Marin Cogan reports for the Washington Post:

“On a Thursday morning in June, near the end of Ramadan, Majed Abdulraheem arrives for work at Union Kitchen. The brightly lit, shared commercial kitchen space in Northeast Washington is filled with chef’s tables, pastry racks and the bustling of a dozen cooks building fledgling businesses. It’s Chef Majed’s second time at work today. Fasting makes the daytime heat of the kitchen too hard to manage, and so he was in the kitchen preparing orders late last night, into the early morning.

Abdulraheem, 29, works at Foodhini, a meal delivery service that employs immigrant chefs in Washington. The start-up was founded by Noobtsaa Philip Vang, a child of refugees from Laos, who discovered, after arriving from Minnesota to Georgetown three years ago to get his MBA, that he was missing the Hmong cuisine he grew up with. “I was really craving some of my mom’s food,” says Vang, “and I was thinking I wanted to find a grandma or auntie that was living in the neighborhood somewhere and just buy some of their food.”

He started mulling his own family’s immigration story: When his mom came to the United States, she had limited English skills, and finding work was difficult. His dad sometimes worked multiple jobs, sleeping in his car between shifts, to make sure the family had enough money to survive. What his mother did have, which might have been marketable if only she’d had the resources, was incredible skill as a chef. “There’s got to be a way to create opportunities for people like my mom,” he thought.

Abdulraheem is one of Foodhini’s first chefs. On its website, he offers a menu of his own design: bamiatan, a dish of crisp mini okra sauteed in garlic and topped with cilantro; mutabbal, an eggplant-tahini dip similar to baba ghanouj; and kebab hindi, meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew. Like Vang, his love for food and for family are inextricably intertwined: Many of the items on Abdulraheem’s menu are dishes his mother used to make for him when he was a kid growing up in a small town in southern Syria. Even after attending culinary school in Syria, and after years of working in restaurants, he still considers her, his original teacher, to be the better chef.

“You have to love cooking to be good at it,” Abdulraheem tells me through an interpreter. He is preparing the vegetables for fattoush, a staple salad of lettuce, tomato and crunchy pita chips. He stacks long leaves of romaine lettuce, one on top of the other, slicing them crosswise into small confetti ribbons as he talks, before perfectly dicing tomatoes. He cuts huge lemons in half, just once, and squeezes the juice out of them effortlessly. It’s a simple dish but one he loves to make, because it’s both universal and endlessly customizable. “I’m making fattoush, my wife will make fattoush, you can make fattoush,” he says. “But each time it will come out a little bit different, because it’s a reflection of you.”

Majed Abdulraheem and wife Walaa Jadallah at their home in Riverdale Park, Md. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

When Abdulraheem arrived here in 2016, he became part of a long history of immigrants — often refugees — who reached the United States and began making food. You can find this tradition in Eden Center, the Northern Virginia strip mall packed with pho restaurants and pan-Asian groceries, built up by Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s. You can see it in the popular Ethiopian restaurants on U Street; in the restaurants of Peter Chang, who fled Washington’s Chinese Embassy in 2003 and acquired one of the most loyal followings of any chef in America; or in the Thai and Indian restaurants in large cities and small towns across the country.

. . . .

What Abdulraheem and other refugee chefs bring when they come to America has implications beyond the kitchen. Cooking the dishes — sharing the foods of their home country — is a way of ensuring “that identity and heritage are not lost just because the homeland is,” says Poopa Dweck, author of the book “Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews.” They are “documenting history, in some way, for the next generation.”

It’s this diversity — the richness of so many cuisines and cultures, brought from all over the world — that makes American food so outstanding. At the moment, however, that tradition is under threat. The Trump administration has dedicated a lot of energy to barring Syrian refugees like Abdulraheem from coming into the country, while waging a multifront campaign against undocumented immigrants from Latin America. Continuing on this path would have a profound impact — not just on our food, but on our national identity.

It can be hard to explain to people who view immigration as a threat just what we stand to lose when we turn away from this ideal. Maybe a grand argument about American values isn’t the best place to begin. Maybe it’s best to start smaller, somewhere closer to home — somewhere like the dinner table.

Abdulraheem’s kebab hindi (meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew). (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

There are things that Majed Abdulraheem doesn’t usually talk about when he’s at work chopping vegetables. But they’re on his mind a lot: How, on his last visit to his parents’ home in 2013, they begged him not to return to his apartment in Damascus but to flee Syria across the border to Jordan instead. How he did as his parents asked. And how he never got to see his father, who became ill during his exile, before he died.

. . . .

The culinary education of refugee chefs is unusual. It is at once cosmopolitan — thanks to the fusing of different influences during the chef’s travels — and narrowly defined by both physical barriers and the limitations of circumstance. The journeys of refugee chefs often spark creativity, born of necessity. The education, just like the migration, is sui generis. Just like America.”


Read the complete article at the above link.

The irony is certainly not lost on me. Refugees overcome great obstacles to contribute to America’s greatness; immigrants (including, yes, those without legal status) help us prosper as a society; guys like Trump and Sessions are corrosive negative influences who contribute little of positive value and do great damage to our country, our society, and our collective future every day they hold power, despite having having been given every chance to make positive contributions.

America’s continued greatness, and perhaps our ultimate survival as a nation, depends on whether we can use the legal system and the ballot box to remove corrosive influences like Trump, Sessions, and their ill-intentioned cronies from office before they can completely destroy our country.



INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: US ADMINISTRATION OF SHAME: “A year of unwelcome How the Trump administration has sabotaged America’s welcome in 2017”

“Since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, his administration has repeatedly implemented policies that pull the welcome mat from under the feet of refugees and immigrants seeking safety in the United States. The latest directive, announced in late October, institutes new vetting measures for refugees from 11 countries, effectively extending the travel ban that recently expired.

These developments are unbefitting America’s history as a safe haven for refugees. Democratic and Republican presidents alike have ensured that the United States supports refugees who seek liberty and reject ideologies opposed to American values.
U.S. leadership is needed now more than ever, when tens of millions across the globe face life-threatening situations. Yet the Trump administration continues to issue anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies that endanger innocent people fleeing persecution and, inherently, weaken America’s reputation both at home and abroad.
Here is a timeline of the Trump administration’s immigrant policies during its first nine months.
Travel ban
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
65 million
people worldwide are currently uprooted by crisis

More people have been forced to flee their homes by conflict and crisis than at any time since World War II.

Learn more about refugees
During his first week in office, President Trump instituted a travel ban that suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees from entry to the U.S. indefinitely. It also indiscriminately excluded any travel from six other countries—Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen—for 90 days.
Opponents of the travel ban challenged the directive in the courts. The Administration drafted a second travel ban as replacement: It allowed travelers who hold green cards entry the U.S.; removed Iraq from the list of restricted countries; and struck down the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
Even with this second ban, an eventual Supreme Court ruling required the administration to rewrite its travel guidelines over the summer, stipulating that people who have a “credible claim of bona fide relationship” with a person living in the U.S. can enter the country. The new guidelines, however, raised more questions than answers. For example, “bona fide relationships” didn’t include grandparents or resettlement agencies until advocates further challenged the protocols. Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable refugees who were not already on flights to the U.S. were left stranded.
“The human toll on families who have patiently waited their turn, done the vetting, given up jobs and prepared to travel is wrong,” said David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in a July 13 statement. “After decades of leading with its gold standard resettlement program, this defective policy shifts the goal posts and sees America turn its back on—and break its promise to—the world’s most vulnerable.”
The Supreme Court scheduled hearings on the legality of the travel ban, but the expiration date for the directive rendering the case moot.
End of protections for Central American refugee children
On Aug. 16, the Trump administration ended the automatic parole option for children in the CAM program (formally called the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole program). Since December 2014, the CAM program has helped reunite children fleeing gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with parents already in the U.S.
Many of these children avoided a perilous journey in order to reunite with parents and relatives—who are lawfully in the U.S.—and begin their new lives with refugee status protected under U.S. and international laws, notes Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “These children are no longer separated from their parents due to conflict and unrest, and are able to attend school and have a childhood free from violence.”
Terminating this lifesaving program, as this administration has done, is brutally tearing families apart—and in many cases, endangering children.
End of the “Dreamers” program
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
is the record-low U.S. limit on refugee admissions

That number is less than half the refugee admissions cap set by President Obama last year.

Why the U.S. should accept more refugees
On Sept. 5, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program, which created a fair and necessary safeguard for hundreds of thousands of young people—commonly known as Dreamers—brought to the U.S. as children.
This decision puts nearly 800,000 young people at risk of deportation from the only country they have ever known. It will have a painful and lasting impact on their lives, the fortunes of their employers, and the wellbeing of their communities.
“The devastating decision to discontinue DACA … unnecessarily tears families apart,” says Hans van de Weerd, vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “To take away the promised protection of DACA without an alternative, from those who courageously came out of the shadows to apply to the program, bolster our economy and enrich our communities, is simply inhumane.”

Historically low refugee cap
On Sept. 27, the Trump administration announced that it would cap at 45,000 the number of refugees granted admission to the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2018. This number is a historic low—the annual cap on average has exceeded 95,000 since 1980—and comes at a time when more people are uprooted by war and crisis than ever before.
“This administration’s decision to halve the number of refugees admitted to America is a double-blow—to victims of war ready to start a new life, and to America’s reputation as a beacon of hope in the world,” says Miliband. “When America cuts its numbers, the danger is that it sets the stage for other nations to follow suit, a tragic and contagious example of moral failure.”
New vetting procedures
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
refugees are actually likely to be admitted to the U.S., based on IRC projections

Vulnerable refugees are being harmed by bureaucratic red tape that won’t make Americans safer.

Why the existing vetting process already works
The travel ban officially expired on Oct. 24, but the Trump administration substituted the directive with a round of new vetting procedures for refugees entering the U.S. All refugees will now need to provide addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other details – over the past decade – for themselves and, potentially, their extended family members.
Further measures essentially allow Trump to extend the ban for 90 days for refugees from 11 countries.
“This will add months, or potentially years, to the most urgent cases, the majority of which are women and children in heinous circumstances,” says Sime. “With a world facing brutal and protracted conflicts like in Syria, or new levels of displacement and unimaginable violence against the Rohingya, this moment is a test of the world’s humanity, moral leadership, and ability to learn from the horrors of the past.”
Stand with refugees

We need your help to fight back and remind Congress that the Trump administration’s refugee policies DO NOT represent American values.”


More for Fat Cats, corporations, and the Trump Family Enterprises. Less for the needy and vulnerable. Eventually, there will be a reckoning for selfish, “me first,” policies of greed and disregard for the rights and humanity of others. I read it in a book.







Dahlia Lithwick and Jeremy Stahl Report for Slate:

“At the end of last month, the Trump administration quietly rolled out new restrictions on certain groups of refugees, ostensibly aimed at “protect[ing] people from terrorist attacks and other public-safety threats.” This latest form of “extreme vetting” reportedly targeted citizens of 11 purportedly high “risk” countries, along with the children and spouses of refugees already in the United States.

These high “risk” refugees would be temporarily barred from entering the country and kept from resettlement, so yet another layer of reviews could be added to the already years-long process. Here is the list of affected countries: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Nine of these countries are Muslim-majority nations. The list was not made public in the executive order itself. Instead, the State Department released an accompanying memo saying that the refugee freeze would affect 11 unnamed countries for which additional security screening had been previously required for males age 16–50.

The new policy expands the additional scrutiny for people from those 11 nations to include all refugees, and not just males of a certain age, while attempting to hide which 11 countries are affected. It also “temporarily prioritizes” applications of refugees from countries not on the list. The list of countries has never been made public outside of media reports, but was included in a December 2016 State Department memo seen by Slate. The new executive order was the Trump administration’s latest attempt to secretly sanitize and repurpose President Trump’s long-proffered and repeatedly bungled Muslim ban.

To put it more simply: This is another Muslim ban.
In addition to the new vetting and resettlement restrictions for a certain type of refugee, the “follow-to-join” program for close relatives of refugees who are already in the U.S. was paused indefinitely until further review. That means that refugees already lawfully admitted will be prevented from reuniting with their spouses and minor children. Department of Homeland Security data shows that about 2,000 follow-to-join family members came to the U.S. in 2015. Just as a reminder, one of the first plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Trump’s first “travel ban,” Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was an Iraqi who had qualified for a Follow to Join Visa. Alshawi’s wife and 7-year-old son, whom he had not seen for three years, were lawful permanent residents living in Houston. He was detained at JFK Airport in transit to the U.S. when the first travel ban was signed in January, before ultimately being allowed to reunite with his family.

Seen together, the new restrictions will not only disproportionately affect Muslim refugees: They will also extend an already cumbersome process that at present features extensive vetting that can average between 18–24 months.”


Readthe full article at the link.

More anti-Muslim religious discrimination and anti-refugee discrimination masquerading as as “national security.”





Washington Post editorial:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP has already slashed refugee admissions for the next hyear to a decades-long low. Now, in yet another blow to America’s legacy as a beacon of hope to beleaguered people around the world, his administration plans to make entry into the United States even more difficult for those refugees who are lucky enough not to be banned from the country entirely.

Mr. Trump’s first two travel bans suspended all refugee admissions into the United States for 120 days. On Tuesday, that aspect of the ban expired — and the administration has replaced it with a mean-spirited policy not defensible on any conceivable grounds of national security.

Notwithstanding the president’s promises to implement “extreme vetting,” refugees seeking entry into the United States already are subject to a gantlet of security checks and interviews. Under this new policy, the process will become even more arduous. Refugees will need to hand over more detailed biographical data and contact information for family members. The government will scale up efforts to spot possible fraud. Meanwhile, a program allowing swifter entry for refugees seeking to join family members who have already reached the United States has been put on hold.

The policy is harshest toward refugees from 11 countries, which Reuters reports as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. For 90 days, citizens and stateless residents of these countries will be blocked from the United States unless their admission is determined not to pose a security threat and to be in the national interest of the United States. That loophole is particularly small because the State Department plans to prioritize refugees from other countries. Essentially, the administration has extended the refugee ban another month and a half for these 11 nations. (They produced more than 40 percent of refugees admitted to the United States in fiscal 2017.) That makes for a drastic cut in refu­gee admissions.”


Read the complete editorial at the link.

Trump is diminishing America, one cowardly and xenophobic action at a time.





Chertoff writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump will make another decision this month that will affect thousands of people: How many refugees will the United States admit in fiscal year 2018?

The president already cut refugee admissions by more than half this year, from more than 100,000 down to 50,000. By way of comparison, the highest ceiling under President Ronald Reagan was 140,000. The president has also signaled, through his executive orders and in his budget proposal, that these cuts will carry over to next year. And in fact, some in his administration are trying to convince him to cut even further.

This would be a mistake. Cutting refugee admittances would not only be a moral failure but also damage our national interest abroad and our economy.

Of course, security is an imperative, and the refugee resettlement program is secure. U.S. security and intelligence agencies conduct multiple reviews on every refugee admitted, and only those approved for admission by the Department of Homeland Security are granted refuge in the United States.


There is also the humanitarian imperative: We are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis on record, with more than 22 million people seeking safety from violence, conflict and persecution all over the world. The vast majority of refugees — nearly 90 percent — are hosted by poor and middle-income countries. Only the most vulnerable — those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge — are selected for resettlement. For these refugees — widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution — refugee resettlement is a lifeline.

But what’s in it for the United States?

Strategic allies located near crises host the largest refugee populations in the world. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya are among the top refugee-hosting states. Their willingness to host millions of refugees contributes greatly to regional stability and security, all in regions where U.S. troops are deployed. As our military works to contain terrorist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa, forcing refugees to return to unsafe and unstable countries would make countering terrorism more difficult.


That’s why in 2016, when the Kenyan government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp and forcibly return more than 250,000 Somalis to an unstable Somalia, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry got on a plane to Kenya. It’s also why the United States should be concerned that more than 700,000 Afghan registered and unregistered refugees have been returned to Afghanistan since 2016 — a threefold increase from 2015 — at a time when growing instability in Afghanistan and terrorist gains are forcing an increase in U.S. troop levels.

If we’re not willing to do our fair share, how can we ask front-line allies to do more?

Maintaining resettlement commitments is also critical to our military, diplomatic and intelligence operations abroad. Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan nationals have put their lives on the line to support intelligence-gathering, operations planning and other essential services. Terrorist groups openly target these individuals because of their cooperation with Americans. Resettlement is instrumental to ensuring their safety — a testament to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield.

And in a proud American tradition, Republican and Democratic presidents have used refugee admissions to signal support for those who reject ideologies antithetical to U.S. values. In the past few decades, we have raised our admissions ceilings to take in those fleeing communist uprisings, religious persecution and tyranny.


Today, the United States must provide unwavering support for Muslims who put their lives at risk to reject terrorist ideologies, many of whom refused to join or be conscripted into terrorist groups, militias and state security forces persecuting their fellow citizens. The Islamic State considers all those who flee its rule as heretics subject to execution. Those who risk their lives — and their children’s lives — to reject terrorism must know, as a matter of our fight against extremism, that the United States supports and welcomes them.

Even in the wake of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, President George W. Bush deliberately and explicitly maintained a refugee admissions ceiling of 70,000 annually, affirming the United States’ great humanitarian tradition.

Finally, refugees enrich and are deeply supported by our communities. Hundreds of mayors, faith leaders and business leaders have attested to the contributions refugees make. Thousands of Americans donate volunteer hours, in-kind goods and services, and private dollars to support refugees. One study estimates only 39 percent of the costs of resettlement are covered by federal dollars.


Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, refugees thrive. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among U.S.-born populations, creating jobs for Americans. More than 57 percent of them are homeowners.

Our values and our national security interests argue for raising our refugee ceiling, not lowering it. The president should seize the mantle of Reagan and fortify U.S. leadership on refugees.”


I’ll admit to not always being a Chertoff fan. In particular, his failure to support internal efforts to institute a strong prosecutorial discretion program at ICE that would have empowered the Chief Counsel to control the Immigration Courts’ growing docket was unfortunate, given his legal and judicial background.

But, I agree with what Chertoff says here. Just compare the power, logic, and moral authority of his statement with the mealy-mouthed, cowardly, morally vapid lies flowing from the mourths of xenophobic, disingenuous, fear mongers like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Rep. Steve King, and the rest of the White Nationalist crowd!

Refugeees make America great! White Nationalist xenophobes, not so much!




Adam K. Raymond reports in New York Magazine:

“In 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees and set a goal of bumping that number up to 110,00 this year. Those plans changed with President Trump’s so-called travel ban, which set the refugee limit at 50,000 for 2016. Now, the administration is considering setting that number even lower for 2018, despite the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The President has until October 1 to set a refugee ceiling and, the Times reports, there’s a debate raging in the White House about whether the number should be reduced to numbers not seen in decades. Leading the arguments against cutting the totals is Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk and ally of Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Miller has reportedly produced cutting the number all the way to 15,000. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed its own cut to 40,000.

The Times explains their purported thinking:


Two administration officials said those pushing for a lower number are citing the need to strengthen the process of vetting applicants for refugee status to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the country. Two others said another factor is a cold-eyed assessment of the money and resources that would be needed to resettle larger amounts of refugees at a time when federal immigration authorities already face a years long backlog of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
This reasoning doesn’t align with the facts. Refugees are far more likely to be victims of politically motivated attacks than perpetrators. Limiting refugees does not keep America safer because refugees are not dangerous. It’s difficult not to see nativism as the motive behind pretending that they are: fear makes it easier to convince people that suffering people should be excluded from the United States. As for the cost concerns, the GOP’s feigned fiscal prudence should never be taken seriously.

By setting the refugee cap at 50,000 this year, Trump has already pushed the number lower than it’s been in decades. In the 37 years since the Refugee Act of 1980 gave the president a role in setting the cap, it hasn’t slipped lower than the 67,000 President Reagan set in 1987.

Cutting the refugee ceiling would leave tens of thousands of vulnerable people out in the cold, the International Rescue Committee said in a report last month. The humanitarian organization advocates for a ceiling no lower than 75,000 people. “An admissions level of at least 75,000 is a critical signal to the world that the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, terror and ideologies antithetical to American democratic values,” the report says. “Anything less would be to turn our backs on the United States’ humanitarian tradition and global leadership.”


Under the last three Administrations, the US has made an absolute muddle out of two ill-advised wars and Middle East policies in general. The idea that guys like Trump, Tillerson, Miller, Bannon, Sessions, and even “the Generals” can come up with a constructive solution borders on the ludicrous. Nope. They going to to fight the 21st Century version of the “100 Years War” with similar results.

If there is a solution out there that will help achieve stability and provide a durable solution to the terrorist threats, it’s more likely going to be coming from one of today’s refugees who have a better idea of what’s actually going on and how we might become part of the solution rather than making the problems worse.

Refugees represent America’s hope. The Sessions-Miller-Bannon cabal represents America’s darkest side — one that threatens to drag us all into the abyss of their dark, distorted, and fundamentally anti-American world view.





U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Halts Iraqi Removals

Melissa Etehad reports in the LA Times:

“A federal judge in Detroit has temporarily halted the deportations of more than 1,400 Iraqi immigrants, ruling that they deserve to have their cases play out in court because of the risk that they could be targeted for persecution in Iraq.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said the immigrants faced a “compelling confluence of extraordinary circumstances” and that the government’s attempt to rush their deportations was a violation of their rights.

Many of the Iraqis arrived in the U.S. as children as far back as the 1980s and have few ties to their native country. The majority are members of religious or ethnic minorities such as Chaldean Christians or Kurds, who have been subjected to torture and other forms of repression in Iraq.

They face deportation because they had overstayed visas or committed crimes, typically misdemeanors such as driving under the influence of alcohol.

They had been allowed to stay in the U.S. because for decades Iraq had refused to take them back. But in March, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Iraqi government to accept them and in June began rounding them up in immigration raids.

As of July 1, 234 had been arrested and detained around the country, including large numbers in Detroit, home to thousands of Chaldean Christians.

Returning the immigrants to Iraq would in some cases be akin to issuing a death sentence, according to civil rights and immigrant rights groups that filed a lawsuit in Detroit federal court in late June to block deportations of those immigrants who had been living in Detroit.

Many had been transferred multiple times to various detention facilities, making it harder for them to get legal representation and prepare their cases, advocates said.”

Here is a full copy of Judge Goldsmith’s opinion in Hamama v. Adducci detailing the Government’s efforts to obstruct and derail due process:



Another defeat for the Trump Administration’s gonzo enforcement agenda.




AP reports:

“DETROIT, MI — A federal judge Tuesday halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution, while courts review the orders to remove them from the U.S. Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a 24-page opinion asserting jurisdiction in the case over the objection of the Justice Department, which argued U.S. district judges do not have jurisdiction.

“This Court concludes that to enforce the Congressional mandate that district courts lack jurisdiction — despite the compelling context of this case — would expose Petitioners to the substantiated risk of death, torture, or other grave persecution before their legal claims can be tested in a court,” Goldsmith wrote in a 24-page opinion.

Goldsmith earlier blocked the deportations while he considered whether he had jurisdiction over the case. (For more local news, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Detroit Patch, click here to find your local Michigan Patch. Also, like us on Facebook, and if you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)

Many of the Iraqis, including 114 rounded up in the Detroit area last month who are mostly Christians, fear attacks over their religion if returned to Iraq. The government says they face deportation because they committed crimes in the U.S.

Goldsmith earlier extended a ruling suspending the deportation of the 114 while he considered jurisdiction to all Iraqi nationals in the U.S.

The U.S. government said 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide, though most are not in custody. Some have been under orders for years because they committed crimes in the U.S. But legal action over deportations took on new urgency because Iraq has agreed to accept them.

The American Civil Liberties Union said a suspension is necessary so Iraqi nationals can go to immigration court and argue that their lives would be in jeopardy if returned to their native country. Without some intervention, the ACLU contends that people could be deported before their case is called.

Goldsmith scheduled a Wednesday hearing to discuss several matters in the case, including a request from the Iraqis for a preliminary injunction barring the deportations.”


Seems like these folks should have their cases reviewed by a U.S. Immigration Judge based on current conditions in Iraq.



U.S. District Judge Stops DHS From Deporting Iraqis Arrested In Recent Bust!

Continue reading U.S. District Judge Stops DHS From Deporting Iraqis Arrested In Recent Bust!

U.S. District Judge In Detroit Temporarily Halts DHS Effort To Expel Chaldean Christians To Iraq!

AP reports:

“DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Thursday temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said in a written order that deportation is halted for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.

The Justice Department had argued that the detainees, including many who were recently rounded up after decades in the U.S., must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court. But the American Civil Liberties Union said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.

Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday. He said he needs more time to consider complex legal issues.

Potential physical harm “far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims,” Goldsmith said.

Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested on or about June 11 and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.

Iraq recently agreed to accept Iraqi nationals subject to removal from the U.S.

“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a release. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

Besides the 114 arrested in the Detroit area, 85 other Iraqi nationals were arrested elsewhere in the country, according to ICE. As of April 17, there were 1,444 Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal from the U.S. Eight already have been returned to Iraq.

The detainees include Louis Akrawi, who served more than 20 years in Michigan prisons for second-degree murder. He was accused of arranging a shooting that killed an innocent bystander in 1993.

“He’s 69 years old, he has two artificial knees, and he needs surgery on both eyes. Sending him back to Iraq is unfair,” his son, Victor Akrawi, told The Detroit News.”


Perhaps, Evangelical Christians who supported Trump thought they would get a break. But, in this particular operation, being a Christian doesn’t seem to have helped. Muslims are also being removed.



Six Compelling Stories Of How Refugees ARE America That You Should Read!

Daniel Beekman writes in the Seattle Times:

“The United Nations defines a refugee as someone forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.

He or she has a well-founded fear of being targeted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
A refugee can be an adult or a child.

Julie Wong was 10.

“It couldn’t have been longer than a football field from where we were hiding to that ship, but I remember what I saw along the way,” Wong said of the night she left the Vietnamese city Danang in 1975.

“We had to step over dead bodies. Bicycles. Suitcases. People’s lives strewn all around.”

Wong is 52 and lives with her husband in Sammamish. Their sons play football. She works for a pharmaceutical company as an oncology diagnostic consultant.

She cried when she talked about Danang being shelled and the refugee camp near San Diego where she took English classes.

She doesn’t usually talk about those things. Most people never ask, and she doesn’t feel the need to tell. She leads a busy life as a proud American.

But when Wong sees Syrian refugees on the news, running for their lives, she’s reminded of her own story.”


Read about Wong and five other Americans from refugee backgrounds at the link’





WashPost: 3 Iraqi Refugees in VA Charged with Immigration Fraud — Allegedly Hid Family Ties & Made Up Stories Of Abuse

Rachel Weiner reports:

“When Yousif Al Mashhadani came to the United States as a refugee in 2008, he told officials he had been kidnapped in his native Iraq because of his anti-corruption efforts and wanted to come to America for his own safety.

Now, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia say Al Mashhadani lied about being kidnapped and about his own connection to a vicious kidnapper.

On Tuesday, Al Mashhadani, his brother Adil Hasan, and Hasan’s wife, Enas Ibrahim, appeared in court on charges of naturalization fraud.

All three live in Fairfax County; they moved here from Iraq in 2008. But when they applied to become lawful permanent U.S. residents, none of them acknowledged a relationship to Majid Al Mashhadani, a convicted kidnapper who is Yousif Al Mashhadani and Hasan’s brother, an affidavit from FBI agent Sean MacDougal said.”


Obviously, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  But, if the Government does prove these charges, then these three individuals have not only compromised the integrity of the U.S. refugee system, but also endangered the lives of many Iraqis who legitimately qualify for protection, but are caught up in the anti-refugee hysteria being promoted by the Trump Administration. Cases like this damage the chances of all legitimate refugees to receive the life-saving protection which they need and deserve.

I’d also like to put in a good word for the DHS criminal enforcement operation. Taking apart complicated cases like this and developing them into viable criminal prosecutions takes skill, sophisticated knowledge, perseverance, and dogged attention to detail.

My personal experience has been that the DHS generally does an outstanding job of ferreting out and prosecuting refugee and asylum fraud, even when, as here, the cases takes years to develop. Then, cases that shouldn’t have been granted are reopened, status is revoked, and removal proceedings are instituted.

During my time at the Arlington Immigration Court, the DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria “broke” major asylum fraud cases relating to Indonesians and Cameroonians. The principals went to jail and those who knowingly participated in the fraud had their status revoked and were removed from the United States. So, in the end, the DHS did their job well, and justice was served.

As a judge, I was an adjudicator, not an investigator. So, I appreciated the investigative skills of those who brought the truth to light and thereby helped us keep our system honest.





BREAKING: Another Defeat For Travel Ban — Maryland Federal Judge Also Slams Administration — Get Full Opinion Here!

Here’s the key “Establishment Clause” portion of Judge Theodore D. Chuang’s decision in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump:

B. Establishment Clause

Plaintiffs assert that the travel ban on citizens from the Designated Countries is President Trump’s fulfillment of his campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the United States. They argue that the Second Executive Order therefore violates the Establishment Clause. The First Amendment prohibits any “law respecting an establishment of religion,” U.S. Const. amend. I, and “mandates governmental neutrality between religion. and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,” Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968). When a law does not differentiate among religions on its face, courts apply the test articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). See Hernandez v. C.IR., 490 U.S. 680, 695 (1989). Under the Lemon test, to withstand an Establishment Clause challenge (1) an act must have a secular purpose, (2) “its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion,” and (3) it must not “foster’ an excessive government entanglement with religion. ‘” Id. at 612-613 (quoting

Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 674 (1970)). All three prongs of the test must be satisfied. Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 583 (1987).

The mere identification of any secular purpose for the government action does not satisfy the purpose test. McCreary Cty. v. Am. Civil Liberties Union a/Ky., 545 U.S. 844,860,865 n.13


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(2005). Such a rule “would leave the purpose test with no real bite, given the ease of finding some secular purpose for almost any government action.” Id. (“[A]n approach that credits any valid purpose . . . has not been the way the Court has approached government action that implicates establishment.” (emphasis added)). Thus, although governmental statements of purpose generally receive deference, a secular purpose must be “genuine, not a sham, and not merely secondary to a religious objective.” Id. at 864. If a religious purpose for the government action is the predominant or primary purpose, and the secular purpose is “secondary,” the purpose test has not been satisfied. Id. at 860, 862-65; see also Edwards, 482 U.S. at 594 (finding a violation of the Establishment Clause where the “primary purpose” of the challenged act was “to endorse a particular religious doctrine”).

An assessment ofthe purpose of an action is a “common” task for courts. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 861. In determining purpose, a court acts as an “objective observer” who considers “the traditional external signs that show up in the text, legislative history, and implementation of the statute, or comparable official act.” McCreary, 545 U.S. at 862 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 308 (2000)). An “understanding of official objective” can emerge from “readily discoverable fact” without ”judicial psychoanalysis” of the decisionmaker. Id.

Plaintiffs argue that the Second Executive Order fails the purpose prong because there is substantial direct evidence that the travel ban was motivated by a desire to ban Muslims as a group from entering the United States. Plaintiffs’ evidence on this point consists primarily of public statements made by President Trump and his advisors, before his election, before the issuance of the First Executive Order, and since the decision to issue the Second Executive Order. Considering statements from these time periods is appropriate because courts may


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consider “the historical context” of the action and the “specific sequence of events” leading .up to it. Edwards, 482 U.S. at 594-95. Such evidence is “perfectly probative” and is considered as a matter of “common sense”; indeed, courts are “forbid[ den] … ‘to tum a blind eye to the context in which [the] policy arose.”’ McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866 (quoting Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 315 (2000)); cf Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 267-68 (1987) (including the “historical background of the decision,” the “specific sequence of events leading up [to] the challenged decision,” and “contemporary statements of the decisionmaking body” as factors indicative of discriminatory intent), cited with approval in Edwards, 482 U.S. at 595.

One consequence of taking account of the purpose underlying past actions is that the same government action may be constitutional if taken in the first instance and unconstitutional if it has a sectarian heritage. This presents no incongruity, however, because purpose matters.

McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866 n.l4.
Specifically, the evidence offered by Plaintiffs includes numerous statements by

President Trump expressing an intent to issue a Muslim ban or otherwise conveying anti-Muslim sentiments. For example, on December 7, 2015, then a Republican primary candidate, Trump posted a “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration” on his campaign website “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what is going on.” J.R. 85. In a March 9, 2016 interview with CNN, Trump professed his belief that “Islam hates us,” and that the United States had “allowed this propaganda to spread all through the country that [Islam] is a religion of peace.” J.R. 255-57. Then in a March 22, 2016 Fox Business interview, Trump reiterated his call for a ban on Muslim immigration, explaining that his call for the ban had gotten “tremendous support” and that “we’re having problems with the Muslims, and we’re having problems with Muslims coming into the country.”


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into the country.” J.R. 261. On December 21, 2016, when asked whether a recent attack in Germany affected his proposed Muslim ban, President-Elect Trump replied, “You know my plans. All along, I’ve proven to be right. 100% correct.” J.R.245. In a written statement about the events, Trump lamented the attack on people “prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday” by “ISIS and other Islamic terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.” J.R. 245.

Significantly, the record also includes specific statements directly establishing that Trump intended to effectuate a partial Muslim ban by banning entry by citizens of specific predominantly Muslim countries deemed to be dangerous, as a means to avoid, for political reasons, an action explicitly directed at Muslims. In a July 24, 2016 interview on Meet the Press, soon after becoming the Republican presidential nominee, Trump asserted that immigration should be immediately suspended “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism.” J.R. 219. When questioned whether his new formulation was a “rollback” of his call for a “Muslim ban,” he described it as an “expansion” and explained that “[p]eople were so upset when I used the word Muslim,” so he was instead “talking territory instead of Muslim.” J.R. 220. When President Trump was preparing to sign the First Executive Order, he remarked, “This is the ‘Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.’ We all know what that means.” J.R. 142. The day after the First Executive Order was issued, Mayor Giuliani appeared on Fox News and asserted that President Trump told him he wanted a Muslim ban and asked Giuliani to “[s]how me the right way to do it legally.” J.R. 247. Giuliani, in consultation with others, proposed that the action be “focused on, instead of religion … the areas of the world that create danger for us,” specifically “places where there are [sic] substantial

evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.” J.R.247-48. These types of public


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statements were relied upon by the Eastern District of Virginia in enjoining the First Executive Order based on a likelihood of success on an Establishment Clause claim, Aziz, 2017 WL 580855, at *11, and the Ninth Circuit in concluding that an Establishment Clause claim against that Order raised “serious allegations” and presented “significant constitutional questions.” Washington, 847 F.3d at 1168.

These statements, which include explicit, direct statements of President Trump’s animus towards Muslims and intention to impose a ban on Muslims entering the United States, present a convincing case that the First Executive Order was issued to accomplish, as nearly as possible,

. President Trump’s promised Muslim ban. In particular, the direct statements by President Trump and Mayor Giuliani’s account of his conversations with President Trump reveal that the plan had been to bar the entry of nationals of predominantly Muslim countries deemed to

constitute dangerous territory in order to approximate a Muslim ban without calling it one- precisely the form of the travel ban in the First Executive Order. See Aziz, 2017 WL 580855, at *4 (quoting from a July 17,2016 interview during which then-candidate Trump, upon hearing a tweet stating “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional,” responded “So you call it territories. OK? We’re gonna do territories.”). Such explicit statements of a religious purpose are “readily discoverable fact[s]” that allow the Court to identify the purpose of this government action without resort to “judicial psychoanalysis.” McCreary, 545 U.S. at 862. They constitute clear statements of religious purpose comparable to those relied upon in Glassroth v. Moore, 335 F.3d 1282 (lith Cir. 2003), where the court found that a Ten Commandments display at a state courthouse was erected for a religious purpose in part based on the chief justice stating at the dedication ceremony that “in order to establish justice, we must invoke ‘the favor and guidance of Almighty God. ‘” Id. at 1286, 1296 (“[N]o


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psychoanalysis or dissection is required here, where there is abundant evidence, including his own words, of the Chief Justice’s purpose.”).

Relying primarily on this record, Plaintiffs asks this Court to issue an injunction against the Second Executive Order on Establishment Clause grounds. In considering this request, the same record of public statements by President Trump remains highly relevant. In McCreary, where the Court was reviewing a third attempt to create a courthouse display including the Ten Commandments after two prior displays had been deemed unconstitutional, it held that its review was not limited to the “latest news about the last in a series of governmental actions” because “the world is not made brand new every morning,” “reasonable observers have reasonable memories,” and to impose such a limitation would render a court “an absentedminded objective observer, not one presumed familiar with the history of the government’s action and competent to learn what history has to show.” McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866.

The Second Executive Order, issued only six weeks after the First Executive Order, differs, as relevant here, in that the preference for religious minorities in the refugee process has been removed. It also removes Iraq from the list of Designated Countries, exempts certain categories of individuals from the ban, and lists other categories of individuals who may be eligible for a case-by-case waiver from the ban. Despite these changes, the history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the Second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban. The Trump Administration acknowledged that the core substance of the First Executive Order remained intact. Prior to its

issuance, on February 16, 2017, Stephen Miller, Senior Policy Advisor to the President, described the forthcoming changes as “mostly minor technical differences,” and stated that the “basic policies are still going to be in effect.” J.R. 319. When the Second Executive Order was


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signed on March 6, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that “[t]he principles of the [second] executive order remain the same.” J.R. 118. The Second Executive Order itself explicitly states that the changes, particularly the addition of exemption and waiver categories, were made to address ‘judicial concerns,” 2d Order S1(i), including those raised by the Ninth Circuit, which upheld an injunction based on due process concerns, Washington, 847 F.3d at 1156.

The removal of the preference for religious minorities in the refugee system, which was the only explicit reference to religion in the First Executive Order, does not cure the Second Executive Order of Establishment Clause concerns. Crucially, the core policy outcome of a blanket ban on entry of nationals from the Designated Countries remains. When President Trump discussed his planned Muslim ban, he described not the preference for religious minorities, but the plan to ban the entry of nationals from certain dangerous countries as a means to carry out the Muslim ban. These statements thus continue to explain the religious purpose behind the travel ban in the Second Executive Order. Under these circumstances, the fact that the Second Executive Order is facially neutral in terms of religion is not dispositive. See Bd. of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Vill. Sch. Dist. v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687, 699-702 (1994) (holding that a facially neutral delegation of civic power to “qualified voters” of a village predominantly comprised of followers of Satmas Hasidism was a “purposeful and forbidden” violation of the Establishment Clause); cf Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 534, 542 (1993) (holding that a facially neutral city ordinance prohibiting animal sacrifice and intended to target the Santeria faith violated the Free Exercise Clause because “the Free Exercise Clause, like the Establishment Clause, extends beyond facial discrimination” and action


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targeting religion “cannot be shielded by mere compliance with the requirement of facial neutrality”).

Defendants do not directly contest that this record of public statements reveals a religious motivation for the travel ban. Rather, they argue that many of the statements may not be considered because they were made outside the formal government decisionmaking process or before President Trump became a government official. Although McCreary, relied upon by Defendants, states that a court considers “the text, legislative history, and implementation” of an action and “comparable” official acts, it did not purport to list the only materials appropriate for consideration? 545 U.S. at 862. Notably, in Green v. Haskell County Board of Commissioners, 568 F.3d 784 (10th Cir. 2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit considered quotes from county commissioners that appeared in news reports in finding that a Ten Commandments display violated the Establishment Clause. Id. at 701. Likewise, in Glassroth, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found an Establishment Clause violation based on a record that included the state chief justice’s campaign materials, including billboards and television commercials, proclaiming him to be the “Ten Commandments Judge.” 335 F.3d at 1282, 1284-85, 1297.

Although statements must be fairly “attributed to [a] government actor,” Glassman v. Arlington Cty., 628 F.3d 140, 147 (4th Cir. 2010), Defendants have cited no authority concluding

2 In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557, 624 n.52 (2006), cited by Defendants, the Court criticized a dissent’s reliance on press statements by senior government officials, rather than the President’s formal written determination mandated by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, to provide justification for the government’s determination that applying court-martial rules to a terrorism suspect’s military commission was impracticable. Id. at 624 & n.52. It did not address what facts could be considered in assessing government purpose under the Establishment Clause, where courts have held that facts outside the specific text of the government decision may be considered. See Edwards, 482 U.S. at 594-95.


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that a court assessing purpose under the Establishment Clause may consider only statements made by government employees at the time that they were government employees. Simply because a decisionmaker made the statements during a campaign does not wipe them from the “reasonable memory” of a “reasonable observer.” McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866. Notably, the record in Glassroth also included the fact that the state chief justice, before securing election to that position, had made a campaign promise to install the Ten Commandments in the state courthouse, as well as campaign materials issued by members of his campaign committee. Glassroth, 335 F.3d at 1285. Because the state chief justice was the ultimate decisionmaker, and his campaign committee’s statements were fairly attributable to him, such material is appropriately considered in assessing purpose under the Establishment Clause. See id. at 1285; Glassman, 628 F.3d at 147. Likewise, all of the public statements at issue here are fairly attributable to President Trump, the government decisionmaker for the Second Executive Order, because they were made by President Trump himself, whether during the campaign or as President, by White House staff, or by a close campaign advisor who was relaying a conversation he had with the President. In contrast, Defendants’ cited case law does not involve statements fairly attributable to the government decisionmaker. See, e.g., Glassman, 628 F.3d at

147 (declining to consider statements made by members of a church that was alleged to have benefited from government action); Weinbaum v. City of Las Cruces, 541 F.3d 1017, 1031 (lOth Cir. 2008) (declining to consider statements by the artist where the government’s display of artwork is challenged); Modrovich v. Allegheny Cty., 385 F.3d 397, 411 (3d Cir. 2004) (declining to consider statements by a judge and county residents about a Ten Commandments display where the county government’s purpose was at issue).


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Defendants also argue that the Second Executive Order explicitly articulates a national security purpose, and that unlike its predecessor, it includes relevant information about national security concerns. In particular, it asserts that there is a heightened chance that individuals from the Designated Countries will be “terrorist operatives or sympathizers” because each country is “a state sponsor of terrorism, has’ been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones,” and those governments are therefore less likely to provide necessary information for the immigrant vetting process. 2d Order ~ 1(d). The Order also references a history of persons born abroad committing terrorism-related crimes in the United States and identifies three specific cases of such crimes. The Order further states that more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations.

Plaintiffs argue that the stated national security rationale is limited and flawed. Among other points, they note that the Second Executive Order does not identify examples of foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen who engaged in terrorist activity in the United States. They also note that a report from the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, concluded that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity” and that “few of the impacted countries have terrorist groups that threaten the West.” l.R. 158. Furthermore, they note that the 300 FBI investigations are dwarfed by the over 11,000 counterterrorism investigations at anyone time, only a fraction of which lead to actual evidence of illegal activity. Finally, they note that Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly stated that there are additional countries, some of which are not predominantly Muslim, that have vetting problems but are not included among the banned


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countries. These facts raise legitimate questions whether the travel ban for the Designated Countries is actually warranted.

Generally, however, courts should afford deference to national security and foreign policy judgments of the Executive Branch. Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561 U.S. 1, 33-34 (2010). The Court thus should not, and will not, second-guess the conclusion that national security interests would be served by the travel ban. The question, however, is not simply whether the Government has identified a secular purpose for the travel ban. If the stated secular purpose is secondary to the religious purpose, the Establishment Clause would be violated. See McCreary, 545 U.S. at 864, 866 n.14 (stating that it is appropriate to treat two like acts differently where one has a “history manifesting sectarian purpose that the other lacks”). Making assessments on purpose, and the relative weight of different purposes, is a core judicial function. See id. at 861-62.

In this highly unique case, the record provides strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban. First, the core concept of the travel ban was adopted in the First Executive Order, without the interagency consultation process typically followed on such matters. Notably, the document providing the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security was issued not before the First Executive Order, but on March 6, 2017, the same day that the Second Executive Order was issued. The fact that the White House took the highly irregular step of first introducing the travel ban without receiving the input and judgment of the relevant national security agencies strongly suggests that the religious purpose was primary, and the national security purpose, even if legitimate, is a

secondary post hoc rationale.


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Second, the fact that the national security rationale was offered only after courts issued injunctions against the First Executive Order suggests that the religious purpose has been, and remains, primary. Courts have been skeptical of statements of purpose “expressly disclaim(ing] any attempt to endorse religion” when made after a judicial finding of impermissible purpose, describing them as a “litigating position.” E.g., Am. Civil Liberties Union of Ky. v. McCreary Cty., 607 F.3d 439, 444, 448 (6t~ Cir. 2010). Indeed, the Second Executive Order itself acknowledges that the changes made since the First Executive Order were to address “judicial concerns.” 2d Order S l(i).

Third, although it is undisputed that there are heightened security risks with the Designated Countries, as reflected in the fact that those who traveled to those countries or were nationals of some of those countries have previously been barred from the Visa Waiver Program, see 8 U.S.C. S 1187(a)(12), the travel ban represents an unprecedented response. Significantly, during the time period since the Reagan Administration, which includes the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, there have been no instances in which the President has invoked his authority under S1182(f) or S1185 to issue a ban on the entry into the United States of all citizens from more than one country at the same time, much less six nations all at once. Kate M. Manuel, Congo Research Serv., R44743, Executive Authority to Exclude Aliens: In Brief (2017); l.R. 405-406. In the two instances in which nationals from a single country were temporarily

stopped, there was an articulable triggering event that warranted such action. Manuel, supra, at 10-11 (referencing the suspension of the entry of Cuban nationals under President Reagan after Cuba stopped complying with U.S. immigration requirements and the revocation of visas issued to Iranians under President Carter during the Iran Hostage Crisis). The Second Executive Order does not explain specifically why this extraordinary, unprecedented action is the necessary


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response to the existing risks. But while the travel ban bears no resemblance to any response to a national security risk in recent history, it bears a clear resemblance to the precise action that President Trump described as effectuating his Muslim ban. Thus, it is more likely that the primary purpose of the travel ban was grounded in religion, and even if the Second Executive Order has a national security purpose, it is likely that its primary purpose remains the effectuation of the proposed Muslim ban. Accordingly, there is a likelihood that the travel ban violates the Establishment Clause.

Finally, Defendants argue that because the Establishment Clause claim implicates Congress’s plenary power over immigration as delegated to the President, the Court need only consider whether the Government has offered a “facially legitimate and bona fide reason” for its action. See Mandel, 408 U.S. at 777. This standard is most typically applied when a court is asked to review an executive officer’s decision to deny a visa. See, e.g., Din, 135 S. Ct. at 2140 (Kennedy, J., concurring); or in other matters relating to the immigration rights of individual aliens or citizens, see Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787, 790 (1977). The Mandel test, however, does not apply to the “promulgation of sweeping immigration policy” at the “highest levels of the political branches.” Washington, 847 F.3d at 1162 (holding that courts possess “the authority to review executive action” on matters of immigration and national security for “compliance with the Constitution”). In such situations, the power of the Executive and Legislative branches to create immigration law remains “subject to important constitutional limitations.” Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 695 (2001) (quoting INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919,941-42 (1983)).

Even when exercising their immigration powers, the political branches must choose “constitutionally permissible means of implementing that power.” Chadha, 462 U.S. at 941. Courts have therefore rejected arguments that they forgo the traditional constitutional analysis


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when a plaintiff has challenged the Government’s exercise of immigration power as violating the Constitution. See, e.g., Zadvydas, 533 U.S. at 695 (rejecting deference to plenary power in determining that indefinite detention of aliens violated the Due Process Clause); Chadha, 462 U.S. at 941-43 (stating that Congress’s plenary authority over the regulation of aliens does not permit it to “offend some other constitutional restriction” and holding that a statute permitting Congress to overturn the Executive Branch’s decision to allow a deportable alien to remain in the United States violated constitutional provisions relating to separation of powers); Washington, 847 F.3d at 1167-68 (referencing standard Establishment Clause principles as applicable to the claim that the First Executive Order violated the Establishment Clause). Thus, although “[t]he Executive has broad discretion over the admission and exclusion of aliens,” that discretion “may not transgress constitutional limitations,” and it is “the duty of the courts” to “say where those statutory and constitutional boundaries lie.” Abourezk, 785 F.2d at 1061.

Mindful of “the fundamental place held by the Establishment Clause in our constitutional scheme and the myriad, subtle ways in which Establishment Clause values can be eroded,” Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 694 (1984), the Court finds that the Plaintiffs have established that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. Having reached this conclusion, the Court need not address Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on their Equal Protection Clause claim.

Read the full decision here:


PWS 03/16/17



BREAKING: ENJOINED AGAIN! NATIONWIDE TRO! Judge in Hawaii Says Travel Ban Violates Establishment Clause! Trump Administration Basically Found “Not Credible” On Immigration/National Security Claims — Trump’s Own Statements & Those of Giuliani, Miller Used To Show Bias!

Report from HuffPost:

“A federal judge in Hawaii has placed a nationwide hold on key aspects of President Donald Trump’s second attempt at a ban on travel ― a scaled-back version that targeted all non-visa holders from six Muslim-majority countries, as well as a halt on the U.S. refugee resettlement program ― just hours before the new restrictions were to take effect.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said sections of the new travel order likely amounted to a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids the government from disfavoring certain religions over others.

Watson gave short shrift to the Trump administration’s argument that the new restrictions applied to a “small fraction” of the world’s 50 predominantly Muslim nations ― and thus could not be read to discriminate Muslims specifically.

“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable,” Watson wrote. “The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”

The judge also discarded the government’s defense that the text of the new executive order was silent on religion, supposedly solving constitutional defects identified by courts with the first order.

“Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude … that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, secondary to a religious objective of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims,” Watson wrote.”


Here is Judge Watson’s written decision in State of Hawaii v. Trump:

More bad news for the Administration — the Third Circuit has enjoined the removal of an Afghani interpreter with a visa who was denied admission and allegedly “withdrew” his application. Read about it in the WashPost here:


It’s early in the game on the Administration’s uncompromisingly hard line approach to immigration issues. So far, however, they have racked up an impressive string of losses from coast to coast from Article III Judges all across the spectrum.

In other words, the bombastically inappropriate statements made by Trump and his advisors have “poisoned the well,” and the Administration is probably going to find it difficult to “un-poison” it. And, as long as guys like Bannon, Sessions, Miller, and Kobach are calling the shots, that might never happen.

As some have suggested, perhaps the President and his advisors need a type of “Executive Miranda Warnings” before they shoot off their mouths (or their Twitters) in public: “Everything you say (or Tweet) can and will be used against you.”

The next stop for “Travel Ban 2.0” probably will be the 9th Circuit. But, since the Administration already lost there on its appeal of the TRO in State of Washington v. Trump, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the 9th Circuit to lift the TRO. Like President Obama with the “DAPA Fiasco,” President Trump is learning that U.S. District Judges wield considerable power in our system.  As one of my colleagues once said, “U.S. District Judges are the last living potentates.”

None of this bodes well for the Administration’s next ill-advised plan — to ramp up removals, increase the use of immigration detention, maximize “expedited removal,” and reduce what’s left of the U.S. Immigration Court to the equivalent of two-shift assembly line workers churning out removal orders. Chances are that the Article III Courts are going to have something to say about that too. And, unless the Administration moderates its approach, it’s not likely to be anything they like.





NYT WORLD: “Where Refugees Come From” by Adam Pearce

“President Trump signed a new executive order on Monday [March 6] to ban all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. The order also cuts the refugee program in half, capping it at 50,000 people for the 2017 fiscal year, down from the 110,000 ceiling put in place under President Obama.

The United States accepted 84,994 refugees from 78 different countries in 2016. The order also temporarily halts new visas for six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.”


There is an “interactive map/chart” in the full article at the link.