Muslim leaders to file lawsuit against Donald Trump’s refugee ban

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the purpose of banning refugees was to 'ban people of the Islamic faith'

Rachael Revesz
New York
Saturday 28 January 2017 02:17
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Mr Trump first promised to ban Muslims in December 2015. He got his wish just 13 months later
Mr Trump first promised to ban Muslims in December 2015. He got his wish just 13 months later

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is planning on filing a lawsuit to challenge Donald Trump’s ban on Muslim refugees.

Mr Trump’s executive order, signed on the same day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, requested that the Department of Homeland Security imposes a 120-day blanket ban on all refugees coming from seven Muslim-Majority countries.

Syrian refugees would be banned "indefinitely", but Christian applicants would be given top priority.

CAIR’s lawsuit is aimed to "challenge the constitutionality of the order which very clearly is designed to target Muslims", Lena Masri, CAIR’s national litigation director, told The Independent.

Full details of the lawsuit will be revealed on Monday.

Ms Masri said there are more than 20 Muslims behind the lawsuit and they started to prepare the case as soon as the executive order was signed.

"The American Muslim community has been the target of discriminatory policies for many years now," she said. “Generally speaking at this time the Muslim community is being attacked by this order. It’s important for Americans to stand together and rise together.”

There are around 3.3 million American Muslims in the US, just 1 per cent of a national population of more than 320 million.

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The US accepted more than 38,000 Muslim immigrants in 2016, the highest number since 2002, according to the Pew Research Centre, but has taken in relatively low number of Syrian refugees - around 12,500 - last year compared to other countries.

Mr Trump said on Friday that the US "didn't want them here", meaning radical terrorists, but his blanket ban is applied to all those attempting to flee violence, civil war and persecution.

CAIR will file its lawsuit in the US District Court of the Western District of Virginia on Monday.

"There is no evidence that refugees, the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation, are a threat to national security," Ms Masri said in a statement released by CAIR.

"This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality."

“Our First Amendment is under attack. We, as attorneys, are foot soldiers of the American Constitution and took an oath to protect all from being targeted by the government because of their faith,” said lawyer Shereef Akeel, who is also co-counsel on the lawsuit.

CAIR held an emergency rally this week when it was revealed Mr Trump would sign the executive order.

“See you in court,” they had promised at a rally in Washington Square in New York.

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