• January 30, 2017

The following is a guest-post by Mikael Merissa:

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

– Maya Angelou

Consistent with his campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the United States until we “can figure out what’s going on,” President Trump issued an executive order on Friday temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries -Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia. No matter that those countries have not produced a single person linked to terrorism in the United States according the Cato Institute, or that Saudi Arabia (home to 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers) was not included, perhaps because of Trump’s business interests there. And never mind that no class of immigrants on Earth are more stringently vetted than refugees. Or that Trump’s action will likely inspire generations of terrorists. A promise is a promise.

But in addition to being bad policy, the order is illegal. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin. Trump’s executive order has also resulted in the violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process and equal protection. On Saturday night, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly ruled in favor of a habeas corpus petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday after Trump signed his order. Judge Donnelly held that absent a “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.” Three courts have since issued orders similar rulings.

But in the meantime, real people have been hurt by this malicious and ill-conceived order. 109 people were reportedly detained when their flights touched down in the United States, including an eighteen-month-old and an Iraqi translator who risked his life to help American soldiers during the war in Iraq.

Until all of this shakes out, this Minnesota immigration lawyer has three pieces of advice for Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), commonly known as green-card holders:

(1) Adjust your status to that of U.S. citizen. Don’t wait, apply today.

(2) Cancel any plans to travel outside the United States.

(3) Don’t commit any crimes! If you’ve had a few too many (which is understandable in these times) call a taxi (or an Uber, or another ride-sharing service).

For green-card holders and U.S. citizens alike, we can do the following:

(1) Financially support organization that advocate for civil and immigrant rights like the ACLU, the ACLU of Minnesota, https://www.aclu-mn.org/get-involved/supportus/donate/, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, https://www.ilcm.org/, or the Advocates for Human Rights, http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/.

These organizations do the heavy lifting when it comes to the vast majority of litigation in this area. They are always underfunded and the need is always great.

(2) Make your voice heard. Protest these hateful policies.

(3) Above all, refuse to be afraid. Everyone, regardless of party affiliation, should contact their elected representatives and demand that they take a stand against these dangerous, un-American actions. As then-Governor Mike Pence tweeted before the election, “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.” Indeed. Too bad Mike Pence didn’t heed Maya Angelou’s advice.

(Previous Minnesota Litigator posts by Mr. Merissa are linked here).

Need to contact Mikael? Call him: (612) 349-5288.

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