Tuesday, 22 October 2019

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C Civil Rights

Muslims file suit against White House travel order

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Muslim civil rights groups are lawyering up to defend those affected by President Trump travel order.

  • CAIR filed a lawsuit nationwide against travel order
  • CAIR-Florida held a rally in Orlando Tuesday
  • Citizens say they have been cut off from family members

“Regardless if it’s two hours, one week or years, this is offensive, insulting and it’s separating families," said Rasha Mubarak, the Regional Coordinator for Council on Islamic-American Relations-Florida.

The Muslim civil liberties and anti-defamation organization held a rally Tuesday at their Orlando office, bringing together government representatives and activists.

On Monday, CAIR filed a lawsuit nationally on behalf of more than 20 plaintiffs. Of the ban, the lawsuit reads in part:

"...Has been dubbed uniformly as the 'Muslim Ban' because its apparent and true purpose and underlying motive---which is to ban Muslims from certain Muslim-majority countries..."

Those at the rally said the travel ban was unethical and immoral, targeting Muslims and giving permission for Islamophobia and xenophobia.

"We have a very rigorous immigrant and refugee system in place. It's the safest and most screened in the world," said Mubarak. "Of the almost 750,000 immigrants and refugees that came into this country post-9/11, only two of them were tied to any terrorist charges."

"All marginalized groups stand with you, as you stand with us," said Ida Eskamani, taking to the podium."We're united in this fight for justice and equality."

Eskamani, a first generation Iranian-American, said that she has fond memories of her grandmother’s yearly visits to Orlando. But the 84-year-old lives in Iran.


Ida Eskamani says the travel order cuts her off from her Iranian grandmother, who is a visa holder. And as a result of Iran's new order banning U.S. citizens, Eskamani can't go to Iran to see her either. (Ida Eskamani)

“Right now she cannot come into the United States. She’s barred because she’s a visa holder," she said. “That punches you in the heart. As an Iranian-American, it makes me feel unwanted in this country. It’s just heart-wrenching.”

The 90-day ban affects citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The order also suspends refugee admissions for 120 days, indefinitely for Syrians.

“I’m weeping for the people who are not allowed to come back," said Zainab Merchant.

The daughter of a Somali refugee who fled to Pakistan, Merchant said her Shia Muslim family has faced undue hardships. The U.S. citizen was detained herself, along with her husband and children, twice in the past coming back to the U.S. from Canada.

“It’s very traumatic, especially when they take away your phone, they confiscate your keys for the car. You’re basically in a prison," she said. “All I kept thinking at that time was, 'I’m a U.S. citizen. They have to let me back in. This is my home.'"

The ban is now shelving the family's plans of returning to Iraq and Iran for a pilgrimage. The editor-in-chief of website Zainab Rights said that she wanted to show her three children their Islamic heritage.

“This is not the country my parents immigrated to. America is built on immigrants," said Eskamani.

Eskamani said that she was planning a trip this summer to visit her family in Iran, but worries she won't be able to go.

“Iran has reciprocated, which is to be expected, saying that no U.S. citizens can come to Iran. So now I am also barred as a U.S. citizen," she said. “President Trump ran on a campaign explicitly stating he would support a Muslim ban. This is a Muslim ban, does not matter how you paint it.”

Despite the executive order, 872 refugees will be allowed into the U.S. this week, according to a senior U.S. government official. Refugees will be granted waivers, in cases where they were ready to travel and keeping them from doing so would cause “undue hardship.”