Immigration and Citizenship

Darweesh, et al. v. Trump, et al.

In Darweesh v. Trump, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York was asked to issue a preliminary injunction blocking President Trump’s travel and refugee ban on the grounds that it violated the Constitution’s Religion Clauses, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the ban on nationality discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Case Summary

On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that banned individuals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – all majority Muslim countries – from entering the United States. It also gave preference to non-Muslim refugees over Muslim refugees entering from other countries worldwide. The order abridged the rights of countless individuals with ties to the seven Muslim-majority countries named in the order, barred from entry into the United States hundreds of visa holders who had already undergone months of rigorous vetting, and led to the unjustified detention at airports of countless individuals lawfully entering the country.

Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi who has worked for the United States military, and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, also an Iraqi, were detained at John F. Kennedy airport just hours after the executive order went into effect. Both men had valid entry documentation, and had been approved to travel to the United States. Darweesh and Alshawi filed an Emergency Motion for Stay of Removal on behalf of themselves and other individuals facing the same predicament. Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York granted their motion for emergency relief. The case was subsequently transferred to another federal judge, who is considering whether to grant preliminary injunctive relief to the petitioners and to the State of New York, which intervened in the case supporting the petitioners.

CAC, together with co-counsel, filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of 167 members of Congress supporting the petitioners, arguing that because the order discriminates on the basis of religion, it could not be squared with the text and history of the Constitution. One of our nation’s most deeply rooted constitutional values is that the government must neither establish nor favor (or disfavor) any particular religion. Both Article VI and the First Amendment of the Constitution forbid singling out members of a specific religion for disparate treatment. Additionally, religious discrimination violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process, which protects both citizens and noncitizens. Our brief also argued that the executive order discriminated on the basis of national origin in violation of equal protection principles and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which bans such discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas.

The Trump Administration and petitioners settled the case and agreed that individuals prevented from entering the country under the January order must be notified of their right to reapply for visas. The case was officially closed by the court.

Case Timeline

  • January 27, 2017

    President Trump issues executive order

  • February 16, 2017

    CAC files amicus brief on behalf of Members of Congress

    E.D.N.Y. Amicus Brief
  • September 21, 2017

    The district court closes case after the parties settle

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