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:

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 detention and 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 revealed a list of hundreds of individuals that had been detained or deported over the course of several days, directly contradicting the President’s statement that about 100 people had been “inconvenienced.” 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.

View the complaint: Darweesh v Trump

View the press release: https://refugeerights.org/press-release-first-lawsuit-filed-challenging-trumps-order-banning-refugees-from-the-united-states/

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

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.

View the complaint: IRAP_v_Trump_Complaint

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

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 complaint: JFS v. Trump complaint

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

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.