News & Resources

Press Release: First Lawsuit Filed Challenging Trump’s Order Banning Refugees From the United States

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

January 28, 2017


Henrike Dessaules



(New York, NY) – Today, the nation’s leading civil rights groups filed the first legal challenge to the Trump Administration’s executive order banning refugees from certain countries from entering the United States. The complaint was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York on behalf of two Iraqi men who worked with US armed forces in Iraq and were approved for resettlement in the United States earlier this month. They are now being denied entry and detained at JFK airport.

Becca Heller, IRAP’s Director, said: “In 24 hours, America went from telling persecuted refugees from around the world to get on a plane and seek safety here, to putting them in jail. The Administration’s apparent policy of detaining all arriving refugees upon their arrival to the U.S. is illegal, immoral, dangerous and un-American.”

The case is being brought on behalf of Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi husband and father of three, and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, an Iraqi husband and father, who landed at JFK airport on the evening of January 27, 2017. Darweesh was granted a Special Immigrant Visa (“SIV”) on January 20, 2017 as a result of his service to the United States as an interpreter, engineer and contractor. Alshawi was granted a Follow to Join Visa on January 11, 2017 to rejoin his wife and son, who were granted refugee status due to their family’s association with the United States military. After conducting standard procedures of administrative processing and security checks, the federal government determined that neither pose threats to the United States. Despite these findings and our clients’ valid entry documents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has detained them at JFK Airport.

The complaint can be viewed at: Darweesh v Trump

International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center