President Trump’s recent executive order has plunged the U.S. immigration system into chaos and met with fierce opposition from the public and civil rights groups. The order, issued late Friday, bans refugees for 120 days — and Syrian refugees indefinitely — as well as suspending travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.
At first triggering protests at airports around the country, the move has now prompted an array of federal lawsuits challenging its constitutionality and enforcement. Here’s a roundup of some of the major challenges so far.
Council for American Islamic Relations
The organization announced Monday that it had filed a complaint in a federal court in Virginia challenging Trump’s executive order as a violation of the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment and due process as protected by the Fifth Amendment.
“This is not a Muslim ban simply. It is a Muslim exclusion order,” said Lena Masri, an attorney on the case. While the order has been dubbed a “Muslim ban,” the complaint alleges it’s also an “exclusion order” due to its apparent intent of initiating the “mass expulsion of immigrant and nonimmigrant Muslims lawfully residing in the United States by denying them the ability to renew their lawful status or receive immigration benefits afforded to them under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.”
Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York (and organizer of the post-inauguration Women’s March on Washington, D.C.), is the lead plaintiff in the suit.
“There’s a broad proclamation that our country has issued an edict that it prefers one religion over another,” said Shereef Akeel, a civil rights lawyer with Council for American Islamic Relations, referring to Trump’s vow that he would prioritize Christian refugees over others. “And that would make our Founding Fathers roll in their graves.”
The lawsuit names Trump, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John F. Kelly, the U.S. State Department, and the director of national intelligence as defendants in the suit.
Washington will become the first state in the country to take legal action against the Trump administration. Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Monday that the state was suing Trump on account of his executive order on immigration. Gov. Jay Inslee joined Ferguson at a news conference when he announced the lawsuit.
“The fact is that its impact, its cruelty, its clear purpose, is an unconscionable religious test,” Inslee said at the conference.
“President Trump may have his alternative facts,” Ferguson added, “but alternative facts do not work in a courtroom.”
The case will be filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington on Monday afternoon and seeks that provisions of Trump’s executive order be declared unconstitutional by a federal judge on the grounds that it violates the right to religious freedom and equal protection under the law. The suit is also seeking a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the immigration order, like detentions at the Sea Tac Airport in Washington.
Attorney generals from 16 states — including New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Washington — released a joint statement Sunday condemning the order.“ We are committed to working to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created,” the statement read.
Ferguson said Monday that he had been in contact with other attorneys general, but at this point, Washington State was taking its own legal action against the Trump administration.
Darweesh v. Trump
This was the case that slammed the brakes on deportations as part of implementing Trump’s executive order. Filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New York on behalf of two Iraqi immigrants — one of whom was an interpreter for the U.S. military during the Iraq War — the case alleged that their detainment and threatened deportation violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Federal District Judge Anne Donnelly, from Brooklyn, granted a temporary emergency stay Saturday — in place until Feb. 21 — which immediately halted deportations and ordered the release of detainees. The enforcement of that court order has been chaotic, with scattered reports of Customs and Border Protection officers choosing to violate the federal order in the interest of upholding Trump’s executive order. The Department of Homeland Security, however, has assured the public that its agents would “comply with judicial orders, faithfully enforce our immigration laws, and implement @POTUS Executive Orders.”
The case, which granted temporary relief, faces a more thorough review by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. A federal judge in Boston signed a similar nationwide order in the suit Tootkaboni v. Trump blocking the deportation of two college professors and others “similarly situated.”
Aziz v. Virginia
A nonprofit legal aid group based in Virginia filed an amended complaint on behalf of two Yemeni brothers, charging that Customs and Border Protection officers at Washington Dulles Airport coerced them into relinquishing their legal status.
The brothers, Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz and Ammar Aqel Mohammad Aziz, had lawfully obtained immigrant visas by virtue of their father’s status as a U.S. citizen, and were entitled to permanent residency. The lawsuit charges that, upon arrival in the U.S. on Saturday morning, the two brothers were cuffed, detained, and coerced into the I-407 form, which relinquished their status and they couldn’t understand. They were put on a flight back to the Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia and are now stuck in “limbo,” according to the suit.
The ACLU of California filed three individual lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs at LAX — one resulted in a court order requiring the government to return an Iranian man who was deported to Dubai, despite having a valid visa. An individual suit was also filed in Seattle by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.