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Pingree Signs on to Amicus Brief Challenging Trump’s Travel Ban

Washington, DC, February 17, 2017

This afternoon, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree signed on to an amicus brief filed in Eastern District of New York in the case of Darweesh v. Trump, which challenges President Trump’s executive order banning refugees and individuals from Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. Pingree, who has been a vocal opponent of Trump’s travel ban, signed on to the amicus brief spearheaded by Senator Coons of Delaware and Congresswoman Lofgren of California.
 
Congresswoman Pingree released the following statement:
“Despite the 9th Circuit court’s unanimous decision finding that his travel ban on Muslims and refugees violates the First Amendment, President Trump is determined to push some type of ban through another executive order.” 
 
Discriminating against an entire group of people based on their religion goes against everything America stands for. It does not make our country safer; rather, it has fueled ISIS’s recruiting efforts and threatened relationships with our Muslim allies in the fight against terrorism.  His travel ban has torn families in Maine apart and unfairly targeted immigrants and refugees who live and work peacefully in Maine. I will continue to fight President Trump’s unconstitutional travel ban in the halls of Congress and in my community.”
 
Background on Darweesh v. Trump:
Plaintiff Hameed Khalid Darweesh was granted a Special Immigrant Visa as a result of his service to the United States as an interpreter, engineer, and contractor; Plaintiff Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi was granted a Follow to Join Visa to rejoin his wife and son, who were granted refugee status due to their family’s association with the United States military.  When the Executive Order issued on January 27, both were detained at JFK Airport upon arrival in the U.S.  The ACLU, a Yale Law School clinic, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and the National Immigration Law Center are representing Plaintiffs in this class-action lawsuit challenging the President’s Executive Order.  The New York Attorney General’s Office has intervened in the case, and other amicus briefs are being filed (including a brief submitted by 17 universities, led by Columbia and Cornell; and a brief by the Anti-Defamation League).
 
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York while detained at JFK and moved for a stay of their removal, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated.  On January 28, 2017, the District Court granted the emergency stay, holding that plaintiffs had “a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal . . . violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”  The Court further found that there was “imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order.”  Briefing continues on the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims.
 
The congressional amicus states that “[t]he best way to protect the security of the nation, to uphold foundational American values, and to safeguard our democracy is to respect the Constitution’s fundamental protections and the laws passed by Congress.” 
 
The brief makes the following key arguments:

  • The Executive Order’s discrimination on the basis of religion cannot be squared with the Constitution’s text and history, including the religion clauses enshrined in the First Amendment;
  • The Executive Order’s discrimination on the basis of nationality is inconsistent with the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act:
  • The Executive Order violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause because the Order’s broad restrictions based on nationality are not rationally related to a legitimate government interest – and in fact, the Order is counterproductive for national security;
  • By discriminating on the basis of nationality, the Executive Order runs afoul of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.

As the amicus brief states, the Order “is vastly overbroad—targeting both individuals and countries in a way that does nothing to further the Order’s stated purpose of ‘protect[ing] the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.’. . . The upshot is that the Order does exactly the opposite of what it intends—undermining, rather than enhancing, the nation’s security.”

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