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Legal Action Launched Against Trump’s Latest Muslim Ban (Updated)

Auditi Guha

"You shouldn’t have to file a lawsuit to see your fiancé or grandmother, but that’s what we have to do so that our plaintiffs can be reunited with their loved ones.”

UPDATE, December 4, 4:56 p.m.: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that President Trump’s Muslim travel ban can take full effect. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the ruling, according to Bloomberg.

Two lawsuits were filed Monday against the third version of President Trump’s long-promised travel ban to bar Muslims from entering the United States, which advocates say is still “unjust and unlawful” and “an assault on bedrock American values.”

Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump, filed in U.S District Court in the District of Maryland Southern Division, claims that Trump’s September 24 proclamation “penalizes nationals of the targeted Muslim majority countries,” harms U.S. citizens with ties to those countries, and violates constitutional protections against discrimination like the previous two orders.

“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,” Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the nonprofit National Iranian American Council, said in a statement. “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.”

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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 information on “extreme vetting” measures and how the countries covered by the so-called Muslim Ban 3.0 were chosen.  

The lawsuit follows a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by civil rights groups in July that the administration has ignored, a release stated.

“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,” Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, said in a statement. 

The lawsuits were announced Tuesday by Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Covington & Burling LLP, the National Iranian American Council, and the Brennan Center.

“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,” Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement. “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 that our plaintiffs can be reunited with their loved ones.”

Not only is this the Muslim ban the one campaign promise Trump has been consistent about; it’s the most dangerous and is the ultimate attack on religious freedom, which is why, advocates said, they will continue to resist it.

The Brennan Center has released a report titled “Extreme Vetting and the Muslim Ban” identifying three key failings of the travel ban: “their failure to enhance national security, engendered in part by the administration’s perhaps willful blindness to the fact that the U.S. already has one of the world’s most rigorous visitor screening systems; their discriminatory nature and reliance on unproven methodologies that target particular groups; and their real costs, including economic harm, to the American people.”

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