Litigation

When we identified egregious delays in the Special Immigrant Visa program for those who risked their lives to work alongside U.S. troops, we sued the government in 2015—and won! And, in January of 2017, when the President issued his first executive order, we once again saw the rights of our clients and other refugees and immigrants being violated. With the help of a coalition of lawyers and students, we went back to court. Since then, our litigation work has resulted in relief for thousands of refugees and others affected by the executive orders.

The court rulings blocking the Muslim bans have demonstrated the need to turn to the judicial branch to check executive abuse of power. In order to be able to quickly respond to executive overreach, IRAP has created our own in-house litigation shop and will continue to aggressively litigate in support of refugees’ and immigrants’ rights.

Learn more about these lawsuits and our wider litigation efforts:

IRAP v. Trump

IRAP is the named plaintiff in IRAP v. Trump, the first lawsuit to challenge both President Trump’s original and revised Executive Orders in their entirety. The complaint states that the order discriminates against Muslims because of their religion and is thus unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed by IRAP, HIAS, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), and individual plaintiffs. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) are acting as co-counsel.

On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court decided to review the case, however, canceled October oral arguments after the President signed a new Proclamation on September 24 which restricted travel from eight, majority Muslim, countries. On October 17, Hawaii Federal Judge Derrick Watson granted motion for a temporary restraining order, which blocked the newest Proclamation from taking effect. After subsequent oral arguments at the Maryland District Court, in response to an amended complaint filed by IRAP, the ACLU, and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Judge Theodore Chuang ruled in favor of a partial preliminary injunction, providing relief to thousands who would’ve been affected by these sweeping, discriminatory travel restrictions. On February 15, 2018, the Fourth Circuit en banc affirmed the injunction.

View the press release: GROUPS FILE NEW CHALLENGE TO TRUMP MUSLIM BAN Press Release Feb 7 2017

View the February 7, 2017 complaint: IRAP_v_Trump_Complaint

View the October 17, 2017 preliminary injunction: Order Granting Plaintiffs Motion for a Preliminary Injunction

View the February 15, 2018 Fourth Circuit decision: Order Affirming Motion for Preliminary Injunction

JFS v. Trump

After the suspension on refugee resettlement ordered by President Trump expired on October 24, a new set of restrictions on refugees was immediately implemented. These include a minimum 90-day suspension of admission of refugees from 11 countries, nine of which are predominantly Muslim. The order also indefinitely suspends the follow-to-join process, which reunites spouses and children with refugees already in the United States.

On November 13, IRAP, along with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); Lauren Aguiar, Mollie M. Kornreich and Abigail Sheehan Davis; Perkins Coie; and HIAS, filed a complaint against these new restrictions on behalf of Jewish Family Service of Seattle and Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, as well as several individual plaintiffs harmed by the refugee ban. These include refugees in the final stages of their resettlement process who are now trapped in limbo, parents who are desperately trying to reunite with their displaced children, and a military supervisor hoping to save his Iraqi interpreter’s life.

The lawsuit charges that the order is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to suspend refugee admissions without authority and to target Muslims in violation of the Constitution.

View the press release: Groups File Class Action Challenge to Trump Administration’s Latest Refugee Ban

View the November 13, 2017 complaint: JFS v. Trump complaint

View the December 23, 2017 Preliminary Injunction: Order Granting Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Hamama v. Adducci

Hamama is a class action challenge in the Eastern District of Michigan that aims to afford Iraqi nationals facing removal with sufficient time to reopen their immigration cases, including to seek asylum and related relief on the basis that country conditions in Iraq have changed. The case was filed in June 2017 after ICE arrested hundreds of Iraqi nationals with removal orders from years ago, following Iraq’s agreement to repatriation of its nationals in exchange for being omitted from the Trump Administration’s second travel ban Executive Order.

The case does not provide individual immigration relief to Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal — Iraqi nationals facing removal, their families, and attorneys who are or want to be part of a national effort to help them should review the materials on IRAP’s resources page.

Darweesh v. Trump

Darweesh v. Trump was the first lawsuit filed in response to the travel ban Executive Order. The same day it was filed, a federal judge in New York blocked the unlawful deportation of refugees and other travelers who had valid documents to enter the United States.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Iraqi IRAP clients, who had been unjustly detained at JFK Airport for nearly 20 hours each and threatened with deportation. They were represented by IRAP, the ACLU, NILC, the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.

Through the lawsuit, the government was ordered to produce a list of individuals who were detained pursuant to the first Executive Order during a period immediately following the federal judge’s order. In the final settlement, the government agreed to reach out to every single person who was denied entry or deported under the first Executive Order and who had not yet reapplied for a visa or returned to the United States, inform them of their right to reapply for a visa, and provide them with a list of free legal services organizations that could help them do so.

View the press release: First Lawsuit Filed Challenging Trump’s Order Banning Refugees From the United States

View the January 28, 2017 complaint: Darweesh v Trump

View the New York Times story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/us/refugees-detained-at-us-airports-prompting-legal-challenges-to-trumps-immigration-order.html

Abdi v. Duke

In summer 2017, IRAP and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a class action challenge to the detention of asylum-seekers at Batavia, a federal immigration facility in upstate New York. These asylum-seekers had declared themselves at the border and has passed what is known as a “credible fear interview,” establishing that they have a significant likelihood of success on their asylum claims. Nevertheless, the government has continued to hold them in detention, summarily denying them the fair opportunity for parole and refusing to provide them with bond hearings within six months of detention.

On November 17, 2017, the district court issued a preliminary injunction ordering the government to give asylum-seekers in detention at Batavia access to fair parole procedures and to provide those detained for six months or more access to individualized bond hearings.

On February 9, 2018, the district court clarified the injunction to hold that immigration judges must take into account ability to pay and alternatives to money bond in setting release conditions at bond hearings.

View the press release: Court Orders Federal Immigration Jail in Buffalo to Offer Parole, Bond Hearings for Asylum-Seekers

View the September 25, 2017 complaint: Abdi v. Duke Complaint

View plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction: Abdi v. Duke Motion for PI

View the November 17, 2017 court decision:  Abdi v. Duke decision

View the February 9, 2018 decision: Decision and Order on Motion to Clarify Injunction

9 Iraqi Allies v. Kerry

In 2015, IRAP and co-counsel Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security on behalf of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis and Afghans, some of whom who had been waiting for over five years to receive Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) because of their service to the United States. The lawsuit, 9 Iraqi Allies Under Serious Threat Because of Their Faithful Service to the United States v. Kerry, alleged that the government failed to take timely action on the plaintiffs’ SIV applications, violating a law passed by Congress that SIV applications should be processed within nine months.

In January 2016, a federal judge in Washington D.C. ruled in favor of IRAP’s clients, stating that the government had a duty to decide the applications in a timely manner which it failed to do. As a result, the U.S. Government entered into an agreement with the plaintiffs to finally process the their SIV applications. All plaintiffs received a decision within 3 months pursuant to the agreement and thirteen of them and their families now live safely in the United States.