Image by Masha George via Flickr

Muslim & Refugee Bans 3.0 Legal Update

On July 14 federal district court judge Derrick Watson struck a blow to the Trump administration’s enforcement of the Muslim and refugee bans. The court ruled that the Trump administration’s interpretation of “bona fide relationship” was too narrow and “represents the antithesis of common sense.”

The judge found that the government cannot “exclude grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States,” nor can it exclude refugees who “have a formal assurance from an agency within the United States that the agency will provide, or ensure the provision of, reception and placement services to that refugee, or are in the U.S. Refugee Admission Program through the Lautenberg Program.” The Muslim and refugee bans are still in effect, but the ruling narrows their reach. The Trump administration has appealed the decision directly to the Supreme Court.

Impact of Bans

Although the courts have limited implementation of the bans, a partial ban is still a ban. In addition, the bans have a chilling effect and discourage immigration to the U.S., especially from Muslim majority countries and refugees generally. The Washington Post reports that the number of refugees entering the U.S. in the first six months of 2017 is down 34% from the prior year and the number of Muslim refugees is down 40%.

Despite having a valid J-1 visa, Mohsen Dehnavi, an Iranian cancer researcher, and his family were sent back to Iran shortly after landing at Logan International Airport on July 12. Dehnavi was traveling to the U.S. to serve as a visiting scholar at Boston children’s hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. CPB declared him “inadmissible” and denied a report that it was due to the Muslim Ban. However, because of conflicting interpretations of the SCOTUS ruling and “bona fide relationships,” arbitrary decisions are being made at airports and U.S. embassies across the world.

Targeted Deportations

More than 1,400 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. have been protected from deportation due to a nationwide injunction valid until at least July 24. Federal district court judge Mark Goldsmith halted deportations while he considers a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 114 Iraqis arrested in the Detroit area in June. There have also been ICE raids in the Nashville area targeting the Kurdish community; “officers have been knocking on doors and asking questions without warrants, surrounding people with vehicles and going to their workplaces.”

  • For the American Muslim Advisory Council’s resources, including Kurdish-language videos and an intake form, please visit https://www.amactn.org/ice
  • For Iraqi nationals facing removal, please complete this ACLU intake form. For attorneys willing to provide pro bono counsel, please complete this form.

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