Americans United And Allies File First Lawsuit Against Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0

Late Monday night, Americans United joined allies in filing the first lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0.

Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump challenges Trump’s latest travel ban that was issued Sept. 24, just as the previous ban was set to expire. Muslim Ban 3.0 indefinitely extended the ban against nationals from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, and also expanded the ban to include the Muslim-majority country of Chad.

North Korea and certain Venezuelan government officials and their families were also added to this version. The addition of a minuscule number of travelers from these non-Muslim majority countries is simply a distraction – this is still the Muslim ban that Trump has promised since his Dec. 2015 call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

The new lawsuit filed by AU, Muslim Advocates and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP explains that the new Muslim ban is still un-American and unconstitutional because it singles out people for disfavor because of their religion.

“This is the third time that President Trump has tried to implement the Muslim ban, and it's still designed to exclude people because of their religious beliefs. The only thing that's really different here is that the Trump administration is now trying to make this appalling ban permanent,” said AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee. “Religious freedom is about fairness. When we treat one group of people unfairly because of their religious beliefs, that's a threat to the religious freedom of all Americans.”

It is unconstitutional and un-American to single out Muslims for disfavor based on their religion.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), a nonprofit that serves the Iranian diaspora community, and six individuals, all of whom are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents with Iranian relatives who will be blocked from coming to the United States when Muslim Ban 3.0 goes fully into effect on Oct. 18.

The lawsuit explains that “[d]espite President Trump’s attempts to cloak this latest iteration of his Muslim ban in religiously neutral garb by invoking a national security review and including North Korea and Venezuela, the purpose and effect of the Proclamation remain unchanged: to keep Muslims from entering the United States.” By doing so, the president’s latest Muslim ban “betrays our nation’s most central principles and forsakes our common heritage as a country founded in part on the principle of freedom from religious persecution.”

AU has been fighting Trump’s Muslim ban since he issued the first version in January. We joined Muslim Advocates and the Southern Poverty Law Center in filing an earlier lawsuit, Universal Muslim Association of America v. Trump, challenging Muslim Ban 2.0. And we’ve filed friend-of-the-court briefs in multiple cases, including a brief in September with the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project and Trump v. State of Hawaiʻi.

Days after we filed our Supreme Court brief, Trump issued Muslim Ban 3.0 and the high court temporarily canceled the Oct. 10 argument that had been scheduled in those Muslim ban cases. The government and the plaintiffs were asked to explain to the court by Oct. 5 whether the cases should proceed in light of Trump’s revised travel ban.

If and when the high court rules on the Muslim ban, Americans United hopes that the justices will be on the right side of history and find that the Muslim ban is an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom.

To learn more, join AU’s legal fellows at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 4, for a Facebook Live “Ask Americans United: Supreme Court Edition.” We’ll answer your questions about our work fighting the Muslim ban, and we’ll also field general questions about the Supreme Court and about Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, another case with major religious freedom implications that’s on the high court’s docket this fall. You can send your questions to askau@au.org, or submit them to us through Facebook or Twitter.