Important Updates:

October 10, 2017 – IABA and Iranian-American Organizations and Individuals Challenge Trump’s Travel Ban 3.0.Read more 

September 27, 2017 – Update on Travel Ban 3.0 and What You Can Do To HelpRead more 

September 25, 2017 – Trump administration issues a sweeping new proclamation, prohibiting nearly all travel for nationals of Iran and six other countries. Read more

July 24, 2017 – IABA, in collaboration with partners, issues Iranian-American Community Advisory: “Know Your Rights at the Airport and the Border” (English translation) (Persian translation) (Know Your Rights Pamphlet)

SAVE THE DATE – IABA Announces Dates for Its Fourth Annual National Conference for November 17 and 18, 2017 in the Washington DC area – Read more 

July 10, 2017 – Exclusive Guidance from IABA for Individuals with Visa-Related Issues under the “Travel Ban” Executive Order – Read more 

June 29, 2017 – IABA Update on the Travel Ban and Its Scope – Read more 

June 28, 2017 – IABA makes form available for anyone affected by the “Travel Ban” Executive Order. – Read more 

Click here for more information: http://endthetravelban.com/

View Lawsuit Documents Here

IABA Update on the Travel Ban and Its Scope

October 10, 2017

Dear members and friends,

On Monday, October 9, 2017, the Iranian American Bar Association and a joint coalition of Iranian-American organizations and individual Iranian-American Plaintiffs renewed their challenge President Trump’s newest iteration of his Travel Ban, and will seek to enjoin it before it goes into effect on October 18, 2017. A copy of the Amended Complaint can be found on the IABA website. A joint statement by the Iranian-American organizations, including IABA, Pars Equality, and PAAA, with more information follows:

October 10, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Aurora Matthews 301-221-7984.
LAWSUIT ARGUES TRUMP’S LATEST TRAVEL BAN CONTINUES TO TARGET IRANIAN-­AMERICANS, EXACERBATES HARM OF PREVIOUS BAN ORDERS.

Iranian-­American organizations and 13 individual plaintiffs file challenge to Travel Ban 3.0, ask for response before EO takes effect Oct 18.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 10, 2017) – A new court filing in federal court in Washington D.C. challenging President Trump’s latest iteration of the travel ban seeks to protect Iranian Americans in the United States and abroad. The lawsuit, filed by three prominent Iranian-American organizations as well as 13 individual plaintiffs, outlines the ways the policy is hurting families, professional and business opportunities, as well as the expansive Iranian-American community.
“The latest Presidential Proclamation on vetting capabilities is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As a permanent and more sweeping Travel Ban than its two predecessors it is even more egregious and will cause even more harm to Iranian American families and the contributions Iranian Americans make to the U.S. economy and society,” said Cyrus Mehri, founding partner of Washington, DC-based firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, who represents the plaintiffs. “I am very proud of our courageous individual clients and our dedicated organizational clients who continue to fight to protect the Iranian American community.”
The President’s September 24 Proclamation, among other things, indefinitely bans all immigrant and almost all nonimmigrant visas to Iranian nationals and bans all immigrant visas and many non-immigrant visas to the nationals of five other majority-Muslim nations. Based on State Department historical data, it is estimated that 60 percent of visas subject to the ban would have been issued to Iranian nationals. On October 5, the government — citing the September 24 Proclamation — asked that the injunctions currently in place be lifted, with no provisions to allow visas for individuals with bona fide relationships with entities or individuals in the United States. The September 24 Proclamation will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on October 18, 2017.
A motion to lift the stay along with an amended complaint detailing the unlawful harm to 13 individuals was filed in federal court before Judge Tonya S. Chutkan who in April conducted the only evidentiary hearing on Travel Ban 2.0 and who issued an order expressing concerns about the Travel Ban.

• The Complaint has compelling examples from 13 individuals. Among the plaintiffs are: Mohammed Jahanfar, whose fiancé is in Iran studying for her Master’s. Jahanfar, who served in the U.S. Navy and currently lives in California, is worried he and his fiancé will be unable to get married and live together. He says he joined the military in order to give back to his country, but never imagined the government would keep him from his loved ones.
• Reza Zoghi fled Iran with his family to escape violent persecution. He, along with his wife and three-year-old daughter, successfully completed the vetting process for resettlement, but they remain in indefinite limbo in Turkey, where he is unable to work and his daughter will be unable to enroll in school.
• Another plaintiff, who holds dual citizenship from the U.S. and Iran, is pregnant with her first child in New York City. With her husband working full time and no other close relatives nearby, her mother is trying to move from Iran to help care for her grandchild. But the process continues to be on hold.

The three organizations – Pars Equality Center, Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) and Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) – along with individual plaintiffs, now seek to lift the stay in this case and seek to enjoin Travel Ban 3.0.
Pars Equality Center, IABA and PAAIA, as well as the individual plaintiffs, filed this case on February 8 and amended it on March 15. The plaintiffs are represented by the civil rights law firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Tycko & Zavareei LLP, and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP.

The brief and declarations, along with other information can be found at www.endthetravelban.com.

Iranian American Bar Association

Babak Yousefzadeh
IABA National President

September 27, 2017

Dear members and friends,

As you are aware, on September 24, 2017, the Trump administration issued sweeping new travel restrictions, prohibiting nearly all travel for foreign nationals of Iran (and several other countries). The language of the new proclamation (Travel Ban 3.0) can be found here.  You can also find IABA’s summary of the key parts of the new travel ban here.

Given the new proclamation, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken off calendar the scheduled oral arguments in the Hawaii and IRAP cases, the two prior challenges to the Travel Ban 2.0, and requested supplemental briefing on whether parts of the issue are now moot. More legal challenges to the new Travel Ban 3.0 will undoubtedly follow.

Substantively, Travel Ban 3.0 continues to target primarily nationals of Muslim-majority countries. While the new proclamation includes two non-Muslim-majority countries (North Korea and Venezuela), these additions appear to be nominal at best, and make up only a tiny fraction of those subject to the travel ban. Based on available information, the vast majority of the individuals affected by Travel Ban 3.0 remain nationals of Muslim-majority countries; and nationals of Iran, alone, constitute over 60% of the total people affected. That is exactly why Iranian Americans must be on the front lines of this battle — and why we, as a community, we must inform ourselves, organize, and act.

Here are a few simple things can do to help now:

1.     If you know anyone affected by Travel Ban 3.0, please notify us immediately by clicking here and filling out this form, or emailing us at info@iaba.us;

2.     Please sign our joint petition to the U.S. Congress, requesting that it “Rescind the Muslim Ban Immediately.”  This petition has been prepared by a coalition of highly respected legal and advocacy groups, including Iranian American organizations. We need your help to spread word of this petition, and to gather as many signatures as possible, to show broad support for abolishing any travel ban based on national origin or religion;

3.     Share this statement, as well as the above form and petition, with your friends, families, and professional networks; and

4.     Donate to IABA so it can continue its efforts in protecting our rights (click here).

We will continue to update you as things change, and will also keep you informed of our ongoing efforts. Please stay tuned. And, more importantly, remain engaged.

Babak Yousefzadeh
IABA National President


Sep 25, 2017 – Trump Administration Issues A Sweeping New Proclamation, Prohibiting Nearly All Travel For Nationals of Iran and Six Other Countries

Dear members and friends,

Tonight, President Trump issued a new proclamation implementing his Travel Ban 3.0. The new Travel Ban identifies seven countries who are subject to sweeping new travel restrictions, without any apparent time limitations: Iran, Chad, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

As related to Iran, the new Travel Ban 3.0 suspends both immigrant and non-immigrant visas of all Iranian nationals, with minor exceptions for valid student and exchange visitor visas (though even such individuals will “be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements”). All immigrant and most non-immigrant visas to nationals of Chad, Libya, Somalia, Venezuela, and Yemen are also suspended; as are all immigrant and non-immigrant visas to nationals of Syria and North Korea, without exception. Iraq and Sudan have been removed from the list.

The new ban goes into effect, either immediately or on October 18, 2017, under a two tier system: (1) for foreign nationals who lack a “bona fide relationship” to a U.S. person or entity (e.g., family, businesses, or schools) as determined by recent case law, the new ban goes into effect today, September 24, 2017; and (2) for foreign nationals of Iran (and Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia), who have a credible claim of a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity, the ban goes into effect on October 18, 2017. That means that even Iranian nationals with a bona fide relationship to a family member or work relationship in the U.S. will be unable to come to the U.S. beginning October 18 (those with student visas appear to still be permitted).

In short, the new Travel Ban 3.0 — if left intact — will impose a near total and indefinite ban on immigrant and non-immigrant visas for Iranian nationals.

That said, there are a few limitations expressed in the new ban, which bear mention:

First, the new Travel Ban 3.0 will not apply to Iranian nationals who: (1) are inside the U.S. when it goes into effect, (2) have a valid visa on the relevant effective date; and (3) had a valid visa, which was suspended or cancelled under the Travel Ban 1.0, dated January 27, 2017.

Second, the new Travel Ban 3.0 does not apply to lawful permanent residents of the U.S. (green card holders), or dual nationals who are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country. It also does not apply to any foreign national: (1) who has a visa and other required document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, etc.) that is valid when the new ban goes into effect; or (2) who is already admitted as a refugee into, or has already been granted asylum by, the U.S. Nor will the new Travel Ban prohibit individuals from entering the U.S. on the basis of a credible claim of fear of persecution or torture.

Third, the new Travel Ban 3.0 purports to provide for “case-by-case” waivers, where: (1) denial of entry would cause undue hardship; (2) entry would not pose a threat to the national security of the U.S.; and (3) entry would be in the national interest. While the new Travel Ban 3.0 provides some examples of when this might happen — such as those previously admitted to the U.S. for work or study, or those who have built “significant contacts,” who are outside the U.S. when the new ban goes into effect; or those visiting immediate family in instances of “undue hardship” — it is unclear how these will apply.

Based on the above, it is clear that the Travel Ban 3.0, in effect, promises a near “total and complete ban” of Iranian nationals into the U.S. As always, IABA remains dedicated to protecting the rights of our community, and our families and friends. To that end, we will immediately: (1) explore and pursue potential legal challenges with coalition partners and counsel regarding this new ban; and (2) reach out to lawmakers and their staff to explore legislative options.

But, once again, we will need you to mobilize and help protect our community. As Iranian American attorneys, we remain the gatekeepers of our community’s rights, and the front lines of defense against any legal affront to those rights. And, again, we have been called on to rise to the challenge. In the past year, we have met that challenge head on every time needed, and we are needed to respond again. Here is what you can do to help:

1. First and foremost, if you know anyone affected by this Travel Ban 3.0, please notify us immediately by clicking here and filling out this form, or emailing us at info@iaba.us.

2. Engage community members who need help and direct them to IABA, and its online form;

3. Join or renew your membership with IABA (click here to join, and here to renew);

4. Donate to IABA so it can continue its efforts in protecting our rights (click here);

5. Answer calls for volunteering, meetings, translating, legal help, advocacy, etc.; and

6. Share this statement with your friends, families, and professional networks.

The situation will change rapidly. Please stay tuned and remain engaged.

Babak Yousefzadeh
IABA National President


 

June 29, 2017

Dear Members and Friends,

We recently provided you an update about the U.S. Supreme Court permitting parts of the “Travel Ban” Executive Order to proceed. You can find that summary here. In short, the Court found that the Travel Ban may not be used to prohibit visa applicants and refugees with “a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity” (i.e. a “close” familial or business tie to the U.S.), but may otherwise prohibit nationals of Iran (and 5 other countries) without such ties to the U.S.

Yesterday, the Associated Press and Reuters both reported on new guidelines that have been sent to U.S. embassies and consulates, defining what a “close” familial relationship is. According to the reported guidelines, “close” family:

  • Includes: parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling in the U.S.
  • Does not include: grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-or-sisters-in-law, fiancées or other extended family members.

 

This interpretation of “close” family is quite narrow, and even appears to disregard broader examples offered by the Supreme Court, itself. It is unclear what rationale there is to separate grandparents and grandchildren, or fiancées, in the name of national security. This narrow interpretation has already drawn condemnation for separating families, including from the largest Iranian American organizations, such as IABA, NIAC, PAAIA, and Pars Equality (see here).

The Travel Ban goes into effect today, June 29, 2017. There have been conflicting reports as to exactly what time, ranging from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (likely depending on the airport).

IABA has created a form to help track information about individuals affected by the Travel Ban, and to offer assistance as possible. The form is currently available. It can be filled out anonymously to provide us with information; or contact information can be provided if an individual needs help. The form is available here.

Please help us by sharing this information (and the IABA form) with your friends, family, and professional networks, as widely as possible. The more we know, the more we can help.

And, as always you can also help by:

  1. Joining or renewing your membership with IABA (click here to join, and here to renew);
  2. Donating to IABA so it can continue its efforts (click here);
  3. Answering calls to volunteer for translating, legal help, attendance at airports, etc. You can reach us at iaba@iaba.us; and
  4. Engaging community members who need help and directing them to IABA as needed.

Stay vigilant. Stay engaged. And stay tuned. Things can change quickly.

Babak Yousefzadeh
Iranian American Bar Association
National President

IABA Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling On The Travel Ban

June 26, 2017

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the Trump Administration’s “Travel Ban” Executive Order. In so doing, the Supreme Court: (1) accepted review of the prior Fourth and Ninth Circuit opinions, which broadly stayed the Travel Ban; and (2) agreed to continue staying part of the Travel Ban, while allowing other parts of it to proceed forward, pending a decision on the merits in Fall 2017.

In its decision, the Supreme Court held that the Travel Ban: (1) cannot be enforced against any foreign nationals who can credibly show a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” but (2) can be enforced against other foreign nationals from the six listed countries (i.e. those with no ties to the U.S.).

More specifically, the Supreme Court held that the Travel Ban cannot prohibit foreign nationals of Iran (or five other countries) if they can credibly show:
• A close familial relationship to a person in the U.S. (examples from the Court went beyond the “family nucleus” to in-laws and other possible extended family); or
• A formal and documented relationship with a U.S. entity, formed in the ordinary course (e.g., students admitted to university, workers with employment at a U.S. company, a lecturer invited to address a U.S. audience, etc.).

Notably, the Supreme Court applied the same standard to refugees who are foreign nationals of the six identified countries: i.e. they may not enter the U.S. unless they can show a “bona fide” relationship with a U.S. person or entity. If they can make this showing, the Travel Ban cannot prohibit their entry, even if it exceeds the new 50,000 “cap” that the Travel Ban imposes.

The Supreme Court warned that a “bon fide” relationship may not be manufactured for purposes of evading the Travel Ban – e.g., a non-profit creating a work or other relationship for the sole purpose of bringing an otherwise prohibited foreign national to the U.S.

The Court’s order will go into effect on Thursday, June 29, 2017, and will remain in place until at least until October 2017, pending final resolution of this case on its merits.

While this decision was not entirely unexpected, it is extremely disappointing, in that it permits the Trump Administration to implement parts of a self-recognized Travel Ban, despite repeated statements expressing discriminatory intent based on nationality and religion. The Supreme Court decision also leaves ambiguity about its implementation. For example, it is unclear exactly what a “bona fide relationship” means (e.g., whether the quality or type of the relationship matters, which members of an extended family qualify, etc.). Such ambiguity is dangerous, and can permit arbitrary application. It also remains unclear whether and to what extent the Trump Administration will seek to apply “back door” immigration policies to implement its stated ban.

IABA expects that this ruling will lead to additional confusion and travel-related complications among our community members. So it is critical that our members know their rights, and have access to organizations capable of helping them. To that end, the IABA, through its website, will continue to: (1) disseminate information about member rights, (2) collect information and data from community members (and other individuals) who are affected by the Travel Ban; and (3) connect our members affected by this ban to attorneys capable of helping. All of this information will be available on: http://iaba.us/iaba-immigration-updates. If you know of anyone affected by the Travel Ban, please have them reach out to us, or visit our website.

As we have repeatedly said in prior communications, the issues surrounding the Travel Ban are not going away. However, we have – again and again – been able to secure victories though through the courts. As attorneys, it continues to fall on us to protect the community from the effects of this discriminatory ban, and other hostile legal policies. Please help us with those efforts by:

1. Joining or renewing your membership with IABA (click here to join, and here to renew);
2. Donating to IABA so it can continue its efforts (click here);
3. Answering calls and volunteering for translating, legal help, attendance at airports, etc.
4. Engaging the community members who need help and directing them to IABA as appropriate;
5. Answering calls to volunteer time for translating, legal help, at airports, etc.
6. Sharing this statement and related information with your friends, families, and professional networks.
7. Calling and writing your local, state, and federal representatives;

Babak Yousefzadeh
Iranian American Bar Association
National President


For Anyone Affected by the “Travel Ban” Executive Order

The Iranian American Bar Association is collecting information for individuals affected by the Travel Ban (Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” signed by Donald J. Trump on March 6, 2017). The purpose of this database is to provide collect information to help us protect community rights, to provide assistance to the individuals who may be targeted, and for use for future legal actions. Information can be provided anonymously if desired.

Please use the link to access the form.

You can email us: Info@Iabadc.com


 

With eight chapters in various metropolitan cities across the country, the Iranian American Bar Association (“IABA”) is one of the most prominent minority bar associations in the United States. IABA chapters hold networking events, publish articles on key legal developments, and provide outreach to lawyers and law students. IABA also provides an annual scholarship to law students looking for assistance and provides lawyer mentors for those seeking guidance. IABA also helps serve the Iranian-American community and the community at-large by providing legal advocacy on important issues.
Become part of one of the most important Iranian- American organizations. Join IABA!