SCOTUS Just Approved Bigotry. Now What?

While we had hoped that justice and equality would triumph over hate and discrimination, we also suspected the Supreme Court, given its current makeup, would side with Trump. So we planned ahead. Our strategy is focused on terminating the ban through political organizing and legislative action.

Our Strategy Moving Forward

  1. Expose the lawmakers supporting Trump’s ban. The current Republican-led Congress has blocked a vote to repeal the Muslim Ban.
  2. Uncover the information that Trump is hiding. That is why we worked with Senator Chris Van Hollen to require Trump to turn over documents that will lay the groundwork for repeal. to lay the groundwork for a vote to repeal the ban.
  3. Organize to elect a new Congress this November that will vote to overturn the ban.
  4. Pass legislation to repeal the ban once and for all.

Have Questions on the Decision?

If you’re wondering what yesterday’s ruling means for you, we offer some answers in our FAQ. To see our legal analysis on the decision, look here.

Want to Get Involved?

We need your support. You can donate your time and you can donate your money. See where your representatives stand on the issue, and contact them. If you’ve been impacted by the ban, share your story with us.

Justice Kennedy’s retirement, announced today, raises the stakes even further for the upcoming elections. It’s crucial our community has a voice in November, so I hope you’ll be part of our efforts.

If our community is fully invested, we will overturn this ban. 

NIAC Action Joins Civil Rights Groups in Opposing Expansion to ‘Extreme Vetting’

NIAC Action has joined a coalition of civil rights organizations today warning against the Trump Administration’s proposed expansion of its ‘extreme vetting’ policies.

Last May, NIAC Action’s sister organization, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), expressed deep concern with the proposed policy of ‘extreme vetting’ which collects social media identifiers, phone numbers and email addresses used within the past five years, as well as travel history and documentary proof of funding sources for travel for the past 15 years, among other things. Initially, the State Department ventured to gather this information for an unspecified subset of visa applicants.

Under the State Department’s new proposal, the Trump administration seeks to cast a wider net in screening the social media accounts of almost all visa applicants to make adverse visa eligibility determinations.

NIAC Action joined groups including the Brennan Center for Justice and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), in sending a public comment to the State Department opposing the Department’s new proposal.

The coalition’s public comment reiterates the positions that have been echoed to this administration for the past year: information gathered through social media is unreliable and difficult to interpret, social media collection will chill free speech and result in the inevitable incidental collection of information from third parties and American citizens, and this policy–considered against the backdrop of a broader ‘Muslim Ban’ framework aimed at targeting certain individuals based on national origin and religion–has the potential to be discriminatory in impact and intent.

“Proposals by the federal government to use social media to make adverse visa determinations have been consistently opposed by privacy, civil liberties, civil rights, and other civil society groups,” the letter states. “And the government’s own studies have not produced evidence that social media screening programs work.”

Read the full letter here.

Earlier this year, NIAC filed a lawsuit against the State Department for its failure to respond to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting documents which would provide critical data and shine a light on how the administration has been interpreting, implementing, and enforcing ‘extreme vetting’ through data collection. As of today, the administration has still not provided the requested documents to NIAC.

NIAC Action repeats its call on Congress to intervene and immediately enact legislation rejecting this administrations latest attempt to broaden ‘extreme vetting’ data collection. After twelve months of sustained efforts to fulfill the president’s promise to have a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” it should be abundantly clear to members of Congress that this administration will stop at nothing to achieve this objective, even at the expense of Free Speech rights and other constitutional protections.

Trump’s Muslim Ban Undermines American Interests

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats” barring entry into the U.S. for foreign nationals from eight countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has introduced legislation (S. 1979) to block implementation of the new ban, which has 32 cosponsors. In the House of Representatives, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) has introduced matching legislation (H.R. 4271) to block the ban.

Still a Muslim Ban, Still Permanent

The Trump Administration is fulfilling its campaign promise to impose a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…” Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani indicated that the President asked him how to implement a Muslim ban legally prior to the first Executive Order, and advisor Stephen Miller indicated that the second order will feature only minor technical changes and will result in the same fundamental policy. This third order seeks to extend the ban on an indefinite basis as articulated in the March 6 Executive Order.


This new order will permanently bar Iranians and other nationals from America, with few exceptions. While the first and second versions of the ban were ostensibly for a period of 90 days to ensure a review of vetting requirements, the Proclamation issued September 24 has no sunset, meaning it will be indefinite.

This is a propaganda victory for extremist groups like ISIS who have used it as a recruiting tool against the U.S., calling it a “blessed ban.”

Damaging to U.S. Security and Economic Interests

The ban makes American businesses and universities less competitive. It “disrupts ongoing business operations” according to nearly 100 tech companies – including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter – that filed a brief opposing the original ban. The companies say the ban “makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees.”

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc. wants the ban lifted. Schmidt stated, “Iran produces some of the smartest and top computer scientists in the world. I want them here, right? To be clear: I want them working for Alphabet and Google. I’m very very clear on this. It’s crazy not to let these people in.”

The ban is a victory for Iranian hardliners who want to keep Iranians isolated from the U.S. and undermines those who support engagement. Iran’s Supreme Leader said the ban “reveals the true face” of the United States. The result could contribute to a hardliner winning Iran’s presidency in May who favors confrontation over engagement with the U.S.

The ban makes America less safe by diverting resources away from the real threats and instead arbitrarily cracks down on our loved ones. All visa applicants must go through rigorous vetting, though enforcing an arbitrary ban will divert resources in agencies that have successfully protected us.

Punishing American Families

Iranian American families in the U.S. have been particularly harmed by the ban. The ban bars Iranian family members from visiting the United States, while many Iranian Americans are unable to return to Iran because they have been politically active and fear repercussions from the Iranian government. There are countless stories of weddings and family reunions being cancelled or delayed indefinitely.

When the Supreme Court ruled Trump could not ban close family in June, the Trump Administration tried to argue that our grandparents did not count and should still be banned. Muslim ban 3.0 included no exemptions for bona fide relations, though the courts have since stepped in to bar the administration from banning family members and those with ties to U.S. institutions such as a university. If these protections are overturned, the ban will once again be fully enforced including by targeting family members.

An Irrational Counterterrorism Policy

Not a single person has been killed in the U.S. by a terrorist attack committed by people from the countries subjected to Trump’s ban. None of the 9/11 hijackers would have been targeted by this ban. Neither would the San Bernardino attackers or the Orlando nightclub gunman.September 11th was staged by 15 Saudi, 2 UAE, 1 Egyptian, and 1 Lebanese terrorist. San Bernardino was conducted by 1 Pakistani American and 1 Pakistani who was radicalized in Saudi Arabia. The Orlando nightclub attack was committed by 1 Afghan American.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis disputed the security benefits of the ban. After the initial ban was suspended, the Trump administration sought affirmation from agencies by requesting intelligence to support its pre-determined policy of a Muslim ban, though no convincing justification was found. A DHS intelligence report indicated that nationals of the targeted countries are “rarely implicated in U.S.-based terrorism,” and that citizenship is an “unreliable indicator of terrorist threat to the United States.”

The criteria used to justify the new proclamation are applied arbitrarily. Many countries that failed to meet the criteria were excluded from travel restrictions under the proclamation. While only 9 countries were targeted in the ban, 86 countries did not issue an electronic passport while 16 failed to report any stolen or lost passports. In 2016, thirteen nations were identified by the Department of State as terrorist safe havens, though only three countries – Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen – were targeted under the proclamation.

The overwhelming majority of so-called “radical Islamic” terrorism attacks in the U.S. have been committed by lone wolf attackers with no sponsorship. Such lone wolves include the Boston bombers, San Bernardino shooters, Orlando nightclub shooter, OSU shooter, Fort Hood shooter and New York truck attacker. The only recent example of terrorism on U.S. soil that may have included some state sponsorship was 9/11 and the alleged sponsors were certain Saudi officials. It is also notable that all of these particular terrorists adhered to an extreme Wahhabi ideology that also views most Iranians as apostates.

Nobody from the banned countries receives a visa without visiting an embassy or consulate. Former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, now Trump’s Chief of Staff, has on numerous occasions misleadingly suggested that vetting cannot occur in countries without a U.S. consulate without adding that individuals in states without consulates must still visit a consulate. Iranians, for example, travel to consulates in Dubai, Ankara or Yerevan to attend visa interviews.

Punishing the Iranian People

The ban will impact more Iranians and Iranian Americans than any other group on the restricted countries list. Muslim Ban 3.0 disproportionately impacts Iranians with 62% of those potentially impacted being Iranian nationals. However, it is likely that many Iranians will begin to self-select out of the application process altogether in favor of other Western countries.  

Iranians are one of the only populations in the region who have positive views of the United States. After 9/11, Iranians held vigils in solidarity with America. Iranians want to buy American goods and study in American schools. Donald Trump may single-handedly destroy this goodwill. The majority of Iranians view the American people favorably according to a poll conducted by the University of Maryland one year after the nuclear deal. 80% of Iranians supported increased tourism and 68% supported more cultural and athletic exchanges such as the recent trip by the U.S. wrestling team to Tehran which occurred without incident.

The ban does nothing to punish the Iranian government for its inclusion on the U.S. State Sponsors of Terror list. The punishment is almost exclusively felt by innocent Iranian nationals who seek entry into the United States for educational purposes, family visits, tourism, and medical care. It is these people seeking a positive connection with America – not Iranian government officials – who are targeted.

Iran remains a stable country and is neither a failed state nor a conflict zone. This map of 2015 terrorist attacks generated by the University of Maryland reveals that Iran is wedged between terrorism hotspots that are not on the list:

A PDF version of this Memo can be found here.

NIAC Action, AAAJ, and CAIR Condemn Attempted “Backdoor Muslim Ban,” Mobilize Community to Oppose Proposal, Groups Facilitate Submission of Approximately 1,900 Comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The public comment period for the proposal to make the Trump Administration’s Backdoor Muslim Ban permanent ends today. NIAC Action (sister organization to the National Iranian American Council), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (“Advancing Justice”), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”) are announcing that their coordinated campaign against this discriminatory policy during the public comment period was successful.  Since launching in early September, the three organizations helped facilitate approximately 1,900 comments against this policy by organizing the community to use their web portals.

If approved, this policy would allow the Trump Administration to continue to gather huge amounts of personal data about visa applicants, including social media history from the past five years and travel history for the past fifteen years, simply to justify rejecting Muslim applicants.  

“Our community wants what any other community would want: the freedom to proudly express our identities freely and without fear of discrimination,” said Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for NIAC Action. “This policy of extreme vetting based on national origin and religious belief is discriminatory, unconstitutional and not the country we should be.”

“This administration has shown time and again that enacting a Muslim Ban by any possible means is their flagship policy,” said Christina Sinha, a National Security Staff Attorney with Advancing Justice. “Changing the policy’s packaging does not change what is inside –and what is inside is a backdoor attempt to institute yet another unconstitutional Muslim Ban.”

“For decades, our communities have witnessed a continual erosion of our civil and human rights,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert McCaw. “From registries and profiling to regular harassment, we have endured these attacks on our rights and our humanity. This comment period was an opportunity to stand up to all anti-Muslim policies that have tried to silence us and to speak up for our values as a community, and as a country.”

The web portals were set up in order to assist affected communities, and the general public, in submitting their comments about this proposal by providing a platform to make their voices heard.  The groups conducted community outreach to alert the community about the plan; created a video in several different languages to help explain the government’s proposal; encouraged people to comment; joined a Coalition of civil and human rights organizations in opposing the policy; and filed their own organization comments.  

Advancing Justice, CAIR, and NIAC Action are committed to combating the Backdoor Muslim Ban and every attempt by the Trump Administration to target the Muslim community.  No matter its iteration, our communities will rise up to demand #NoMuslimBanEver.

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NIAC Action is the grassroots, civic action organization advancing peace and championing the priorities of the Iranian-American community.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all.  Its members are: Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Advancing Justice-AAJC, and Advancing Justice-Chicago.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.  Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Urgent: Help us fight Trump’s new Iranian ban

Donald Trump just signed a new Muslim ban that will severely impact Iranians and their families in the U.S. We are analyzing the text of the order and will provide updates as they develop but it confirms what we have long warned: the Trump administration is making its Muslim ban against Iranians and other nationals permanent and will cement a racist and discriminatory campaign promise into official U.S. policy unless we convince the courts and Congress to intervene.

Effective today, all immigrant and nonimmigrant visas will be suspended for Iranians, except student visas (M and F visas) and student exchange students (J visas) – though such travelers will be subject to increased scrutiny. All entries of Syrian and North Korean nationals with visas of any class or green cards are barred. Immigrant visas and most non-immigrant visas to nationals of Chad, Yemen, Venezuela, Libya, and Somalia will also be suspended. Iraq and Sudan have been removed from the list of banned countries.

Additionally, there will be no longer be an exception for travelers with a bona fide U.S. relationship after October 18 – meaning family members of Iranian Americans will once again be banned. The new version of the travel ban is indefinite with no set expiration date.

We are mobilizing now to fight this latest ban with everything we’ve got:

  • Legal: Our legal counsel is working with our coalition partners as we speak on potential litigation to freeze and roll back Trump’s new ban.
  • Grassroots: we are organizing actions around the country with a coalition of civil rights organizations to mobilize popular opinion and increase public pressure against the ban. (You can sign up for rallies in Washington, DC or San Francisco right now).
  • Political: we are reaching out to lawmakers and their staff to urge them to introduce new legislation to rescind Trump’s new ban and to put political pressure on those in Congress who refuse to challenge this president’s heinous bans. We are also prepared to notify lawmakers about specific cases of affected travelers in case Congressional intervention is needed.

Additionally, if you or a family member are affected by the ban please contact our Legal Counsel, Shayan Modarres, at smodarres@niacouncil.org.

We will post our legal analysis and Question and Answers about the new ban on this page (niacouncil.org/noban) shortly. It will be updated frequently as the situation evolves, so please bookmark it.

We face a difficult road ahead but are confident through legal, political, and grassroots pressure we can once again put a freeze on Trump’s ban and ultimately dismantle it. But we need your support if we are going to succeed. Please donate $100, $250, or $500 today so that we have the resources needed to win.

In these challenging times, it takes an organized, motivated community to fight for our rights. We are not going to let Trump target the right’s of our community or any other community, and we’re glad to have your support and participation for the battle ahead.

Tell Trump: “No Backdoor Muslim Ban!”

 

Donald Trump’s illegal Muslim Ban Executive Orders have been knocked down by the courts twice. Now he is trying another way to implement his discriminatory agenda: new “extreme vetting” requirements in visa applications.

If approved, this policy would be devastating for our communities. It would let the Trump Administration gather huge amounts of personal data about visa applicants, including their social media history for the past five years and their travel history for the past fifteen years. The Trump Administration would then be able to use this vast amount of information to reject visas; if they wrongly reject someone’s visa application, it is very hard to fight that decision.

Collecting this social media information is particularly frightening. We have already seen cases where visas were denied because U.S. government officials misunderstood innocent social media posts. Collecting this information on such a vast scale is sure to lead to widespread rejection of visas for inappropriate reasons, and the language about who can be targeted for this information collection is so broad that it can encompass huge groups of people. Given this administration’s unchecked xenophobia and Islamophobia, this policy is sure to be used very heavily against Iranians and other individuals from countries targeted by Trump’s Muslim Ban Executive Order.

The Trump Administration is once again trying to push a Muslim Ban, this time by calling it “extreme vetting.” We should not be fooled. Take action today to protect our communities from this Backdoor Ban!

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and NIAC Action Condemn the Government’s Attempt to Make the “Backdoor Muslim Ban” Permanent

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: 202-780-9590
Email: Shayan@niacaction.org

Groups Announce the Launch of Portals to Facilitate Public Comment on the Troubling Proposal

Washington, D.C. – NIAC Action, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (“Advancing Justice”), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”) strongly condemn the federal government’s proposal to make its “Backdoor Muslim Ban” permanent, and announce the launch of web portals to facilitate public comment.

In May of this year, the Department of State (“DOS”) asked for and received permission to implement a temporary measure allowing it to collect vast amounts of information from certain individuals applying for U.S. visas. Some of the most troubling aspects of the collection include a new, mandatory requirement that applicants provide all social media platforms and handles used in the last five years, as well as a new requirement that applicants provide the details of their domestic and international travel history (including the sources of funding for the travel) for the past fifteen years.

The government now seeks to make that temporary proposal permanent, but before they can do so, they are required to solicit and accept comments from the public about the proposal. NIAC Action, Advancing Justice, and CAIR have developed web portals to assist the public in navigating the comment process, and strongly encourage impacted communities to make their voices heard. NIAC Action’s portal is available here.

“We were confronted with the brutal consequences of stoking fear and racial animus in Charlottesville, Virginia,” said Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for NIAC Action. “Keeping America safe and upholding our values as a country requires decent people to stand up and forcefully reject any discriminatory policy which treats people differently based on their race, nationality or faith. No matter the different ways that President Trump attempts to fulfill his campaign promise of banning Muslims from the United States, we will continue to expose his intent and do whatever we can to prevent a Muslim ban from becoming the permanent policy of the United States of America.”

“Even in the best of times, this kind of unfettered discretion and ability to examine religious, social, and personal beliefs expressed through social media would lead to a dramatic increase in racial profiling,” said Christina Sinha, Staff Attorney and National Security & Civil Rights Program Manager at Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. “But in times such as these, when the government has unapologetically shown blatant animus towards Muslim and immigrant communities, this proposal can only add up to one thing: a Backdoor Muslim Ban.”

“The Trump administration’s push to make permanent discriminatory ‘extreme visa vetting’ is nothing more than a ‘Backdoor Muslim Ban.’ As a nation, we have resisted the president’s unconstitutional Muslim Ban executive orders by rallying at airports and suing the president – we must now make our voices heard once again in this public call for comments,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert McCaw. “Today, the primary targets of these proposed extreme visa vetting standards are people of the Islamic faith from Muslim-majority countries – tomorrow, these same vetting standards could be used against any minority community wrongly vilified as a threat to national security.”

NIAC Action, Advancing Justice, and CAIR are committed to combating this proposal and every attempt by the Trump Administration to target our communities.

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New Legislation Seeks to Put Body Cameras on Airport Officers

Since the implementation of Trump’s Muslim ban, a staggering number of Iranians and other travelers have been detained for many hours and harassed in airports. In response to this ongoing problem, Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) introduced H.R. 1608, a bill requiring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to wear body cameras when engaged in official operations. The bill is currently in committee in the House of Representatives, awaiting a committee vote.

This bill aims to hold officers accountable, as the footage from the body cameras can be used to help settle disputes regarding the legality of the officer’s conduct. According to Congressman Espaillat, the bill would “help address the numerous concerning reports where immigration agents used coercive methods to extract information and fabricated the testimonies from immigrants.”

This legislation is especially needed today in order to assure that the court’s limitations on Trump’s Muslim Ban are appropriate and consistently carried out. Many travelers are not aware of their rights and could be manipulated by ICE and CBP officers who are abusing their authority. After numerous cases of people being detained and harassed in airports swept the news headlines, it became increasingly evident that there must be some sort of accountability mechanism put in place to limit the officers’ unchecked power.

In February, Iranians traveling to the U.S. felt the brunt of Trump’s mandate when amidst the chaos of the Travel Ban they were illegally detained by ICE officers and forced to sign documents in a language they did not fully understand. An Iranian man “with a family based immigrant visa…was detained at Los Angeles International airport for 18 hours” without food or a place to sleep. He was forced to sign a document claiming he was leaving the US voluntarily and physically carried onto a plane to Dubai against his will.

Slate magazine reported that another “elderly Iranian couple—both of whom were lawful permanent residents—say they were detained for 10 hours at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after returning from their son’s wedding in Iran. The two were denied access to food for the length of their detention….CBP officers refused to inform the couple’s immediate family whether the couple had been allowed to take necessary medications.”

Even within the small number of cases in which cameras were in use, it did not deter ICE officers’ reckless behavior. In 2013, a sixteen-year-old boy carrying two containers of liquid methamphetamine across the Mexican border was forced by officers to drink several times from a container, resulting in the young boy’s death. This information did not come to light until this July when the footage was released.

If a surveillance camera were not recording the incident, it would have likely never been brought to the public’s attention and the family may not have ever known what happened to their loved one.

The House has shown its support for body cameras in the past when it commended the Customs and Border Protection’s plan to conduct a pilot program. The House Appropriations Committee stated in its Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Homeland Security Report that the cameras “can be useful in discouraging inappropriate conduct by law enforcement officers and have also exonerated officers accused of wrongdoing.”  

This bill is critical in providing the degree of oversight necessary in ensuring transparency and that officials are held accountable. Without video footage, accusations of officials’ abuse become one person’s word against another’s. Body cameras will serve to protect both officers and the public by providing reliable evidence of the truth in the case of a conflict. H.R. 1608 is co-sponsored by 37 Democratic congressmen but currently lacks the GOP support it will need to be passed.

 

Supreme Court Decision on Grandparent Ban Welcome, But Insufficient

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 206.369.2069
Email: Jamal@niacaction.org

Washington, D.C. – NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement after the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Trump administration cannot impose the Muslim ban against grandparents and other family members of Americans:

“While John Roberts and the Supreme Court have taken further steps to temporarily limit Trump’s discriminatory ban, Republicans have blocked Congressional efforts to permanently limit or repeal the ban. Yesterday, Congress held its first ever vote on the Muslim ban. Unfortunately, 29 of 30 Republicans in the House Appropriations Committee voted down an amendment from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) that would have affirmed the Supreme Court decision and prevented any taxpayer funding to impose the Muslim ban against grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members of Americans.

“While today’s decision by the Supreme Court is welcome, it should now be apparent that the Trump administration will use any wiggle room to enforce its ban against Iranians and other nationals targeted by the ban. It is outrageous and indefensible that Trump would not view grandparents as bona fide relationships. Fortunately, this error has been corrected. However, American families continue to wait in limbo and monitor the back and forth of court rulings and administrative actions that contribute to a growing sense of insecurity.

“Congress has the power to put an end to the Muslim ban fiasco by rescinding Trump’s Executive Order and blocking taxpayer funding for it. Instead, Republican leadership in both chambers have blocked a vote on legislation to repeal the ban which was endorsed by nearly every Democrat but not a single Republican. Just last year, some Republicans expressed disgust with Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. Now, they are collaborating with his efforts to undermine our Constitution and ban Muslims.

“Those targeted by this discriminatory ban deserve better. There should be tremendous pressure on any lawmaker shirking their duties and playing defense for Trump’s ban. The Iranian-American community will continue to push for a full repeal and to hold lawmakers accountable for their cowardice.”

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NIAC Action Statement on Congress Rejecting Amendments to Bar Muslim-ban Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 206.369.2069
Email: Jamal@niacaction.org

Washington, DC – NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement regarding today’s vote to defund Donald Trump’s Muslim ban in the House Appropriations Committee:

“We applaud Representatives Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee for leading the charge against the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. By offering amendments to defund elements of the ban, Representatives Pocan and Senator Lee demonstrated real leadership in attempting to put an end to Congressional inaction and forego the need for further judicial intervention regarding the Muslim ban. The Pocan amendment, which came to a vote, was unfortunately defeated on a largely party line vote.

“We are gravely disappointed that nearly all of the Republican members on the committee voted to defend the Muslim ban. Specifically, all but one Republican member on the committee voted against the Pocan amendment, which would have simply ensured that no funds could be used to impose the ban against family members of U.S. persons, in accordance with a Supreme Court decision. It is unconscionable that lawmakers would vote to ban our grandparents from visiting us in the U.S.

“Congress cannot stand idly by while the Trump administration tears apart families, manufactures chaos and uncertainty at our borders, and severely disrupts American businesses, colleges and universities. This is not an issue that can simply be punted to the courts as Americans and their relatives abroad sit in limbo. Congress has the authority and the responsibility to weigh in on this crucial policy matter.

“There has not been a single vote in Congress on the Muslim ban until today and there has still not been a single hearing or investigation on the ban. Republican leadership has blocked a vote on legislation to rescind the ban in both the House and the Senate. Congress spent more time investigating steroids in baseball than they have spent on the Muslim ban.  Lawmakers must not abdicate their responsibility and hope that the courts will clean up Trump’s mess.

“Some lawmakers may want to avoid this issue because they are afraid to stand up to Donald Trump or they fear that some elements of their base support a Muslim ban. We will not give them a pass. The Iranian-American community will remember this vote and work to ensure that Members of Congress who have prioritized protecting Donald Trump over protecting American families and values are held accountable.”

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NIAC Action Urges Votes for Pocan and Lee Muslim Ban Amendments

NIAC Action urges Members of Congress to vote in favor of amendments to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would bar funding from being used to implement the Trump administration’s discriminatory and unconstitutional Muslim ban. An amendment will be offered during today’s markup from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) to bar the Trump administration from banning close familial relations in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling, in addition to an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) to bar funding for the implementation of the entire Muslim ban.
 

These amendments are urgently needed to protect American citizens and their loved ones from the discriminatory Muslim ban as well as to safeguard U.S. national security.

Last month, the Supreme Court overturned lower court injunctions against the Muslim ban, however, the court exempted individuals who have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S. The Trump administration subsequently issued a directive that limits the Supreme Court exemption to “close familial relationships” which excluded grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins, and siblings-in-law from the exemption. The U.S. District Court (Hawaii) then reimposed the exemption, ruling that grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins qualify as close familial relationships. The Trump administration announced it would appeal the Hawaii decision to the Supreme Court.

The Pocan Amendment would restrict funding in the DHS Appropriations bill from being used to implement the travel ban Executive Order against an individual who is a parent, spouse, fiancé, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin of a United States citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. 
 
The Barbara Lee Amendment would restrict funding in the DHS Appropriations bill from being used to implement any element of the travel ban Executive Order. Not a single person has been killed in the US by a terrorist attack committed by people from the countries subjected to Trump’s ban. The Muslim ban makes America less safe by diverting resources away from real threats and instead arbitrarily cracking down on loved ones and the ability of U.S. businesses to freely recruit talent.
   
NIAC Action strongly encourages Members of Congress to vote for the Pocan Amendment and allow Americans to see their grandparents and other relatives, as well as to vote to defund this misguided ban altogether with the Barbara Lee Amendment.

 

Tweet at key lawmakers here to repeal the ban on Grandparents today: niacaction.org/grandparentsnotterrorists