Legal Challenges to Trump Refugee and Muslim Ban Highlight Ongoing Chaos and Noncompliance with Nationwide Injunction

Legal Challenges to Trump Refugee and Muslim Ban Highlight Ongoing Chaos and Noncompliance with Nationwide Injunction

by January 30, 2017

New York, NY: On Saturday evening, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York issued a temporary nationwide injunction to block the deportation of people stranded in U.S. airports due to President Trump’s new refugee and Muslim ban (see the reactions of ACLU and NILC to the stay orders).

On a press call held today, refugee and immigrant advocates and experts joined with members of the Darweesh v. Trump litigation team, who had filed the emergency lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqi refugees with valid entry permits who were detained at JFK airport. In addition to describing the scope and implications of the legal ruling, speakers highlighted the chaos that continues to result from this discriminatory and unconstitutional executive order and reacted to the outpouring of support from Americans who are showing up at airports.

Disturbingly, the speakers highlighted numerous examples of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) personnel refusing to comply with the judge’s nationwide ruling, as well as the continued failure of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide accessible information and clear guidance.

Elica Vafaie, Staff Attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice noted one example of the noncompliance, highlighting: “We have two elderly Iranians being held and detained” [at San Francisco International Airport]. “They have a valid visa and this is a clear violation of the court order. ”

Noting the noncompliance, Becca Heller, Director and Co-Founder of International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), stated that despite the legal victory leading to a temporary injunction, “there is a lot more work to be done.” Heller described that in addition to “rogue CBP agents not following orders, we heard over a dozen instances of attempts to coerce people to surrender their green card and take ‘voluntary departure.’ The government must provide the names of those being detained as their legal rights are being egregiously violated and need to be fought.”

Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center noted, “Last night, justice prevailed and America prevailed as a federal District Court issued a nationwide stay. But now we’re grappling with the fact that, on-the-ground, we are seeing blatant disregard for the federal court order and the rule of law. We, as Americans, should demand that our government rescind this heinous and unconstitutional executive order. We will not stop fighting until the government protects the rights of our clients and every single individual like them.”

Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, described how “any civil rights movement needs both legal and technical support as well as support on the ground from the public,” noting that those opposed to this executive order already have both legal and public support behind them. Gelernt then described the legal process that unfolded leading to the nationwide injunction and pledged to keep fighting against “discrimination based on religion,” which he called “antithetical to who we are.” For additional reactions from Lee Gelernt and ACLU see here.

Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York highlighted the groundswell of public opposition to the executive order, calling it, “an organic response of people not willing to tolerate mistreatment of Muslims, refugees, and immigrants at JFK and across the country.” Noting that she knew of actions in at least 49 different locations across America, Axt said, “In places from Newark to the South to Boston and at airports and in cities alike, people are saying ‘we will not tolerate this.’”

Rachel Wilf, Law Student Intern at Yale Law School’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, noted that, “Government counsel has acknowledged that the District Judge’s ruling has nationwide effect. If Customs and Border Protection officers put anyone covered by the order on a plane, they are acting illegally and in violation of a federal court order. Thousands of Americans across the country turned out this weekend. The American people are showing their opposition to this inhumane and unconstitutional policy and their support for the arriving immigrants and refugees … Trump’s Executive Order violates fundamental American values. This ruling is an important step to ensure that we comply with the Constitution and with our moral obligations.” Wilf also highlighted that they are closely monitoring reports and examples of noncompliance by the U.S. government and encouraged anyone who hears of any noncompliance to report this information to petitioners’ counsel through the following email address: stopCBP@mailman.yale.edu For additional reactions from Yale Law School, see here.

And Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund and the moderator of the call, reacted to the first week of the Trump presidency and its executive orders by saying, “This is what a Deportation Force looks like. No one should be surprised that this is happening, as Donald Trump has promised it for more than a year. Republicans in Congress have to realize that this is the monster they have created.”

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