February 04, 2017

The Center for New Americans, The Advocates for Human Rights, AMA Law Group PLLC, Apollo Law LLC, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC (acting as local counsel) filed a lawsuit on Friday in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to block enforcement of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order targeting refugees and nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries.

The suit involves two Minnesota families. In both situations, the husbands are residents of the United States and their wives had passed all background checks, submitted all necessary documents, completed all necessary interviews and been approved for immigrant visas, making them eligible for green cards upon entering the U.S.

In the first case, Farshid M. Zadeh, a legal U.S. resident, and his wife, Samaneh Raghimi, who had quit her job as a professor at Azad University to move to the U.S. to be with her husband, were on a flight from Tehran, Iran, when the Executive Order was signed. When the couple landed in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Raghimi was notified that she would not be allowed to fly to the United States. Financial considerations forced Zadeh to return to Minnesota, and his wife to Tehran.

In the second case, after a five-year screening process, the wife of Mohamed Iye, a U.S. citizen born in Somalia, was approved on January 18 to come to the U.S. on an immigrant visa, with the couple’s two young children, who are U.S. citizens. One of the daughters, a 4-year-old, has microcephaly and requires special medical care. On January 28, she was informed they would not be able to board their February 4 flight to Amsterdam. The family has no housing and the child cannot receive the care she needs in Nairobi, where they currently are.

This case is another example of the fear generated by this Executive Order and the tremendous and abrupt harm that it has caused families.  As is evident in this case, the Executive Order violates a number of protections under the U.S. Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act. It intentionally discriminates against these permanent residents and visa holders based on religion and national original, in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. It attempts to create a “legal” Muslim ban that has had a disparate impact on these family members, in violation of the Establishment Clause.  It also creates a de facto travel ban to the U.S. for all individuals from impacted countries, regardless of their immigration status, in violation of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. Finally, the Executive Order suspends entry of these legal visa holders based on their nationality alone, in violation of the anti-discrimination clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

This lawsuit joins a national wave of litigation challenging the legality and constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s January 27th Executive Order.  The nationwide Temporary Restraining Order issued by a federal court in Washington state late yesterday temporarily suspending the travel ban is positive news and a hopeful sign that the judge will ultimately rule that it must be permanently lifted. Nonetheless, the confusion, fear and chaos it has created for Minnesota's refugee and immigrant communities remains a concern. 

Complaint - February 3, 2017

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Note: Mohamed Iye and his family are to arrive Sunday, February 5, at MSP via Delta from Amsterdam at noon, CT.