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Advocates and Lawyers Decry Chaos Resulting From Trump’s Unconstitutional Refugee and Muslim Ban, Describe Legal Challenges Ahead

 

On a press call held today, advocates and lawyers for refugees and Muslim immigrants described the immediate chaos already resulting due to Donald Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban and outlined why the ban is unconstitutional and contrary to core American values.

On the call, representatives from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) described the emergency litigation filed earlier today in the Eastern District of New York on behalf of two Iraqi refugees with valid entry permits who were detained at JFK airport last night (link to lawsuit here).

Abed A. Ayoub, Esq., Legal and Policy Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC): “These orders have already led to chaos, including individuals studying abroad who are now stuck in countries they don’t know; people in the U.S. with employment visas, who now can’t go back to see their families; people traveling for funerals who cannot come back home to U.S. This already is having a real and destructive impact on people’s lives.”

Karen Tumlin, Legal Director, National Immigration Law Center: “These orders are shameful and will wreak havoc on those trying to reunite with loved ones. The orders fly in face of religious tolerance and justice and fly in face of our Constitution. At the end of the day, this order makes a mockery of American values.” Tumlin also described emergency litigation filed by NILC, noting, “The Trump Administration may have the bully pulpit, but we have the full force of the Constitution behind us. We will not tolerate these attacks on our values.”

Amit Jain, Law Student Intern at Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, described the ongoing chaos unfolding at JFK Airport in New York, where “dozens and dozens” of people are being held and noted, “In addition to legal filings, public support is crucial to protect our clients and reunite them with their families as soon as possible. Americans agree that this is not who we are.”

Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project: “Donald Trump has dressed up his Muslim ban in a lot of language about national security. But facts on the ground instantly put the lie to the national security window dressing on the Muslim ban. Some of the first ones to suffer the consequences of the ban are people who have been persecuted for their association or family’s association with the United States. The idea that we are now sending a message that says, ‘we are going to turn you around at the border or detain you because you’re a Muslim,’ that’s not helping and is undermining our national security in a deep, deep way. This policy is repugnant in so many ways to our Constitution and our values and it cannot be allowed to be kept in place.”

David Leopold, Cleveland-based immigration lawyer and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), called the Executive Orders “unprecedented and dangerous,” describing “green card holders who work in the United States who can’t get back into the country…suppose we have a doctor who has traveled to a conference…by cutting out permanent residents and tacking it onto a…he has effectively deported lawful permanent residents for no reason other than their religious beliefs and nationality…Donald Trump has effectively deported, without a trial, lawful permanent residents who happened to be out of the country at the time this ban came down…I am a son of a Holocaust survivor…and never did I think I would wake up to this day.”

Melanie Nezer, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, HIAS: “The President’s Executive Order barring Muslims and refugees, signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is having an immediate, immeasurable impact that is being felt worldwide. There are American families that have been waiting for years to be reunited with loved ones who today are learning that their relatives, scheduled to arrive on Monday, or Tuesday, or soon after, will not be allowed to get on their flights. After years of doing everything the U.S. requires – passing security screenings, health screenings, multiple interviews, they are now just being told no. Refugees in transit are being turned back in the middle of their journeys.  It’s unclear if they will be allowed back into the country they left from.  If they are, they are going back to nothing, having sold and given away everything, thinking they would be starting a new life in safety and freedom. If not, they could be returned to persecution.  As a Jewish organization we are outraged, as Americans we reject the pointless, unnecessary suffering that is being inflicted in our name on people who have already suffered so much and want to live in peace.”

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director, America’s Voice Education Fund and the moderator of the call noted, “We need to keep the people who are directly affected in our heart and also think about the chaos this is creating for our country. This has just been the first week of the Trump Administration and he has already sent out edict after edict that undermine core American values and who we are as a country.”

A recording of today’s call will be available on Monday, January 30th. Please email press@americasvoice.org for details