In the chaos subsequent to the issuance of the Administration’s first Executive Order prohibiting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, January 27, 2017, thousands of people were illegally detained at United States airports, some in handcuffs, or deported. Led by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) – one of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees’ (MFA) Participating Organizations – an emergency legal stay was soon issued, prohibiting any further deportations. In March 2017, the lawsuit became moot, when a second Executive Order was issued. Notwithstanding, IRAP pressed its charges on behalf of all those who were illegally detained or deported initially. MFA filed an amicus brief, with interfaith organizations, on their behalf. That suit was settled on August 31.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the U.S. government is required to reach out to every single person who was denied entry or deported under the first Executive Order and who has not yet reapplied for a visa or returned to the United States. For these individuals, the government must provide a list of free immigration legal aid providers to assist them in the reapplication process. People who never reached an American airport because they were kept from boarding flights are not covered by the settlement.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument on the legal challenges to the second Executive Order on October 10.
MFA congratulates IRAP on its success and looks forward to complete victory – prohibiting discriminatory treatment of certain travelers and all refugees – later this year.