This afternoon, Americans United and our allies will have our first opportunity to go before a judge in UMAA v. Trump – the federal lawsuit we filed against President Donald J. Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0.
U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in Washington, D.C., will hear our request to put the ban on Muslim immigrants and visitors on hold nationwide while our case proceeds. Although federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii have already stopped the ban from being implemented thus far, a nationwide injunction in our case would ensure that the American Muslim community won’t be harmed regardless of what happens in the other lawsuits.
Americans United, Muslim Advocates, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer filed UMAA v. Trump last month. We argue that Trump’s second executive order, which bars immigrants and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and imposes extreme vetting on Iraqi nationals, is the Muslim ban that Trump promised while campaigning for president and that he tried to implement with his first executive order, which was blocked by the federal courts.
Trump’s Muslim ban is unconstitutional and un-American because it discriminates against Muslims based solely on their religion. It’s a stark example of the government showing disfavor for one particular religion – a clear violation of the First Amendment’s promise of religious freedom and neutrality.
UMAA v. Trump offers a unique perspective on how Trump’s ban harms the Muslim community. UMAA, one of the plaintiffs, is the Universal Muslim Association of America – the largest organization of Shi’a Muslims in the United States. Shi’a Islam is uniquely affected by the Muslim ban because nearly all of its religious leaders live in Iran, Iraq and Syria. Since Iranian and Syrian nationals are banned by Trump’s order and Iraqis are subject to extreme vetting, UMAA’s members are cut off from worshiping and studying with their religious scholars.
The lawsuit also presents the harrowing circumstances of a Yemeni family granted asylum in the U.S. whose two young children are still stranded overseas. The Muslim ban prevents these children from coming to the U.S. – keeping them separated from their parents and at risk of returning to war-torn Yemen.
“This lawsuit proves that President Trump’s Muslim ban isn’t just unconstitutional, it’s also cruel,” AU Executive Director Barry Lynn said. “It divides families and keeps children from their parents, for no reason other than bias and prejudice against members of the Muslim faith.”
President Trump’s Muslim ban is unconstitutional and un-American because it discriminates against Muslims.
This afternoon, AU and our allies will present to Judge Chutkan how UMAA and its members, the Yemeni family and others will face immediate harm if the Muslim ban is implemented.
During the same hearing, the judge will also hear arguments in a related case: Pars Equality Center v. Trump, which was originally filed in response to Trump’s first Muslim ban. AU had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Pars Equality, an organization that advocates for the Iranian-American community. The case since has been amended to address Trump’s second Muslim ban.
Even as our case proceeds, AU remains involved in other lawsuits challenging the second Muslim ban. Today we were joined by the Southern Poverty Law Center; Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; seven Christian faith leaders from Colorado, Florida, Minnesota and New York; and The Riverside Church in New York City in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in State of Hawaiʻi v. Trump. The clergy members note in the brief, “As Christian leaders, we are obligated to lead in matters of faith and to defend our freedom of religion from governmental intrusion. Among other concerns, the Executive Order risks being misunderstood as representing our faith, furthering the inaccurate and harmful narrative that America is a ‘Christian Nation’ – a message that we strongly reject.”
State of Hawaiʻi v. Trump is the case in which U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson blocked Muslim Ban 2.0 just hours before it was to go into effect. The government has appealed Judge Watson’s decision and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hear arguments on May 15.
On Wednesday, we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump. We were joined by the Southern Poverty Law Center; Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; five Christian faith leaders from Colorado, Minnesota and New York; and The Riverside Church in New York City. In this case, U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in Maryland joined Judge Watson in blocking Muslim Ban 2.0 from going into effect nationwide. The government has appealed Judge Chuang’s decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to hear arguments on May 8.
Americans United will continue to fight against Trump’s Muslim ban, which betrays American values and violates the Constitution by treating members of one faith – Muslims – as second-class citizens unworthy of the religious freedom and equal treatment guaranteed to all citizens. Learn more about our work combatting the ban and Islamophobia here.