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Home | Tag Archives: muslim ban

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Federal Judge Temporarily blocks Trump’s Entry Order Nationwide

A federal judge in Washington State declared Friday that he would temporarily block enforcement of President Trump’s controversial ban on entry to the United States — a ruling that appears to be broader than others before it, though the precise details have yet to be revealed.

Judge James L. Robart granted a request from lawyers for the state of Washington who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s executive order. The order bars from entering the United States citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries as well as refugees and others. Meanwhile, Justice and State department officials revealed Friday that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been revoked as a result of Trump’s order.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson hailed the case as “the first of its kind” and declared that it “shuts down the executive order immediately.”

The practical implications of the ruling remained unclear, in part because the judge did not lay out his thinking in writing. The judge, a George W. Bush appointee, indicated in a docket entry that he would issue a written ruling later. The Justice Department said in a statement that it “looks forward to reviewing the court’s written order and will determine next steps.”

Another complicating factor is that the State Department has revoked the visas of all immigrants and nonimmigrants from the seven listed countries. Without proper documents, those who are prohibited from entering the country may still not be able to board planes.

Immigration lawyers said Friday night they were still assessing the Washington case, though they were heartened by it.

“The order makes it clear that all of the main provisions of the executive order cannot be enforced at this time,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “That means that a lot will have to change immediately, and the government will have to make clear how they intend to follow the order with respect to all of the ways in which immigrants here and abroad are being affected at the moment.”

Since it was first rolled out a week ago, Trump’s travel ban has been evolving — both because of legal challenges and as a result of decisions by the administration to walk back aspects of it. Green-card holders from the affected countries, for example, no longer need waivers to get into the United States, as they did when the order took effect. And the Department of Homeland Security asserted Friday that the order does not apply to dual citizens with passports from countries other than the seven listed.

The numbers of visas revoked, too, demonstrated just how far-reaching the impact of the order would be. Families will remain split, students unable to pursue their education, those in the United States unable to leave for fear of not being able to return — and not by the handful, but by the tens of thousands.

During a hearing in a lawsuit by two Yemeni brothers who arrived at Dulles International Airport last Saturday and were quickly put on a return flight to Ethi­o­pia because of the new restrictions, a Justice Department lawyer said 100,000 visas had been revoked. While the government is working to resolve the Yemeni brothers’ case and return the men to the United States, lawyers at the hearing addressed the broader impact of the ban.

The figure, though, was immediately disputed by the State Department, which said the number of visas revoked was roughly 60,000. A spokeswoman said the revocations have no impact on the legal status of people already in the United States, but if those people leave the United States, their visas will no longer be valid.

About the same time, in Boston, a group of four students enrolled in area colleges, a researcher and the spouse of a permanent resident — all of whom came from countries affected by the ban — flew into the United States.

The group that entered was aboard the same flight from Frankfurt operated by the German airline Lufthansa, which a day earlier had noted on its website a court decision that it claimed had “suspended” Trump’s decree on flights to Boston. Lawyers hailed the development as good news.

“We’ve got six more today than we had yesterday,” said Susan Church, an attorney for the American Immigration Lawyers Association of New England.

Among those who made their way back to the United States were two undergraduate Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who had been visiting their families for winter break; as well as 27-year-old Behnam Partopour, a PhD student from Iran studying chemical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who had been working on a project in Germany; and Samira Asgari, an Iranian scientist who was headed to Boston to conduct research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Colleen Wamback of Worcester Polytechnic Institute said Partopour had a student visa which was issued before the executive order but was delayed in getting to him. Asgari, on the other hand, had tried twice to board flights to the United States but was turned away because of the ban. She had filed a lawsuit over the matter.

Though federal judges in other parts of the country already had restrained enforcement of the ban, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs’s order in Boston went somewhat further — blocking U.S. officials from detaining or removing those who, “absent the executive order, would be legally authorized to enter the United States.” Burroughs also ordered that her ruling be communicated to airlines.

On Thursday, the airline Lufthansa had posted on its website a vague notice that Trump’s executive order was “suspended” on flights to Boston, citing the court’s decision there. Officials with the ACLU hailed the posting, declaring on Twitter that Lufthansa was “now boarding travelers from the seven banned countries” in accordance with the order of the federal court in Massachusetts.

The airline, though, said that only those with “valid travel documents” would be eligible to board. On Jan. 27, the State Department had revoked all valid nonimmigrant and immigrant visas of nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In a letter, Edward J. Ramotowski, State Department deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said that the revocation would not apply to “any visa exempted on the basis of a determination made by the secretaries of State and Homeland Security” and that those exemptions would be determined “on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest.”

Lufthansa later removed the language about the executive order being suspended. Then, on Friday, another federal judge ruled that his colleague’s order should be allowed to expire, as it had been set to do, on Sunday. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton declared that those suing had “not demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on the merits of any of their claims.”

Christina Semmel, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa, declined to comment on when the airline began allowing travel to Boston. She said Lufthansa was simply following guidance it and other carriers had received from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

Church, with the American Immigration Lawyers Association of New England, said she knew of no official exemption for the passengers who made it to Boston.

“We’re telling everyone to try to get to Frankfurt or Munich, because they are letting them on the planes there,” she said, before a judge ruled the court order there would expire.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who had been in touch with lawyers and U.S. officials and was at the airport to greet those arriving, said he did not know if others might be able to get in through Boston.

“Look, this is an awful executive order to begin with, but what made it even worse, was no one even knew what the hell it did,” McGovern said. “I feel ashamed that good people had to go through this awful process. It’s just shameful. I’m embarrassed by it all.”

Federal judges in New York, California, Massachusetts and Virginia have already issued rulings temporarily blocking aspects of the Trump order — though the orders all seemed to be limited to people who had made their way to U.S. airports, or, in Virginia’s case, to certain people.

The New York and Massachusetts rulings both blocked the government from detaining or deporting anyone from the seven affected countries who could legally enter the United States, and the Massachusetts ruling added the critical phrase “absent the executive order.” In California, a judge declared that U.S. officials were also prevented from “blocking” people from entering who had a valid visa.

Washington and Minnesota had filed a broad legal challenge to the order, alleging it was “separating families, harming thousands of the States’ residents, damaging the States’ economies, hurting State-based companies, and undermining both States’ sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.” Jeffrey P. Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post and a Washington state resident, has spoken out against the ban.

With its suit ongoing, Washington state asked a federal judge there to block the order immediately, on a temporary basis. The Justice Department responded that the president had broad power to set immigration authority and that the states were unlikely to succeed in their challenge.

Doug Struck, Lori Aratani, Rachel Weiner, Abigail Hauslohner and Sari Horwitz contributed to this report.


State Senator Rodriguez: Texas’ Opportunity to Lead; Muslims, Immigrants Welcome

Austin – On Tuesday, Sen. José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus,  issued the following statement:

Today is Texas Muslim Capitol Day, and I for one welcome the visits. In my office, we don’t see Muslims or immigrants as threats. Religious freedom is a core American principle, and to target those of a particular faith with a broad brush is antithetical to our values.

Immigrants come seeking an opportunity to better their lives in a country whose founding document holds “all men are created equal” and promises “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. With the exception of a few, all Americans were once immigrants. As in the past, today’s immigrants enrich our culture and are vital to our economy; in that, we are all in this together.

We saw that this weekend when, from Texas’ DFW to airports around the country, thousands of Americans rallied in reaction to the chaos of an ill-planned, un-American, and most likely illegal executive order that many experts say will make us less safe at home and endanger Americans stationed or traveling abroad.

No person in America has been killed by a terror attack by people from those countries, and the order did not address travelers from other countries that are known sponsors of terror, such as Saudi Arabia, where most of the 9-11 terrorists came from. Nor did the order address people from countries where the President has known business interests.

With this order, the President doesn’t build on our American values of inclusion, tolerance, and diversity but rather he stokes fear and sows division. Ironically, the order was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Thankfully, after a day of turmoil that dimmed the light of freedom we project to the world, federal judges in New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Washington issued temporary stays on the order, Media reports indicate lack of clarity and communication between the administration and the agencies charged with carrying out the order. What happened is not clear, and neither is what’s next.

This order was just the latest in a week of reckless actions taken by the new administration. The President put American taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars to build an unnecessary “wall” on the border, targeted immigrants for mass deportations, and then may have started a trade war with Mexico, Texas’ closest international business partner, which would be catastrophic for businesses and consumers.

Texas depends on immigrants for its economic vitality, from those who pick crops to those who create technology. The President’s first week in office was an attack on the people and policies that have helped Texas diversify its economy, on the soul of our nation of immigrants, and on our heart for those searching for a beacon of welcome. We reject these policies of fear.

On Thursday, Texans will get their first look at the trickle down effects of such attitudes on the Texas Legislature, as we debate a so-called “sanctuary cities” bill. This is an unnecessary proposal that does nothing to make us safer, will hurt business, and place communities under a cloud of suspicion.

We have defeated similar proposals in the past, but this is the first time that we will consider the proposal under a backdrop of a President recklessly targeting immigrants and minorities. The Texas Legislature cannot follow in his footsteps.

Last session, Muslim visitors were greeted by some legislators with demands that they sign loyalty oaths. Today, and every day, we must stand up against fear and bigotry with a Texas-size welcome.

Texas Refugee Advocates Criticize Trump’s Immigration Order

DALLAS — As President Trump’s executive order plunged the U.S. immigration system into chaos over the weekend, refugee advocates in Texas were scrambling to make sense of the situation.

Hundreds of migrants were detained at international airports around the country, including at Dallas-Fort Worth International and Houston’s Bush Intercontinental, before an order from a federal judge prompted the release of most – but not all – of them.

Aaron Rippenkroeger, CEO of Refugee Services of Texas, a statewide nonprofit advocacy group, called President Trump’s new policy un-American.

“We don’t agree with this action, but even so, there’s just so many better ways it could’ve been done,” Rippenkroeger said. “But to do it so abruptly with people in transit – literally mid-air – is just horrifying. It’s really a travesty, both the action and also the way it was carried out.”

The president signed the order Friday afternoon. It bans Syrian refugees, temporarily blocks citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and suspends all refugee admissions for four months.

Many refugees were in transit when the order was issued and were initially detained or turned back when their flights arrived in the U.S.

The events spurred protests at major airports over the weekend, including those in Texas. Rippenkroeger said the new policy is causing fear and confusion among refugees already settled here.

“We have refugees coming into our office,” said Rippenkrieger, “saying, ‘Am I going to be sent back to the war zone that I came from? What does this mean? Am I no longer allowed to stay here? Am I not going to be able to go through the citizenship process that you all explained to me?'”

Despite opposition from the political right, Texas has taken in the second-greatest number of refugees in the U.S. in recent years. Rippenkroeger said the vetting for migrants wishing to enter the U.S. already is the toughest anywhere.

“The most extreme in the world, already, from any country by far,” he said. “It’s more rigorous than any other country does and by far the most rigorous that the U.S. has ever had, and by far more than anyone else traveling to the U.S.”

Rippenkroeger said he is heartened that, despite the partisan rhetoric, thousands of everyday Texans have volunteered to help settle the state’s refugees and make them feel welcome.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

Rep. O’Rourke: ‘Refusing Refugees is Shameful’

On Monday, via his Facebook page, Congressman Beto O’Rourke harshly criticized President Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban from several Middle Eastern countries.

In addition to his comments, O’Rourke also said he would be co-sponsoring a bill that would, if passed, prohibit the President from using religion to determine which immigrants would be allowed into the country.

Rep. O’Rourke’s complete comment is included below.

Refusing refugees is shameful. Accepting them based on their religion is unconstitutional. Banning immigrants from countries who had nothing to do with the worst terror attacks in this country’s history makes no sense. Stopping Syrians fleeing the worst slaughter and forced migration the world has seen in decades is inhumane.

And building walls between the U.S. and Mexico will humiliate one of our closest economic and security partners in the world.

All of these actions make our country less safe, not more. They make us weaker, not stronger. They ignore the best in who we are to embrace the worst.

Today I joined my colleague Grace Meng in co-sponsoring the “No Funds for Unconstitutional Executive Orders Act” which will prohibit the President from using religion to determine which refugees and immigrants are accepted into the United States.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to find ways to stop what’s un-American and offer proposals for what makes us stronger.

I will do everything in my power to reverse this slip in our national conscience and values lest it become a slide into a dark future of paranoia and tyranny.

Trump’s Travel Ban Leads to Immigrant Detainments at Texas Airports

Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries led to the detainment of several travelers at Texas airports.

As in airports across the country, President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from certain countries in the Middle East reverberated at Texas airports on Saturday.

Though a federal judge has temporarily blocked the deportation of any travelers with valid visas, Trump’s ban on the entry of individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries led to the detainment of a Chevon engineer in Houston, a 70-year-old Iranian woman headed to meet her son in Dallas and several others in the state throughout the day.

The migratory chaos stemmed from an executive order Trump signed Friday that, in part, restricts travel from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days — reportedly even for legal permanent residents returning to the United States. As international flights landed at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport north of Houston and at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, individuals were detained by immigration officials because of Trump’s order.

At least 11 individuals were detained in Dallas and another was held in Houston. An Iraqi national headed to Houston where his wife and young son live was detained in New York.

A lawsuit involving the Iraqi national, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, ultimately led to a temporary stay issued late Saturday by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in New York, which prevented the deportations of people detained under Trump’s order on their way into the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations filed the lawsuit in New York early Saturday on behalf Alshawi and another Iraqi national. Alshawi was detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport despite being issued a valid visa earlier this month to reunite with his wife and 7-year-old son in the United States.

Alshawi’s wife had worked for a U.S. contractor but fled Iraq with their son after being targeted by insurgents, according to the court filing. She applied for refugee status for her and their son, and they are now legal permanent residents in Houston.

While Alshawi and the others with valid visas are safe for now from immediate deportation, family members the detainees spent hours waiting for their loved ones to be released.

In Dallas, Behcad Honarjou was waiting for his 70-year-old mother to be released after arriving at 9:30 a.m. She recently obtained a visa to visit him but was denied entry once she arrived at the airport.

“I’m still at the airport, and I don’t know what to do,” Honarjou said minutes before the federal judge ruled that detainees with valid visas could not be deported. “She is on bad health conditions right now.”

The detainees in Dallas were among those who “got caught up” in Trump’s executive order, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters Saturday evening. Before the New York judge had blocked their deportations, Rawlings had said the detainees were told they were not getting into the United States and were going to be sent back on the next available flights.

Local news outlets reported that a few detainees were released by immigration officials earlier in the day. Rawlings’ office announced 11 individuals were still detained at the airport as of 8 p.m.

The fallout from Trump’s executive order was not limited to those visiting the United States. In Houston, an Iranian citizen who works as engineer for Chevron was detained for several hours after returning from Iran where he was visiting his father who recently underwent heart surgery.

The engineer, whose first name is Majid, took the first flight back to Houston after rumors about Trump’s executive order reached Iran, according to his attorney Mana Yegani. Despite his legal permanent status and long-time residency in Houston, he was questioned by immigration officials who recorded his responses to several questions and checked his phone and social media accounts.

“When his plane was taxiing, I spoke with him briefly and said, ‘Listen, they may put you in handcuffs, they may put you in interrogation. Do not under any circumstances give up your green card,” Yegani said, noting that most immigrants traveling back to the United States wouldn’t have received the same guidance.

“Generally, when people travel they don’t have an attorney on standby,” she added.

The scenes at Texas airports — where dozens of protestors had gathered through the day — were repeated at airports across the country where many travelers were blindsided by Trump’s executive order. The administration has firmly held that the travel ban is meant to increase national security, and officials stood by the policy on Saturday despite the detainments.

But pointing to the detention of individuals with valid visas, immigration advocates and some local officials lambasted Trump’s order. In Dallas, Rawlings said the policy “purports to be a response to national security” but was proving to be harmful to individuals across the country.

“Let’s remember that this is not just a political issue,” Rawlings said on Saturday. “It’s a human issue — it’s a human issue where families are being kept apart.”

While airport detainees reportedly did not include refugees traveling to the United States, Trump’s executive order — which also indefinitely bans the entry of Syrian refugees and halts all refugee admissions for 120 days — also caused the cancellation of travel plans for thousands of refugees, according to refugee resettlement officials.

More than 2,000 refugees were booked to travel the United States in the coming week, said Melanie Nezer, vice president of the refugee resettlement agency HIAS.

Trump’s order is expected to keep thousands of refugees from being resettled in Texas. More than 600 refugees fleeing violence and persecution were resettled in Texas since Jan. 1., and refugee resettlement agencies were expecting to help thousands more start new lives in the state this year.

About 10 percent of refugees admitted into the country each year are typically resettled in Texas. But the total number of refugees resettled in the state is expected to be much lower compared to previous years in light of the Trump administration decision to also significantly reduce the total number of refugees allowed in the United States.

Author:  ALEXA URA – The Texas Tribune

UT Poll: Most Texas Voters Support Banning Muslims, Building Border Wall

A majority of Texas’ registered voters believe Muslims who are not U.S. citizens should be banned from entering the country, according to results of a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll released Tuesday.

The survey found that 31 percent of voters “strongly supported” denying such people entry, with another 22 percent “somewhat” supporting the idea. Thirty-seven percent of voters opposed the effort while 10 percent expressed no preference.

Among Republicans, 76 percent said they would support banning non-U.S. citizen Muslims from entering the country. About 25 percent of voters who identified as Democrats agreed. 

A majority of the respondents of the survey, 51 percent, also favored the immediate deportation of undocumented immigrants, while 52 percent said they either “strongly” (34 percent) or “somewhat” (18 percent) supported building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Twenty-four percent of the Democrats supported immediate deportation compared with 73 percent of Republicans.

Seventy-six percent of the Republicans asked also favored a wall separating the two countries.

The poll also found that there is less-than-majority support for immigration reform with or without a path to eventual citizenship. Half of the respondents were asked about comprehensive immigration reform with a path toward citizenship for most undocumented immigrants: 24 percent of them “strongly” supported that idea, while 25 percent “somewhat” supported it.

The other half of the respondents were asked about immigration reform allowing legal residence but not citizenship: 20 percent said they “strongly” supported a path to legal status without citizenship, while 27 “somewhat” supported that idea. The margin of error for those questions is about +/- 4.07 and +/- 3.94 percentage points, respectively.

The poll of 1,200 registered voters was performed June 10-20 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Other results from the same survey, released Monday, show GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump leads Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 8 points in Texas. Trump has made banning Muslims and building a wall a centerpiece of his campaign.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

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