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International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 18, 2017

INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ASSISTANCE PROJECT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity as President of the United States, et al., Defendants. IRANIAN ALLIANCES ACROSS BS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity as President of the United States, et al., Defendants. EBLAL ZAKZOK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity as President of the United States, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         For the third time this year, President Donald J. Trump has issued an order banning the entry into the United States, with some exceptions, of nationals of multiple predominantly Muslim nations. At issue is whether this latest travel ban should be enjoined by this Court because it is the latest incarnation of the “Muslim ban” originally promised by President Trump as a candidate for the presidency, and thus violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or because the issuance of the travel ban exceeds the President's delegated authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to suspend the entry into the United States of classes of immigrants and nonimmigrants. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that a preliminary injunction is warranted.

         INTRODUCTION

         On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13, 769, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (“EO-1”), 82 Fed. Reg. 8977 (Jan. 27, 2017), which barred the entry into the United States of nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries for a 90-day period. On February 7, 2017, Plaintiffs International Refugee Assistance Project (“IRAP”), HIAS, Inc., and seven individuals (collectively, “the IRAP Plaintiffs”), filed a Complaint in this Court alleging that EO-1 violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. I; the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. V; the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101-1537 (2012); the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb to 2000bb-4 (2012); the Refugee Act, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1521-1524 (2012); and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706 (2012).

         On March 6, 2017, after EO-1 was enjoined by other federal courts, President Trump issued Executive Order 13, 780 (“EO-2”), which bears the same title as EO-1 and was scheduled to go into effect and supplant EO-1 on March 16, 2017. 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (Mar. 9, 2017). Section 2(c) of EO-2 suspended for 90 days the entry into the United States of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. On March 10, 2017, the IRAP Plaintiffs amended their Complaint to seek the invalidation of EO-2, alleging the same causes of action pleaded in their original Complaint. The IRAP Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of EO-2, on Establishment Clause and INA grounds. On March 15, 2017, this Court enjoined enforcement of Section 2(c) after finding that the IRAP Plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claim that EO-2 violated the Establishment Clause. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump (“IRAP”), 241 F.Supp.3d 539 (D. Md. 2017). This Court's Order was then appealed to and in substantial part affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump (“IRAP”), 857 F.3d 554 (4th Cir. 2017). In light of the expiration of EO-2, the Fourth Circuit's judgment has since been vacated as moot by the United States Supreme Court. Trump v. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project, No. 16-1436, 2017 WL 4518553 (Oct. 10, 2017).

         On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9645, entitled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats” (“Proclamation”), which will bar indefinitely the entry into the United States of some or all nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. 82 Fed. Reg. 45161 (Sept. 27, 2017).

         On October 3, 2017, Iranian Alliances Across Borders (“IAAB”) and Doe Plaintiffs 1-6 (collectively, the “IAAB Plaintiffs”) filed a Complaint in this Court asserting that the Proclamation violates the INA, the Establishment Clause, the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, and the equal protection and procedural due process components of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. On October 5, 2017, the IRAP Plaintiffs, now consisting of IRAP, HIAS, Middle East Studies Association (“MESA”), Arab-American Association of New York (“AAANY”), Yemeni-American Merchants Association (“YAMA”), John Does No. 1 and 3-5, Jane Doe No. 2, Muhammed Meteab, Mohamad Mashta, Grannaz Amirjamshidi, Fakhri Ziaolhagh, Shapour Shirani, and Afsaneh Khazaeli, filed a Second Amended Complaint in which they repeated their prior causes of action and extended them to the Proclamation, added a second claim under the INA alleging that the Proclamation exceeded the President's statutory authority, and added a claim that the Proclamation violated the procedural due process protections of the Fifth Amendment. On October 6, 2017, in a separate case, Eblal Zakzok, Sumaya Hamadmad, Fahed Muqbil, John Doe No. 1, and Jane Does No. 2-3 (collectively, “the Zakzok Plaintiffs”) filed a Complaint stating causes of action under the Establishment Clause, the INA, and the APA. On October 12, 2017, the IAAB Plaintiffs amended their Complaint to add the Iranian Students' Foundation (“ISF”), an affiliate of IAAB at the University of Maryland College Park, as a Plaintiff. The IAAB Plaintiffs subsequently filed a Motion for Leave, which the Court has since granted, seeking to file declarations from representatives of ISF in support of the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.

         Each of these three separate cases name some or all of the following as Defendants: President Trump; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the U.S. Department of State; Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security; Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State; Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence; Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III, Attorney General; Kevin K. McAleenan, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; James McCament, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. All of the Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief.

         On October 6, 2017, the IRAP Plaintiffs filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction in which they ask this Court to enjoin the Proclamation in its entirety before it takes effect. The IAAB and Zakzok Plaintiffs have also each filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and have joined in the arguments of the IRAP Plaintiffs. Defendants filed a consolidated brief in opposition to the Motions on October 12, 2017, and Plaintiffs filed separate reply briefs on October 14, 2017. The Court held a hearing on the Motion on October 16, 2017. With the matter fully briefed and argued, the Court now issues its findings of fact and conclusions of law.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         I. Public Statements

         On December 7, 2015, then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump posted a “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration” on his campaign website in which he “call[ed] for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what is going on.” Joint Record (“J.R.”) 85. Trump promoted the Statement on Twitter that same day, stating that he had “[j]ust put out a very important policy statement on the extraordinary influx of hatred & danger coming into our country. We must be vigilant!” J.R. 209. In a March 9, 2016 interview with CNN, Trump stated his belief that “Islam hates us, ” and that the United States had “allowed this propaganda to spread all through the country that [Islam] is a religion of peace.” J.R. 255-57. Then, in a March 22, 2016 Fox Business interview, Trump reiterated his call for a ban on Muslim immigration, asserting that his call for the ban had gotten “tremendous support” and that “we're having problems with the Muslims, and we're having problems with Muslims coming into the country.” J.R. 261.

         In a May 11, 2016 appearance on On the Record, Trump stated that he would ask former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to lead a group to “look at the Muslim ban or temporary ban, ” that there “has to be something, ” and that he had “[g]reat Muslim friends who are telling me you are so right. … [T]here is something going on that we have to get to the bottom of.” J.R. 513. In a June 13, 2016 speech, Trump stated that “[w]e have to control the amount of future immigration into this country to prevent large pockets of radicalization from forming inside America, ” noting that “[e]ach year, the United States permanently admits more than 100, 000 immigrants from the Middle East, and many more from Muslim countries outside the Middle East.” J.R. 528.

         In a July 24, 2016 interview on Meet the Press soon after he accepted the Republican nomination, Trump was asked about the “Muslim ban.” J.R. 219. Trump responded that immigration should be “immediately suspended” “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place.” J.R. 219. When questioned whether this formulation was a “rollback” of his December 2015 call for a “Muslim ban, ” Trump disagreed, stating “I don't think it's a rollback. In fact, you could say it's an expansion. I'm looking now at territories.” J.R. 220. He explained that “[p]eople were so upset when I used the word Muslim, ” so he was instead “talking territory instead of Muslim.” Id. During the October 9, 2016 Presidential Debate, when asked by the moderator about his proposed “Muslim ban, ” he explained that the “Muslim ban” had “morphed into an extreme vetting from certain areas of the world.” J.R. 591.

         On December 21, 2016, when asked whether a recent attack in Germany affected his proposed Muslim ban, President-Elect Trump replied, “You know my plans. All along, I've proven to be right. 100% correct.” J.R. 245. In a written statement about the events, he lamented the attack on people “prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday” by “ISIS and other Islamic terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.” J.R. 245.

         II. Executive Order 13, 769

         On January 27, 2017, a week after his inauguration, President Trump issued EO-1 in which, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f), the President suspended for 90 days the entry into the United States of immigrant and nonimmigrants who were nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, based on his finding that such entry was “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” EO-1 § 3(c). Each of these countries has a predominantly Muslim population, including Iraq, Iran, and Yemen, which are more than 99 percent Muslim. The provision allowed for exceptions on a “case-by-case basis” when such an exception was “in the national interest.” EO-1 § 3(g). EO-1 also required changes to the refugee screening process “to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality.” EO-1 § 5(b). It further provided that during this 90-day period, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence (“DNI”), was to initiate a review process beginning with “a review to determine the information needed from any country” to assess whether an individual from that country applying for a “visa, admission, or other benefit . . . is not a security or public-safety threat, ” the generation of a list of countries that do not provide adequate information of this nature, and a consultation process to request such information from those countries. EO-1 § 3(a)-(d). At the end of this review process, the Secretary of Homeland Security was required to “submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit entry of foreign nationals . . . from countries that do not provide the information requested.” EO-1 § 3(e).

         When preparing to sign EO-1, President Trump remarked, “This is the ‘Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.' We all know what that means.” J.R. 142. That same day, President Trump stated in an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network that EO-1 would give preference in refugee applications to Christians. Referring to Syria, President Trump stated that “[i]f you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible, ” a situation that he thought was “very, very unfair.” J.R. 201. The day after EO-1 was issued, President Trump assured reporters that implementation of EO-1 was “working out very nicely and we're going to have a very, very strict ban.” J.R. 123. That same day, Mayor Giuliani appeared on Fox News and asserted that President Trump told him he wanted a Muslim ban and asked Giuliani to “[s]how me the right way to do it legally.” J.R. 247. Giuliani, in consultation with others, proposed that the action be “focused on, instead of religion . . . the areas of the world that create danger for us, ” specifically “places where there are [sic] substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.” J.R. 247-248.

         EO-1 prompted several legal challenges, including an action filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington based on the Due Process, Establishment, and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution that resulted in a nationwide temporary restraining order (“TRO”) issued on February 3, 2017 against several sections of EO-1. See, e.g., Washington v. Trump, C17-0141JLR, 2017 WL 462040 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 3, 2017). On February 9, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, construing the order as a preliminary injunction, upheld the entry of the injunction. Washington v. Trump, 847 F.3d 1151, 1165-66 (9th Cir. 2017). Although it did not reach the Establishment Clause claim, the Ninth Circuit noted that the asserted claim raised “serious allegations” and presented “significant constitutional questions.” Id. at 1168. On February 13, 2017, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found a likelihood of success on the merits of an Establishment Clause claim and issued an injunction against enforcement of Section 3(c) of EO-1 as to Virginia residents or students enrolled a Virginia state educational institution. Aziz v. Trump, 234 F.Supp.3d 724, 739 (E.D. Va. 2017).

         In response to the injunctions against EO-1, President Trump maintained at a February 16, 2017 news conference that EO-1 was lawful but that a new Order would be issued. J.R. 91. Stephen Miller, Senior Policy Advisor to the President, described the changes being made to the Order as “mostly minor technical differences, ” emphasizing that the “basic policies are still going to be in effect.” J.R. 319. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that “[t]he principles of the [second] executive order remain the same” and described EO-1 as a legal exercise of the President's power “to suspend immigration.” J.R. 78, 118. As of February 12, 2017, Trump's Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration remained on his campaign website. J.R. 207.

         III. Executive Order 13, 780

         On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued EO-2, which was scheduled to go into effect and supplant EO-1 on March 16, 2017. Section 2(c) of EO-2 reiterated the 90-day ban on entry into the United States of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, but removed Iraq from the list. EO-2 applied only to individuals outside the United States who did not have a valid visa as of the issuance of EO-1 and who had not obtained one prior to the effective date of EO-2. In addition, the travel ban expressly exempted lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”), dual citizens traveling under a passport issued by a country not on the banned list, asylees, and refugees already admitted to the United States, and it provided a list of specific scenarios under which a case-by-case waiver could be granted.

         To justify its restrictions on entry by nationals of the listed countries, EO-2 stated that “the conditions in these countries present heightened threats” because each country is “a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones.” EO-2 § 1(d) (citing information from the State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2015). EO-2 stated that, as a result, the governments of the listed countries were less willing or able to provide necessary information for the visa or refugee vetting process, such that there was a heightened chance that individuals from these countries would be “terrorist operatives or sympathizers.” EO-2 § 1(d). EO-2 therefore concluded that the risk of admitting individuals from these countries was “unacceptably high” because the United States was unable “to rely on normal decision-making procedures” about their travel. EO-2 § 1(b)(ii), (f). EO-2 disavowed that EO-1 was motivated by religious animus.

         EO-2 also stated that “Since 2001, hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States” and referenced two Iraqi refugees who were convicted of terrorism-related offenses and a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the United States from Somalia as a child refugee and had been convicted of a plot to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. EO-2 § 1(h). It did not identify any instances of individuals who came from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen engaging in terrorist activity in the United States.

         Like EO-1, EO-2 instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the DNI, to conduct a worldwide review to determine whether additional information from foreign governments was needed to enable the United States to determine whether a foreign national applying for a visa or for admission was a security or public safety threat. The Secretary of Homeland Security was then required to submit a report within 20 days providing the results of the review, including listing countries that do not provide adequate information and identifying the needed information. The Secretary of State was then required to request that the listed countries begin providing the needed information within 50 days. At the end of the 50-day period, the Secretary of Homeland Security was to “submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion in a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit entry of appropriate categories of foreign nationals of countries that have not provided the information requested until they do so or until the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies that the country has an adequate plan to do so, or has adequately shared information through other means.” EO-2 § 2(f). The Secretary of Homeland Security could also identify other countries for other restrictions or limitations that would be appropriate.

         The same day that EO-2 was issued, Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions, III and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly submitted a letter to the President recommending a temporary suspension on the entry to the United States of nationals of certain countries so as to facilitate a review of security risks in the immigration system. Upon the issuance of EO-2, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described it as “a vital measure for strengthening our national security.” J.R. 115. In a March 7, 2017 interview, Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly stated that the Order was not a Muslim ban but instead was focused on countries with “questionable vetting procedures, ” but noted that there were 13 or 14 countries with questionable vetting procedures, “not all of them Muslim countries and not all of them in the Middle East.” J.R. 150. Other White House officials, noting that EO-2's provisions were temporary, stated that the ban might be extended past 90 days and to additional countries. J.R. 116.

         IV. Litigation on EO-2

         On March 10, 2017, the IRAP Plaintiffs amended their Complaint to seek the invalidation of EO-2, alleging the same causes of action pleaded in their original Complaint. The IRAP Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of EO-2, on Establishment Clause and INA grounds. On March 15, 2017, this Court enjoined enforcement of Section 2(c) after finding that the IRAP Plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claim that EO-2 violated the Establishment Clause. IRAP, 241 F.Supp.3d at 566. The same day, the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii issued a TRO, later converted to a preliminary injunction, barring enforcement of Sections 2 and 6 of EO-2. Hawaii v. Trump, 241 F.Supp.3d 1119, 1140 (D. Haw. 2017).

         This Court's Order was appealed to and in substantial part affirmed by the Fourth Circuit on May 25, 2017. IRAP, 857 F.3d 554, 606 (4th Cir. 2017) (en banc). In so ruling, the Fourth Circuit described EO-2 as one that “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” Id. at 572. After finding that an individual plaintiff had standing to challenge the ban and concluding that upon a showing of bad faith it could “look behind” a proffered “facially legitimate” reason for the action, the court applied standard Establishment Clause analysis to conclude that because EO-2 “cannot be divorced from the cohesive narrative linking it to the animus that inspired it . . . the reasonable observer would likely conclude that [EO-2's] primary purpose is to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs.” IRAP, 857 F.3d at 586, 590-92, 601.

         Meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in substantial part the preliminary injunction ordered by the District of Hawaii on the grounds that EO-2 exceeded the President's authority under the INA, primarily in that it did not contain a sufficient finding of detrimental interest as required by the statute and that it violated the INA's prohibition on nationality-based discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas. Hawaii v. Trump, 859 F.3d 741, 774, 779 (9th Cir. 2017). The Government sought review of both the Fourth Circuit and Ninth Circuit decisions by the United States Supreme Court, which consolidated the cases for argument. Trump v. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project and Trump v. Hawaii, 137 S.Ct. 2080, 2086 (2017) (granting writ of certiorari). Pending resolution of those appeals, the Supreme Court declined the Government's request to stay the injunctions of EO-2 in their entirety, but ordered a partial stay of the injunctions to permit their enforcement against only foreign nationals who lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or organization within the United States. Id. at 2087.

         In light of the expiration of EO-2, the Supreme Court requested supplemental briefing on whether the case relating to EO-2 is now moot. Trump v. IRAP, No. 16-1436, 2017 WL 2405595 (Sept. 25, 2017). On October 10, 2017, after that supplemental briefing, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Fourth Circuit with instructions to dismiss as moot the challenge to EO-2. The Supreme Court expressed no opinion on the merits.[1] Trump v. IRAP, No. 16-1436, 2017 WL 4518553 (Oct. 10, 2017).

         V. Public Statements Since EO-2

         At a March 16, 2017 rally, President Trump reported to the audience that EO-2 had been enjoined and described it as a “watered down version of the first one” that had been “tailor[ed]” by lawyers in response to prior legal challenges. J.R. 652-53. He emphasized that “we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.” J.R. 653.

         On May 21, 2017, President Trump delivered a speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Arab and Muslim leaders as part of the Arab Islamic American Summit. Speaking as “a representative of the American people” delivering “a message of friendship and hope, ” he decried terrorism, but cautioned that “the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them, ” but instead “have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves.” President Trump's full speech from Saudi Arabia on global terrorism, Wash. Post (May 21, 2017), https://goo.gl/viJRg2. They had to “honestly confront” the “crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” Id.

         In a June 3, 2017 tweet, President Trump emphasized the “need to be smart vigilant and tough, ” and asserted, “We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” J.R. 662. In a series of tweets on June 5, 2017 referencing the court decisions relating to EO-1 and EO-2, President Trump stated, “[t]he lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” J.R. 664. He reiterated that “[t]he Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to [the Supreme Court], ” and advised the Justice Department to “ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!” Id. The following day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that President Trump's tweets should be “considered official statements by the president of the United States.” J.R. 667.

         In an August 17, 2017 tweet, Trump endorsed what appears to be an apocryphal story involving General John J. Pershing and a purported massacre of Muslims with bullets dipped in a pig's blood, advising people to “[s]tudy what General Pershing … did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” J.R. 679. In a September 15, 2017 tweet, President Trump again insisted that “the travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” J.R. 705.

         VI. Presidential Proclamation 9645

         On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9645, which immediately supplanted EO-2 as to foreign nationals who lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or organization within the United States, and which is slated to go into effect on October 18, 2017 for all other individuals covered by its terms. The Proclamation stated that in a July 9, 2017 report issued pursuant to the requirements of EO-2, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the DNI, had selected baseline criteria for assessing the sufficiency of the information provided by foreign governments to permit the United States to confirm the identities of individuals seeking to enter the country and make a security assessment about them.

         Three categories of information were identified. The first is “identity-management information, ” consisting of information necessary to confirm that individuals are who they claim to be. Criteria for assessing the sufficiency of information provided include whether a foreign government employs electronic passports embedded with data on the holder's identity, reports lost or stolen passports, and provides other identity-related information not contained in passports. The second category is “national security and public-safety information, ” relating to whether individuals seeking to enter the United States pose a national security or public safety risk, the criteria for which include whether a foreign government provides information on known or suspected terrorists and individuals' criminal histories, shares exemplars of its passports and national identity documents, or impedes the transfer of information about passengers and crew traveling to the United States. The third category is “national security and public-safety risk assessment, ” relating to risk indicators about the country itself, the criteria for which include whether the country is a known or potential terrorist safe haven, whether it is a participant in the Visa Waiver Program, and whether it regularly refuses to accept its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States.

         According to the Proclamation, pursuant to the process set forth in EO-2, nearly 200 countries were evaluated based on these criteria. Of those, 16 nations were found to be “inadequate” and 31 were found to be at risk of becoming so. In accordance with Section 2(d) of EO-2, those nations were given 50 days to bring their information-sharing practices into compliance with United States expectations. At the end of that 50-day period, eight countries were determined to have continued inadequate information-sharing practices: Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. In a September 15, 2017 report to the President (“the DHS Report”), the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security recommended that entry restrictions be imposed on all of those countries with the exception of Iraq. Although Somalia's information-sharing practices were found to be adequate, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security recommended that Somalia also be subjected to entry restrictions.

         As a result, the Proclamation states that “absent the measures set forth in this proclamation, the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States” of nationals from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen (the “Designated Countries”) “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” Procl. pmbl. Specifically, the Proclamation suspends the entry of all immigrants from seven of the eight Designated Countries, excepting only Venezuela. The ban on entry by nonimmigrants is “more tailored, ” with a narrower ban imposed on countries with mitigating circumstances such as a willingness to play a substantial role in combatting terrorism. Procl. § 1(h)(iii).

         As to specific countries previously subject to EO-2's travel ban, the Proclamation suspends entirely the entry of Iranian nationals on both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, with an exception for individuals traveling on nonimmigrant, student (“F” and “M”) and exchange visitor (“J”) visas. However, Iranians traveling on F, M, and J visas are to be subjected to enhanced screening and vetting. As justification, the Proclamation asserts that Iran is a source of significant terrorist threats and a designated state sponsor of terrorism, and that it fails adequately to cooperate with the United States to identify security risks, has at least one unspecified national security risk factor, and refuses to accept its nationals slated for deportation.

         The Proclamation suspends entry of all Libyan nationals as immigrants, as well as entry of nonimmigrants using business (“B-1”), tourist (“B-2”), or business/tourist (“B-1/B-2”) visas. These restrictions are based on the conclusions that Libya does not provide adequate public safety or terrorism-related information, has deficiencies in its identity-management protocols, has at least one unspecified national security risk factor, and does not reliably accept its nationals slated for deportation.

         The entry of nationals from Somalia traveling on immigrant visas is suspended entirely, and adjudications for all nonimmigrant visas are to be subjected to additional scrutiny. According to the Proclamation, these restrictions are justified by the facts that the United States does not recognize the Somali electronic passport, Somalia has been designated a terrorist safe haven, and large parts of Somalia are outside the control of the central government such that its ability to share information about criminal and terrorist risks is compromised.

         Regarding Syria, the Proclamation suspends entirely the entry of all Syrian nationals, both immigrants and nonimmigrants, on the basis that Syria does not cooperate with the United States in identifying security risks, is a source of significant terrorist threats and has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism, does not provide adequate public safety or terrorism-related information, has deficiencies in its identity-management protocols, and has at least one unspecified national security risk factor.

         The Proclamation suspends entirely the entry of Yemeni nationals as immigrants, as well as entry of Yemeni nonimmigrants traveling under B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 nonimmigrant visas. As justification, the Proclamation notes that Yemen does not provide adequate public safety or terrorism-related information, has deficiencies in its identity-management protocols, has at least one national security risk factor, and has a terrorist presence.

         As for countries identified for the first time in the Proclamation, entry of Chad nationals as immigrants is suspended entirely, as is entry of nonimmigrants using B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2 visas. In support of this determination, the Proclamation asserts that Chad fails to provide adequate public safety and terrorism-related information, and that the nation has at least one unspecified national security risk factor.

         All entry of North Korean visa holders, immigrant or nonimmigrant, is entirely suspended, because North Korea has reportedly failed in any way to cooperate or engage in information sharing with the United States.

         Venezuela is the only designated country for which entry of immigrants is not suspended. Limitations on the entry of Venezuelan nationals are confined to barring entry of specific government officials and their immediate family members, who are suspended from traveling to the United States on B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas. All other Venezuelan nationals are to be subjected to enhanced screening and vetting procedures but are not otherwise banned from entry. The Proclamation reasons that although Venezuela fails to provide adequate terrorism-related or public safety information, has at least one unspecified national security risk factor, and does not reliably receive its nationals slated for deportation, there are other, unspecified sources available for verifying the identities of Venezuelan nationals.

         These suspensions apply to foreign nationals of the Designated Countries who (1) are outside the United States on the applicable effective date of the Proclamation; (2) do not have a valid visa as of the applicable effective date of the Proclamation; and (3) are not among those entitled to receive a new visa or other travel document because their visas were revoked or canceled pursuant to EO-1. Excepted from the suspensions are a number of other individuals, including LPRs; dual nationals if traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country; and foreign nationals who have been granted asylum status or who have been already admitted to the United States as refugees.

         In addition to these delineated exceptions, the Proclamation provides for waivers, to be granted on a case-by-case basis by either a State Department consular officer or an official of United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), based on criteria to be developed by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Any waiver granted by a consular officer would allow both the issuance of a visa and subsequent entry to the United States on that visa. The Proclamation expressly provides that waivers may be granted only upon a showing that (1) denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship, (2) allowing entry would not pose a national security or public safety threat, and (3) entry would be in the national interest.

         The Proclamation charges the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to devise a process for determining whether the suspensions should be continued, terminated, modified, or supplemented. At 180-day intervals, the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the DNI, and any other appropriate agency heads, is to submit a report and recommendations to the President on whether any such changes should be made, including whether similar suspensions should be imposed on additional countries. In addition, the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consulting with these same officials, may recommend modifications to the list of suspended countries at any time.

         As noted, the Proclamation is already in effect as to foreign nationals currently barred by EO-2. For all other covered foreign nationals, it becomes effective on October 18, 2017.

         In a joint declaration, 49 former national security, foreign policy, and intelligence officials who served in the White House, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Senate, and as ambassadors in Republican and Democratic Administrations, some of whom were aware of the available intelligence relating to potential terrorist threats to the United States as of January 19, 2017, state that “[a]s a national security measure, ” the Proclamation is “unnecessary” and is of “unprecedented scope.” J.R. 770. Excluding North Korea and Venezuela, the Proclamation blocks over 150 million people from entering the United States on the basis of their nationality, despite the fact that “concrete evidence” has shown that “country-based bans are ineffective.” J.R. 771. The officials note that the Proclamation has internal inconsistencies, such as its uneven application to nonimmigrant visas, which are the most frequently used visas from the banned nations, and its failure to block individuals from non-Muslim majority countries with “widely-documented” problems with information sharing, such as Belgium. J.R. 773. On this score, the officials note that no terrorist acts have been committed on U.S. soil by nationals of the Designated Countries in the last 40 years, and that no intelligence as of January 19, 2017 suggested any such potential threat. Nor, the former officials assert, is there any rationale for the abrupt shift from individualized vetting to group bans, particularly in light of the fact that the present system of individualized vetting places the burden of proving identity and eligibility for travel on the person seeking a visa.

         VII. The Plaintiffs

         Plaintiffs, a combination of 23 individuals (“the Individual Plaintiffs”) and seven organizations (“the Organizational Plaintiffs”), assert that they will suffer harm from the implementation of the Proclamation in the form of prolonged separation of family members located in the Designated Countries and stigmatizing injuries arising from the anti-Muslim animus of the travel ban. Of the Individual Plaintiffs, nine are U.S. citizens or LPRs who have an approved visa petition on behalf of an Iranian-national parent, child, or sibling, consisting of IRAP Plaintiffs John Doe No. 4, Shapour Shirani, Fakhri Ziaolhagh, and Afsaneh Khazaeli; and IAAB Doe Plaintiffs Nos. 1-5. Two Plaintiffs, IAAB Doe Plaintiff No. 6 and Grannaz Amirjamshidi seek nonimmigrant visas for their Iranian-national mother or mother-in-law to visit the United States. Four Plaintiffs are U.S. citizens or LPRs with an approved visa petition for their Syrian-national family members, consisting of Mohamad Mashta, [2] IRAP Plaintiff Jane Doe No. 2, and Zakzok Plaintiffs Jane Does No. 1-2. Zakzok Plaintiff Eblal Zakzok, an LPR, has submitted an immigrant visa petition for his Syrian-national daughter but it has not been approved, and Zakzok Plaintiff Sumaya Hamadmad has a sister, a Syrian national, who has applied for a nonimmigrant visa to visit the United States for an academic project. IRAP Plaintiffs John Doe No. 5 and Fahed Muqbil are U.S. citizens who have approved immigrant visa petitions for their Yemeni-national wife and mother, respectively. Zakzok Plaintiff Jane Doe No. 3 is a U.S. citizen who has a pending immigrant visa petition for her Somali fiancée. Three of the Individual Plaintiffs, specifically Mohammed Meteab, and IRAP John Does Nos. 1 and 3, are LPRs of Iranian or Iraqi descent who do not have immediate family members from one of the Designated Countries seeking an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa.

         Of the Organizational Plaintiffs, three primarily provide services to clients. IRAP provides legal services to its clients, displaced persons around the world seeking to come to the United States, to help them navigate the refugee or immigrant application process. HIAS provides a variety of services to refugees, including assisting their clients with refugee resettlement in the United States. AAANY primarily serves the Arab-American and Arab immigrant community in New York City by providing legal and other services to its clients.

         The remaining Organizational Plaintiffs convene events on issues relating to the Middle East or advocate on behalf of their members. MESA consists of over 2, 400 graduate students and faculty around the world focused on the field of Middle Eastern studies. YAMA, a membership organization of Yemeni American merchants, seeks to protect its members from harassment and to assist them with immigration issues. IAAB organizes youth camps, educational events, and international conferences for the Iranian diaspora, including inviting prominent scholars from outside the country to speak at events. ISF is an affiliate of IAAB and organizes events and fundraisers for its members, approximately 30 Iranian American students at the University of Maryland. Additional facts relating to certain Organizational Plaintiffs are contained in the Court's discussion of standing. See infra part I.A.

         CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         In this Motion, Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction based on their claims that the Proclamation violates (1) the Immigration and Nationality Act, (2) the Establishment Clause, and (3) the Equal Protection Clause.

         I. Justiciability

         Defendants raise several arguments that Plaintiffs' claims are not justiciable. Specifically, they assert that Plaintiffs lack standing, the claims are not ripe, the claims are barred by the doctrine of consular nonreviewability, and the statutory claims are not reviewable under the APA.

         A. Standing

         Article III of the Constitution limits the judicial power of the federal courts to actual “Cases” or “Controversies.” U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. To invoke this power, a litigant must have standing. Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S.Ct. 2652, 2661 (2013). A plaintiff establishes standing by demonstrating (1) a “concrete and particularized” injury that is “actual or imminent, ” (2) “fairly traceable to the challenged conduct, ” (3) and “likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.” Id.; Covenant Media of S.C., LLC v. City of N. Charleston, 493 F.3d 421, 428 (4th Cir. 2007). For claims involving a statutory cause of action, a plaintiff must also have interests that fall within the “zone of interests protected by the law invoked.” Lexmark Int'l, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1377, 1388 (2014). Standing must be established for each claim. DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 352 (2006). The presence of one plaintiff with standing renders a claim justiciable. Bostic v. Schaefer, 760 F.3d 352, 370-71 (4th Cir. 2014).

         1. Immigration and Nationality Act

         The various Individual Plaintiffs assert standing based on the allegation that they are harmed by the prolonged separation from close family members who are unable to travel to the United States under the terms of the Proclamation. The Supreme Court has reviewed the merits of cases brought by U.S. residents with a specific interest in the entry of a foreigner challenging the application of the immigration laws to that foreign individual. See Kerry v. Din, 135 S.Ct. 2128, 2131, 2138-42 (2015) (considering an action brought by a U.S. citizen challenging the denial of her husband's visa); Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 756, 762-65 (1972) (considering the merits of a claim brought by American plaintiffs challenging the denial of a visa to a Belgian journalist whom they had invited to speak in various academic forums in the United States); see also Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 88-89 (1998) (stating that because standing relates to a court's power to hear and adjudicate a case, it is normally “considered a threshold question that must be resolved in [the litigant's] favor before proceeding to the merits”); Abourezk v. Reagan, 785 F.2d 1043, 1050 (D.C. Cir. 1986) (“Presumably, had the Court harbored doubts concerning federal court subject matter jurisdiction in Mandel, it would have raised the issue on its own motion.”). Other courts have done the same. See Bustamante v. Mukasey, 531 F.3d 1059, 1062 (9th Cir. 2008) (considering an action by a United States citizen ...


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