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Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law Files Amicus Brief In SCOTUS Case

Regarding Trump’s Discriminatory Travel Ban Executive Order


The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law this week filed an amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief in the United States Supreme Court in the cases challenging President Trump's executive orders, which bar most nationals of Iran and five other predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The brief was filed in coordination with pro bono counsel Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (APKS), Iranian-American civil rights lawyer Cyrus Mehri, and his Washington, D.C.-based firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, on behalf of four prominent Iranian American organizations: Pars Equality Center, the Iranian American Bar Association, the National Iranian American Council, and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, Inc. The brief highlights the harms to Iranians and Iranian Americans caused by the travel ban.

"President Trump's second attempt at a Muslim ban did nothing to cure the discriminatory and unconstitutional effect of the original travel ban. It continues to invite illegal profiling of minority and religious communities on the basis of race, national origin and religion right here in the United States," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "This kind of act stirs hate in our communities and it threatens the stability of our democracy."

The amicus brief filed on Monday states: "The government's argument trivializes the real, lasting, and irreparable injuries that the travel ban has visited on an entire community--for nothing more than invidious discrimination that President Trump and his advisors have scarcely bothered and utterly failed to conceal. The travel ban effectively tars every Iranian citizen, Muslim or non-Muslim, religious or secular, infant or adult, as a proponent of 'radical Islam' and an incipient terrorist. This baseless stereotyping has placed educational and career plans on hold, separated families, and disrupted (and even imperiled) countless lives."

President Trump's travel ban, parts of which have been struck down by multiple federal courts, has "upended the lives of thousands of individuals and families in the United States and around the world," the brief states. Those individuals, whose stories are related in the brief, include:

  • Ali Asaei, an electrical engineer who came to the United States on an F-1 student visa in 2015. Mr. Asaei's family lives in Iran, and he has not seen his father or brother since 2013. The travel ban prevents his family members from visiting the United States.
  • Omid Moghimi, a dual citizen of Iran and the United States, earned his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston and is now a resident in internal medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dr. Moghimi married Dorsa Razi in July 2015 in Iran. While his wife ultimately gained admittance to the United States on a family visa, his mother-in-law remains in Iran, hoping to be reunited with her daughter and son-in-law.
  • Pedram, who lives in Canada and has not lived in Iran since 1991. His parents, brother and sister, and his siblings' spouses and children all live in San Diego, California. Pedram's siblings are both naturalized American citizens, and his parents are lawful permanent residents in the process of obtaining their citizenship. Pedram's visa application has been placed in "administrative processing" and Pedram has received no further guidance from the State Department regarding his visa. In the meantime, Pedram's father suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed; his brother had a son born in the United States, whom Pedram has not yet had the chance to meet.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, and Mehri & Skalet, PLLC separately filed litigation in February against the travel ban, which remains pending in the D.C. District Court. The lawsuit seeks to protect and defend the Iranian-American community in the United States and abroad from the harmful and discriminatory effects of the executive orders. Plaintiffs in the D.C. District Court lawsuit include the Pars Equality Center, Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, Inc. (PAAIA). This case marked the first major legal challenge to the travel ban on behalf of organizational clients in the D.C. District Court.

The Supreme Court brief filed on Monday includes testimony from the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), whose members worked tirelessly on the front lines of travel ban response by providing legal support and assistance at airports, and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, Inc. (PAAIA), a national organization which in light of the travel ban has increased its public-education efforts to combat the rise in hate crimes against Iranian Americans, and has increased fundraising efforts to compensate victims of such crimes.

To read the full amicus brief, click here.

The Lawyers' Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar's leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity - work that continues to be vital today.

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