Immigrant Rights Groups File Class Action Suit Challenging Trump Administration’s “Muslim Ban”
Ali V. Trump, et al., No. 2:17-cv-00135 (D. Wash. filed January 30, 2017)
On January 30, 2017, the American Immigration Council, along with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the National Immigration Project filed a nationwide, class action lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” on grounds that it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and statutory prohibition against discrimination. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have filed immigrant visa petitions for their immediate family members who are nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The applicants have all gone through a lengthy and rigorous application and screening process in hopes of reuniting with their families in the United States. Now, these applicants, many who have already been approved to enter the United States, are being blocked from reuniting with their families, and the federal government is suspending or revoking their other visa applications.
On March 6, 2017, following a temporary restraining order issued in the related lawsuit Washington v. Trump, which blocked implementation of the first executive order, the Trump Administration filed a new executive order. This new order not only bears the same name as the first executive order, it also continues the same unlawful and discriminatory practices perpetuated by the first order. On March 10, 2017, the Council filed an amended complaint challenging the second executive order, as well as an amended request for a temporary restraining order and an amended request for class certification. This amended complaint makes clear that the second executive order is tainted with the same discriminatory animus as the first executive order, and should be blocked just as the first order was.
At issue in the Council’s suit is Section 2 of the second executive order. Like Section 3 of the first executive order, Section 2 suspends immigrant visa processing for nationals of six predominantly Muslim countries and prohibits nationals from these countries from entering the United States.
This section violates an explicit statutory prohibition on discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas “because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” It also violates Plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected rights to family, marriage, and equal protection under the law, and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
Plaintiffs and prospective class members seek judicial intervention to cease the application of the discriminatory executive order to persons in the immigrant visa process—U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have successfully petitioned for the immigration of a family member and nationals of the seven designated countries who have applied for visas—to prevent ongoing and future harm to these individuals. Such intervention is needed to protect the integrity of the United States’ immigrant visa process and the families diligently seeking to reunite with their loved ones.
On March 15, 2017, the District Court held a hearing on plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order, which sought to halt implementation of the provisions in the second Executive Order that barred entry on valid immigrant visas and suspended adjudication of immigrant visa applications. That same day, district courts in Hawaii and Maryland held hearings in other cases challenging the second Executive Order. Both of those courts issued injunctions before the District Court in Ali ruled. Consequently, on Friday, March 17, 2017, the District Court issued an order indicating that, because of the other two injunctions, it was not necessary for it to rule on the Ali plaintiffs request for an injunction at this time.