The ACLU of Northern California filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of three students at California universities who have been living here legally with F-1 student visas who are now barred from traveling because of President Trump's January 27 executive order, and in one case trapped outside the country. Announced via the ACLU's site, the lawsuit seeks to establish the three plaintiffs as a class, "representing all people who are nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen and who currently are, or recently have been, lawfully present in California and who would be able to travel to the United States or leave and return to the United States if it were not for the Executive Order." And the ACLU is asking the court to find the executive order unconstitutional, and have it invalidated.
Joining the suit as an institutional plaintiff is Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay (JFCS East Bay), which provides legal services and resettlement help to refugees.
The suit argues that the executive order is clearly a pretext for establishing a permanent preference based on religion when it comes to the issuing of visas or accepting of refugees. And, "As such, the government’s actions violate the First Amendment, the equal-protection and due process rights granted under the Fifth Amendment, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act."
“The federal government has made it clear that it intends to favor Christian immigrants over Muslims in making decisions about who to detain, interrogate, deport, or entirely refuse entry,” says Julia Mass, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, in the release. “We are a diverse society. American Muslims, immigrants and U.S.-born alike, are part of the fabric of this nation.”
The three student plaintiffs are:
Hadil Al-Mowafak... a Stanford University freshman with an F-1 student visa who is now unable to travel to visit her husband in Yemen because of President Trump’s Executive Order. Plaintiff Wasim Ghaleb is a Yemeni student at Grossmont College in San Diego, California. He travelled to Saudi Arabia on January 15 to visit his family, fully intending to fly back to California two weeks later for the Spring semester. Though he possesses an F-1 student visa, he is now barred from returning. Plaintiff John Doe is from Iran and is currently a Ph.D candidate at University of California, Berkeley. He possesses a valid F-1 student visa and recently received and accepted a job offer at a top Fortune 50 Company in Silicon Valley, which is now in jeopardy because of the Executive Order.
The suit is Al-Mowafak v. Trump, and just a day after its filing we learned via another court proceeding in Virginia related to the travel ban that the US government has revoked at least 60,000 visas as a result of the executive order, though a lawyer representing the federal government first stated that the figure was 100,000.