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HIAS Files Amicus Brief Opposing Refugee Ban

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Mar 03, 2017

Blog Post

Rachel Nusbaum, HIAS.org

The E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., home to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

(AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikimedia)

There are so many legal challenges to President Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban pending in courts across the country, it can be hard to keep track. We’ve covered HIAS’ challenge to the order, as well as the recent motion we filed seeking an injunction on the lowered refugee cap for 2017, elsewhere on the HIAS blog.

In Washington, D.C., Pars Equality Center v. Trump alleges that “the order is simply candidate Trump’s Muslim ban by another name, and as such it violates the First and Fifth amendments of the U.S. Constitution,” according to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law, part of the legal team working on this case. “The order also irrationally and arbitrarily singles out nationals of Iran and six other countries,” they note.

The Pars Equality Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to “helping all members of the Iranian-American community and other Persian-speaking countries realize their full potential as informed, self-reliant, and responsible members of American society.”

On Wednesday night, HIAS filed an amicus or “friend of the court” brief in this case, in support of the plaintiffs.

“This case tests the propriety of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order No. 13,769, which, among other things, temporarily suspends the entire U.S. Refugee Admission Program. As the world’s oldest refugee protection and resettlement agency, HIAS has a considerable interest in USRAP, as well as unique insight into the practical consequences of the suspension of the program,” the brief notes.

Our brief also highlights some of the individuals who have been impacted by this order, to show the specific ways in which “the Executive Order is causing needless and unjustifiable irreparable harm to vulnerable refugees and their families.” Families like Daniel’s. 

Daniel* is a lawful permanent resident and refugee originally from Ethiopia. Daniel’s wife and child live in Cairo, Egypt where they are awaiting resettlement to the U.S., where the family will finally be reunited. It has been more than a year and half since Daniel last saw his wife and child. His wife is a Christian and she lives in fear of persecution because of her faith. She also struggles to provide for herself and her child given the very limited support the Egyptian government provides to refugees. Extending their separation is the definition of needless and unjustified harm.

Other stories of husbands and wives separated—perhaps indefinitely—simply because they are Somali, for instance, are similarly disturbing.

One of our clients is a Sudanese refugee, resettled to the U.S. after a decade in a refugee camp in Kenya, who has been separated from his entire family by this abrupt order.

The list goes on and on. Families are being torn apart, separated indefinitely, while those here worry everyday about the safety of their loved ones abroad. At the individual level, the magnitude of each heartbreak, each family’s disaster, becomes clearer with each passing day.

HIAS has filed an amicus brief in this and other challenges, as well as our own legal action, in the hopes that the courts will reject this unconstitutional horror and end the terrifying limbo these families are caught in.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of our client

UPDATE: On March 10, HIAS filed a motion asking for a preliminary injunction on President Trump’s revised refugee ban. Read more.