriminatory,” stated Mary Kenney, a Senior Attorney at American Immigration Council. “All visa applicants and visa holders who seek to immigrate to the United States already are subject to vigorous screening and review—no matter their country of origin.  There is no legitimate basis to single out nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries and refuse to process their visa applications or honor visas that have already been issued.”

 

A copy of the compliant can be found here.

A copy of the executive order can be found here.