Image by Geoff Livingston via Flickr

Muslim & Refugee Bans 3.0 Legal Update

Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson ruled against the Trump administration’s implementation of the Muslim and refugee bans, Judge Watson found that extended family, including grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States, counted as “bona fide relationships” and that refugees who have an established relationship with American refugee sponsorship organizations could not be banned. The White House immediately appealed to the Supreme Court, seeking to reinstate its interpretation.

On July 19, the Supreme Court affirmed Judge Watson’s decision in part, finding that the administration could not impose a blanket prohibition on people from the six Muslim majority ban countries who have grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives in the U.S. But it also granted the government’s request to put on hold a part of the lower court’s order that would have made it easier for more refugees to enter the country. That order could have granted entry to about 24,000 refugees who were already working with resettlement agencies.

The National Immigration Law Center announced in a press release that although “family unity won today,” it will continue to litigate “to ensure that refugees can find the shelter they were offered by settlement agencies in the United States.”

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for October 10. For additional information, please review this full timeline of the Muslim and refugee bans curated by HIAS and this legal implementation timeline created by Muslim Advocates and Penn State Law School.

Impact of the Ban

Meanwhile, “Trump Is Stealthily Carrying Out His Muslim Ban” through other insidious means like, “increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court.” The State Department is likewise intensifying “extreme vetting” practices by demanding that visa applicants submit years of personal data including social media account identifiers.

On July 18, the House of Representatives held a vote on Trump’s Muslim Ban. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) called for a vote in the Appropriations committee, hoping to block DHS funding for any implementation of the Muslim ban that would ban a grandparent, grandchild, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin of a U.S. person. The amendment failed because every Republican, except Charlie Dent, voted against it.

The ban has deeply wounded black and African persons and families because nearly half of the targeted countries are in Africa. Juweiya Ali, a 24-year-old U.S. citizen and a home health aide in Seattle, is the lead plaintiff in Ali v. Trump, a class-action lawsuit on behalf of four families seeking to reunite with their minor children. Ali’s 7-year-old son currently lives with his grandmother in Somalia and was in the final stages of receiving a visa when the ban was implemented. The child’s visa process has now been suspended indefinitely.

Essence reports that since the inception of the ban, “some 60,000 already issued visas—the result of years of screenings and paperwork—were revoked without warning, prompting travelers to file dozens of lawsuits against the current administration.”

Action Items

We encourage people to plan events and discussions between now and October to raise awareness of the impact of the bans, and to center the stories and perspectives of the communities most affected. Send us information about your event for the NoBanNoWallNoRaids community calendar.


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