13 Legal Actions Challenging Trump's Immigration Executive Order

All the lawsuits filed so far that challenge his immigration executive order.

ByABC News
February 1, 2017, 6:24 AM

— -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week to suspend some immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya — for 90 days, halt the refugee program for 120 days and suspend the admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Since he signed the order Friday, at least 13 lawsuits have been filed around the country, including one from Washington state. Attorneys general in Virginia, Massachusetts and New York announced on Monday their intentions to intervene in existing federal suits filed over the past weekend in their states.

Here are the lawsuits filed as of Tuesday that challenge the executive order, naming Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, the border patrol and others as defendants. The Trump administration has denied that the order targets Muslims and that it is a ban.

Lawsuits Filed Tuesday


Dr. Amer al-Homssi, 24, a medical resident at the University of Illinois at Chicago/Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, has been stuck in Dubai since trying to board a Chicago-bound flight on Sunday, according to his complaint. A Syrian citizen who has legal residency in the United Arab Emirates, he was taken by U.S. preclearance security officers to secondary screening at Abu Dhabi International Airport, where officers canceled his valid J-1 U.S. visa, citing the executive order. According to the complaint, the officers told al-Homssi there was nothing that could be done except to wait 90 days and then follow up with the U.S. Embassy. He risks losing his residency status in the UAE if he is not able to return to the U.S. to complete his medical residency. In that case, the complaint says, he may be forced to return to war-torn Syria, where he has never lived and which he hasn't visited since he was 17 years old.


Two Christian brothers, Basam Asali and Hassan Asali, and their families say they were detained at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday by Customs and Border Protection agents while trying to enter U.S. from Syria on lawful permanent resident visas (their brother Ghassan Asali is an American citizen). They claim they were given two options: Return to Syria immediately or go to jail, their lawyer, Joseph Hohenstein said. He added that they were not given interpreters, that there was no investigation into their case and that they were simply asked if they were from Syria. They were returned to Syria and are now in Damascus, he told ABC News.


Zakaria Hagig — a Muslim Libyan student at the Community College of Denver who says in court papers he is a lawful resident and U.S. taxpayer — filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Denver claiming that the order violates his religious and due process rights. In court papers, he says he "has a constitutional right to travel to Libya in the event of a family emergency or other need and return to the United States to continue his studies and work and not be banned from re-entry without justification and due process protections."


A writ of habeas corpus was filed on behalf of Labeeb Ibrahim Issa, who was allegedly "held against his will — in extreme pain in his wheelchair" by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to court documents. He was reportedly released after a 15-hour detention. The lawsuit says he worked for the U.S. Army in Iraq as a driver and performed general maintenance. In 2016 he was badly injured in a car accident in Iraq after being targeted because of his work for the Army, the lawsuit says. He was granted a special immigrant visa after demonstrating "that he had experienced or was experiencing an ongoing serious threat due to his employment with the U.S. government," according to court papers. "Mr. Issa landed in Dallas hoping to find safety and freedom — perhaps only a small token of thanks from our country in exchange for his extreme sacrifice for our country in its war efforts in his home country" but was instead put through a terrible ordeal.

Lawsuits Filed Monday

Washington state

Washington is the only state to file a lawsuit against the executive order so far. The state's attorney general, Robert Ferguson, brought a case on behalf of the state against Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, DHS Secretary John Kelly, acting Secretary of State Tom Shannon and the U.S. to "protect the state — including its residents, its employers and its educational institutions — against illegal actions of the president and the federal government." The complaint alleges that the executive order is "separating Washington families, harming thousands of Washington residents, damaging Washington's economy, hurting Washington-based companies and undermining Washington's sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees." Ferguson said that if the suit is successful, the order will be deemed unconstitutional nationwide, and he has asked for a temporary restraining order to immediately stop all action pursuant to it. Amazon and Expedia filed declarations in the lawsuit describing the detrimental impact on their operations and employees. Ferguson asked the court to schedule a hearing within 14 days.


Unnamed John Doe, an Iranian citizen and a legal permanent resident of the U.S. who lives in Chicago with his family, claims he went to Iran earlier this month to be with his ailing mother and was planning on returning to the U.S. in early February. He wasn't, however, permitted to purchase a plane ticket for his return, he says. According to The Chicago Tribune, the judge assigned to the case, U.S. District Judge Samuel DerYeghiayan, is an Armenian, was born in Aleppo in Syria and was the first Armenian immigrant to become a federal judge in the U.S.


Under the Council in American-Islamic Relations' banner, Muslim Americans from around the country filed a constitutional challenge to the executive order, which they said "implements an impermissible religious gerrymander that divides foreign nationals, even those lawfully present inside the United States, into favored and disfavored groups based on their faith." The suit accused the president of enacting a policy "that overtly discriminates against Muslims and officially broadcasts a message that the federal government disfavors the religion of Islam." Some of the plaintiffs said the order would force them to return to their home countries, where, the lawsuit says, "they will likely face persecution, torture and even execution simply because they are Muslim." The lawsuit quotes Trump's campaign rhetoric and calls the executive order "the legal manifestation of those bigoted views."


The American Immigration Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild filed a nationwide class action in the District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have filed visa petitions for their immediate family members who are nationals of the seven countries. The applicants have all gone through a long and rigorous application and screening process and are seeking to be reunited with their families in the U.S., the lawsuit claims. "Since issuance of the executive order, immigrants have been unjustly blocked from entering the United States at airports all across the country. Now federal government officials are blocking more family members before they even board their planes and suspending or revoking all other visa applications," according to the filing.

"Plaintiffs include Reema Dahman, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, who had filed a petition to bring her 16-year-old son, stranded in war-torn Syria, to the United States. The two have not seen each other since 2012. They are at the last stage of processing, waiting only for an immigrant visa interview to be scheduled. But the executive order has suspended immigrant visa interviews, putting safety and security further out of the boy's reach and further delaying the boy's reunification with his mother," according to a press release from the plaintiffs.

"Plaintiff Juweiya Ali's 6-year-old Somali son is also in limbo. Ms. Ali, a U.S. citizen, began the process to bring him to the United States from Somalia in August 2016. But they too now are left to worry that the visa process will remain suspended indefinitely," the press release says.

Lawsuits Filed Over the Weekend

Courts ordered emergency stays in all the following cases. These are temporary orders that prevent Customs and Border Protection, a division of the DHS, from sending back people in detention who had made it to the U.S. or were en route to the U.S. when the executive order was signed. These judges did not rule on the underlying legality or constitutionality of the executive order.

Brooklyn, New York

Two men from Iraq, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, were detained overnight Saturday at JFK Airport. New York Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez appeared at the airport on Saturday to try to get the two men released, revealing that there were actually 12 people detained, including the two Iraqis. New York District Court Judge Ann Donnelly issued a nationwide emergency stay that prevents detainees from being sent back.


Two Iranian nationals — who are associate professors at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and Muslims — were allegedly detained at Boston's Logan Airport on Saturday after returning home from an academic conference. Judge Allison Burroughs granted a seven-day restraining order and ordered the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint. Unlike the New York order, this one does not apply nationally.

Dulles Airport, Virginia

Fifty to 60 lawful permanent residents of the United States allegedly were detained at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, and their lawyers claimed they were denied access to counsel. Judge Leonie Brinkema granted the plaintiffs' motion and issued a seven-day restraining order granting detainees at Dulles International Airport access to counsel and prohibiting their deportation. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on Monday, clarifying the class as "individuals with legal permanent resident status or who are traveling on valid U.S. immigrant visas who have been or will be either detained and/or coerced into signing a Form I-407," which documents relinquishing legal permanent residency.


Saturday, two plaintiffs arrived at Sea-Tac Airport and were scheduled to be flown to Dubai. They were represented by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which filed an emergency petition for writ of habeas corpus and a motion for a temporary restraining order. The same day, Judge Thomas Zilly granted stay of deportation and enjoined the defendants from deporting the plaintiffs prior to further court orders.


A federal judge in California on Sunday granted a temporary restraining order preventing the U.S. government from deporting Ali Khoshbakhti Vayeghan, an Iranian man with a valid U.S. visa who filed a lawsuit Saturday. But before the court issued the ruling, he had already been put back on a plane to Dubai to be removed to Iran. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered that U.S. authorities bring Vayeghan back to the U.S. and to not stand in the way of admitting him to the country under the terms of his previously approved visa.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky and Lucien Bruggeman contributed to this report.

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