International Refugee Assistance Project et al v. Trump et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Theodore D. Chuang on 10/17/2017. (kns, Deputy Clerk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
ASSISTANCE PROJECT, et al.,
Civil Action No. TDC-17-0361
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity
as President of the United States, et al.,
IRANIAN ALLIANCES ACROSS
BORDERS, et al.,
Civil Action No. TDC-17-2921
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity
as President of the United States, et al.,
EBLAL ZAKZOK, et al.,
Civil Action No. TDC-17-2969
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity
as President of the United States, et al.,
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.
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
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.
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 EO1 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.
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
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.
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
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).
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
Because the judgment of the Fourth Circuit has been vacated as moot, it has been “strip[ped]
of its binding effect.” Deakins v. Monaghan, 484 U.S. 193, 200 (1988). Accordingly, this Court
does not rely on the Fourth Circuit’s opinion as controlling authority and will review all legal
questions decided by the Fourth Circuit anew, without reliance on that Court’s prior decision.
However, as confirmed at the hearing on the Motions, the parties agree that the Court may cite
the Fourth Circuit opinion as persuasive authority, so this Court does so on a limited basis.
go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.” J.R.
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.
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.”
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 terrorismrelated 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 “widelydocumented” 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.
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
At the time the IRAP Amended Complaint was filed, Plaintiff Mohamad Mashta had an
approved I-130 visa petition for his Syrian-national wife and was awaiting a visa for her. At the
hearing, counsel informed the Court that Mashta’s wife had been granted a visa and that she is on
her way to the United States, which appears to render his claim moot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 challenging the denial of her husband’s visa and holding that the citizen had a
procedural due process right to a “limited judicial inquiry regarding the reason for the decision”);
Allende v. Shultz, 845 F.2d 1111, 1114 & n.4 (1st Cir. 1988) (evaluating the merits of a claim
brought by scholars and leaders who extended invitations to a foreign national challenging the
denial of her visa).
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has found that
U.S. citizens and residents have standing to challenge the denial of visas to individuals in whose
entry to the United States they have an interest. See Abourezk, 785 F.2d at 1050 (finding that
U.S. citizens and residents had standing to challenge the denial of visas to foreigners whom they
had invited to “attend meetings or address audiences” in the United States); Legal Assistance for
Vietnamese Asylum Seekers v. Dep’t of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, 45 F.3d 469, 471
(D.C. Cir. 1995), vacated on other grounds, 519 U.S. 1 (1996) (“LAVAS”). In LAVAS, the
court held that U.S. resident sponsors had standing to assert that the State Department’s failure to
process visa applications of Vietnamese citizens in Hong Kong violated one of the same
provisions at issue here, 8 U.S.C. § 1152, based on the cognizable injury of prolonged
“separation of immediate family members” resulting from the State Department’s inaction. Id. at
471. And in a related case, the Ninth Circuit held that an individual plaintiff had standing to
challenge EO-2 where the plaintiff’s mother-in-law was a Syrian national with a pending
immigration visa application, because the “prolonged separation” from her constituted a
sufficient injury-in-fact. Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 763.
Here, several Individual Plaintiffs, specifically IRAP Plaintiffs John Doe No. 4, John Doe
No. 5, Jane Doe No. 2, Shapour Shirani, and Fakhri Ziaolhagh; IAAB Plaintiffs Doe Plaintiff
No. 1, Doe Plaintiff No. 3, Doe Plaintiff No. 4, and Doe Plaintiff. No. 5; and Zakzok Plaintiffs
Eblal Zakzok, John Doe No. 1, and Jane Doe No. 2 have standing to assert their claims that the
Proclamation violates the INA. Each of these Plaintiffs are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent
residents who have immediate family members who are nationals of the Designated Countries
and currently in the process of securing a visa to come to the United States as immigrants. As
one illustrative example, John Doe No. 4 is a U.S. citizen whose wife is an Iranian national
seeking an immigrant visa to join him in the United States. Other Plaintiffs, including IRAP
Plaintiff Grannaz Amirjamshidi, IAAB Plaintiff Doe Plaintiff No. 6, and Zakzok Plaintiff
Sumaya Hamadmad have standing as U.S. citizens who are separated from close family
members who are nationals of Designated Countries seeking nonimmigrant visas to travel to the
The Proclamation’s indefinite ban on the issuance of immigrant and
nonimmigrant visas for nationals of the Designated Countries has imposed an actual, imminent
injury on these Plaintiffs by prolonging their separation from their family members. See LAVAS,
45 F.3d at 471; Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 763. Because a “threat” of an injury that is “real and
immediate” can support standing, Friends of the Earth, Inc. v Gaston Copper Recycling Corp.,
204 F.3d 149, 160 (4th Cir. 2000), it is not necessary that the family member’s visa application
already be denied. Where the Proclamation halts issuance of visas to nationals of the Designated
Countries indefinitely, the threat is quite real.
This injury is “fairly traceable” to the challenged practice in that the implementation of
the travel ban imposed by the Proclamation would cause the prolonged separation, and an
injunction against the Proclamation would likely redress that injury. See Hollingsworth, 133 S.
Ct. at 2661. The Court therefore finds that these Individual Plaintiffs have standing to assert the
claim that the Proclamation violates the INA.
The Organizational Plaintiffs assert standing for the INA claim in their own right and on
behalf of their members. For an organization’s claim of standing, the Court conducts the same
inquiry as in the case of an individual. Lane v. Holder, 703 F.3d 668, 674 (4th Cir. 2012). An
organization suffers an injury-in-fact when “a defendant’s actions impede its efforts to carry out
its mission.” Lane, 703 F.3d at 674; see also Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363,
379 (1982) (“Such concrete and demonstrable injury to the organization’s activities–with the
consequent drain on the organization’s resources–constitutes far more than simply a setback to
the organization’s abstract social interests.”). However, an injury to an organization generally
does not arise from a decision to expend resources on member education or litigation in response
to legislation. See Lane, 703 F.3d at 675.
Here, several organizations have asserted sufficient injury to their proprietary and
organizational interests to constitute an injury-in-fact for standing purposes. Both MESA and
IAAB argue that the Proclamation will disrupt upcoming conferences and events in the United
States by preventing individuals from the Designated Countries from attending. Specifically, the
Proclamation would bar scholars from some of the Designated Countries from MESA’s annual
meeting in November, including one prospective attendee from Iran, which would harm MESA
financially because approximately half of MESA’s budget is derived from the annual meeting.
The inability of scholars to travel to the annual meeting would also hinder the exchange of ideas
among scholars and thus adversely impact MESA’s mission of “fostering study and public
understanding of the Middle East.” J.R. 430-31. Likewise, the Proclamation will prevent
Iranian nationals from attending IAAB’s International Conference on the Iranian Diaspora,
scheduled for April 2018 in New York, at which scholars, students, journalists, artists, and
community leaders gather to exchange ideas on issues affecting the worldwide Iranian
community. Where approximately half of the invited speakers for this event typically come from
Iran, the inability of Iranian nationals to travel to the United States would hinder IAAB’s mission
of “address[ing] issues affecting the Iranian Diaspora community.” Kharazzi Aff. ¶ 17, IAAB
Mot. Prelim. Inj. Ex. 1, ECF No. 26-3. Although the Proclamation excepts Iranian nationals
traveling on a student (F and M) or exchange visitor (J) visa, such visas typically are for
individuals enrolling in an academic or vocational program or in a specific exchange visitor
program such as an au pair, summer camp, or summer work travel program. See 22 C.F.R. §§
41.61–41.62 (2017); U.S. Dep’t of State, 9 Foreign Affairs Manual §§ 402.5-5–402.5-6.
Attendees at educational, professional, or business conferences would generally use a B-1 visa,
which is now unavailable to Iranian nationals. See 9 Foreign Affairs Manual § 402.2-5(B)(5)
(stating that one of the permitted activities on a B-1 visa is to “participate in scientific,
educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars”).
Proclamation also impacts IRAP’s ability to bring one of its Syrian-national employees back to
the United States to participate in its annual, week-long strategic planning and training retreat at
its headquarters in New York, which would adversely impact IRAP’s operations and mission.
These injuries are not “merely speculative.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S.
555, 561 (1992). MESA has described at least one specific individual from Iran who would
attend the MESA annual meeting and whose fees would have to be refunded if he cannot attend,
and IRAP has referenced a specific employee who cannot receive the in-person training and
participate in strategic planning at its annual retreat. Even without identifying specific
individuals who will definitely be barred from entry into the United States to attend its events,
IAAB has alleged that the Proclamation presently constrains their efforts to recruit attendees for
their upcoming meetings and conferences and to secure their arrival in time for the events. Cf.
Hawaii 859 F.3d at 766 (finding that Hawaii had standing based on its interest in students
attending the University of Hawaii). Thus, the Proclamation would injure MESA, IAAB, and
IRAP by impeding their efforts to accomplish their missions and by disrupting their ability to
raise money, train staff, and convene programs designed to foster the free flow of ideas on topics
of significance to their organization’s purpose. See Lane, 703 F.3d at 674.
MESA, IAAB, and IRAP also fall within the zone of interests protected by the INA.
Where MESA’s purpose is to foster “study and public understanding of the Middle East,” J.R.
431-32, and IAAB is focused on “address[ing] issues affecting the Iranian Diaspora Community,
Kharazzi Aff. ¶ 17, these organizations necessarily engage in collaboration and exchange with
foreign nationals who visit the United States. Accordingly, they necessarily have a substantial
interest in the effective operation of the INA, particularly its provisions for admitting foreign
scholars and other foreign nationals to the United States as nonimmigrants to attend educational
conferences. See, e.g., 9 Foreign Affairs Manual § 402.2-5(B)(5). Likewise, as an organization
focused on refugee resettlement, IRAP has a need to engage foreign-national employees familiar
with parts of the world with refugee populations and periodically to have those employees travel
to and from the United States for planning, direction, and training. It, too, has an ongoing
interest in operation of the INA’s nonimmigrant visa provisions. See 9 Foreign Affairs Manual
§ 402.2-5(B)(3) (stating that one of the permitted activities on a B-1 visa is to “consult with
business associates”). Thus, as organizations that depend on the entry of foreign nationals into
the United States under the INA, MESA, IAAB, and IRAP are within the zone of interest of the
law. See Abourezk, 785 F.2d at 1050-51 (finding that organizations that invited foreign nationals
to the United States to speak at a rally had a cognizable stake in the Government’s interpretation
of a provision of the INA).
The Court also finds that these organizational injuries are fairly traceable to Defendants’
actions and likely to be redressed by a favorable decision because the Proclamation imposes an
entry ban on nationals from the Designated Countries who would otherwise be able to apply for
visas to enter the United States and participate in the organizational events. See Hollingsworth,
133 S. Ct. at 2661. Therefore, the Court finds that MESA, IAAB, and IRAP each have standing
to challenge the Proclamation as a violation of the INA.
Finally, several organizations can assert standing as representatives of their members. To
establish associational standing, an organization must establish that (1) its members would have
standing to sue in their own right; (2) “the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the
organization’s purpose”; and (3) “neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the
participation of individual members in the lawsuit.” Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advert.
Comm’n, 432 U.S. 333, 343 (1977); Lujan, 504 U.S. at 563 (stating that a single member with
standing in his or her own right is sufficient to establish that an organization has standing). An
organization must “make specific allegations establishing that at least one identified member had
suffered or would suffer harm.” Southern Walk at Broadlands Homeowner’s Ass’n v. OpenBand
at Broadlands, LLC, 713 F.3d 175, 184 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Summers v. Earth Island Inst.,
555 U.S. 488, 498 (2009)).
MESA and YAMA both identify at least one individual member who is a U.S. citizen or
LPR seeking to secure an immigrant visa for a close relative from one of the Designated
Countries. MESA alleges that one of its members of Syrian descent is imminently filing a
petition seeking an immigrant visa for his mother-in-law, a Syrian national. YAMA asserts that
one of its members, “Ahmed,” is a U.S. citizen whose wife has petitioned for his Yemeni
national wife and their five Yemeni national children to immigrate to the United States.
The interests raised by Plaintiffs’ claims are germane to the organizations’ purposes.
MESA seeks to foster greater understanding and dialogue with Middle East nations, including
one or more of the Designated Countries. YAMA, in part, seeks to help Yemeni American
business owners navigate immigration issues they face. Plaintiffs’ interest in obtaining an
injunction to preserve the ability of foreign nationals from the Designated Countries to travel to
the United States squarely relates to both of these missions. Finally, where the claims in these
cases consist of constitutional and statutory challenges to the Proclamation, there is no
discernible reason why the participation of individual members, as opposed to their
representatives in the form of the organization, is required for the effective advancement of this
lawsuit. With all the requirements met, the Court concludes that MESA and YAMA have
standing to assert their INA claims on behalf of their members. See Hunt, 432 U.S. at 343.
To have standing to assert an Establishment Clause claim, a plaintiff must meet the same
elements as for any other claim: (1) a cognizable injury, (2) fairly traceable to the defendant’s
actions; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Suhre v.
Haywood Cty., 131 F.3d 1082, 1085 (4th Cir. 1997). To show an injury in the context of the
Establishment Clause, the plaintiff must have “personal contact with the alleged establishment of
religion” resulting in a personal injury. Id. at 1086.
The injury can take the form of
noneconomic, intangible harm to spiritual beliefs, such as “[f]eelings of marginalization and
exclusion” because “one of the core objectives of modern Establishment Clause jurisprudence
has been to prevent the State from sending a message to non-adherents of a particular religion
that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” Moss v. Spartanburg Cty.
Sch. Dist. Seven, 683 F.3d 599, 607 (4th Cir. 2012); see Suhre, 131 F.3d at 1086; Awad v. Ziriax,
670 F.3d 1111, 1122-23 (10th Cir. 2012) (holding that a Muslim plaintiff residing in Oklahoma
suffered a cognizable injury in the form of condemnation of his religion and exposure to
“disfavored treatment” based on a voter-approved state constitutional amendment prohibiting
Oklahoma state courts from considering Sharia law); Catholic League v. City & Cty. of San
Francisco, 624 F.3d 1043, 1048 (9th Cir. 2010) (stating that a “psychological consequence”
constitutes a concrete injury where it is “produced by government condemnation of one’s own
religion or endorsement of another’s in one’s own community”). The injury, however, needs to
be a “personal injury suffered” by the plaintiff “as a consequence of the alleged constitutional
error.” Valley Forge Christian Coll. v. Ams. United for Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454
U.S. 464, 485 (1982).
Here, multiple Individual Plaintiffs have asserted “personal contact” with the
Proclamation’s alleged Establishment Clause violation to demonstrate standing. As discussed
above, multiple Plaintiffs have asserted that they have been personally injured by the
Proclamation through the harm of prolonged separation from close relatives who would be
barred from entry to the United States under the Proclamation. See supra Part I.A.1. Thus,
contrary to Defendants’ claim, they are asserting a personal injury sustained as a consequence of
the alleged constitutional error, not an injury to others. See Suhre, 131 F.3d at 1086 (finding that
“unwelcome direct contact with a religious display that appears to be endorsed by the state” is a
personal injury). It is this personal impact that separates the claims of Plaintiffs here from those
in Valley Forge, in which the plaintiffs had merely read about a conveyance of property to a
religious institution that they believed to be unfairly advantageous, Valley Forge, 454 U.S. at
468-69, 485, or in In re Navy Chaplaincy, 543 F.3d 756, 764 (D.C. Cir. 2008), in which
Protestant Navy chaplains alleging that Catholic chaplains received a preference in the chaplain
retirement system had observed the impact of the alleged Establishment Clause violation on
others but had not suffered any personal consequences from it, id. at 764-65.
Several of these Plaintiffs have also asserted specific, intangible injuries resulting from
this personal contact with the alleged Establishment Clause violation.
Among the IRAP
Plaintiffs, John Doe No. 4 states that he “felt insulted” by EO-1 and received “more suspicious
looks from people,” which caused him to feel that “I am being labeled as a Muslim more often,”
and that the Proclamation “has made me feel this more strongly” such that “I continue to feel
demeaned by the ban.”
Jane Doe No. 2 states that she understands the
Proclamation to fulfill campaign promises to condemn her religion, which has made her feel
depressed and has caused her to question whether to remain in the United States because she
does not want her children to face discrimination. Afsaneh Khazaeli states that the Proclamation
and the predecessor travel bans have made him feel like a “second-class citizen” and has made
his family the target of abuse and discrimination. J.R. 465-66. Shapour Shirani states that the
anti-Muslim nature of the travel ban has made the separation from his wife “more painful,” and
the Proclamation has made him “feel even worse” and worry that discrimination against Muslims
will persist and interfere with his rights. J.R. 476-77.
Of the IAAB Plaintiffs, Doe Plaintiff No. 2, Doe Plaintiff No. 3, Doe Plaintiff No. 5, and
Doe Plaintiff No. 6 have all expressed similar intangible harms arising from the Proclamation’s
alleged Establishment Clause violation. For example, Doe Plaintiff No. 2 states that because the
Proclamation “targets” her based on her religion, “I feel insecure and I fear for my safety and the
safety of my loved ones,” and “I feel that I am being treated as an outsider in my own country.”
Jane Doe No. 2 Aff. ¶ 9, IAAB Mot. Prelim. Inj. Ex. 3, ECF No. 26-5. Doe Plaintiff No. 3 has
stated that she fears the Proclamation will result in “more hatred and attacks against my
community” such that “I fear for my safety and the safety of my loved ones.” Jane Doe No. 3
Aff. ¶ 9, IAAB Mot. Prelim. Inj. Ex. 4, ECF No. 26-6. Both Doe Plaintiff No. 5 and Doe
Plaintiff No. 6 express that they feel attacked, targeted, and disparaged by the Proclamation’s
hostility to Muslims and that they fear for their safety as a result.
Zakzok Plaintiffs Fahed Muqbil, Eblal Zakzok, Sumaya Hamadmad, John Doe No. 1,
Jane Doe No. 2, and Jane Doe No. 3 all express that they feel condemned, stigmatized, attacked,
or discriminated against as a result of the Proclamation. For example, Fahed Muqbil feels “as if
I and my fellow American Muslims are unwanted, different, and somehow dangerous” as a result
of the Proclamation. Fahed Muqbil Decl.¶ 15, Zakzok Mot. Prelim. Inj. Ex. 1, ECF No. 6-1.
These feelings of marginalization constitute an injury in fact in an Establishment Clause
case. See Moss, 683 F.3d at 607 (holding that a Jewish father and daughter suffered an injury
when they felt like “outsiders” upon receiving a school letter stating that academic credit was
available for taking a class at a Christian bible school). Furthermore, these injuries are traceable
in whole or in part to the Proclamation, and an injunction is likely to redress these injuries by
removing the stigma associated with the Proclamation.
Multiple Individual Plaintiffs can
establish both a personal contact with the alleged establishment of religion through the prolonged
separation from their family members and a direct injury from the Proclamation through their
feelings of marginalization and exclusion. These Plaintiffs include IRAP Plaintiffs John Doe
No. 4, Jane Doe No. 2, and Shapour Shirani; IAAB Plaintiffs Doe Plaintiff No. 3, Doe Plaintiff
No. 5, and Doe Plaintiff No. 6; and Zakzok Plaintiffs Eblal Zakzok, Jane Doe No. 2, and Sumaya
Finally, MESA and YAMA, which have standing to assert an INA claim based on their
representation of members injured by the Proclamation, likewise have standing to assert an
Establishment Clause claim on behalf of their members. As discussed above, both have asserted
that at least one specific member faces prolonged separation from a close relative as a result of
the Proclamation. See supra Part I.A.1. Both also assert that the same member has experienced
feelings of marginalization or emotional distress as a result of the Proclamation’s alleged anti-
Muslim message. According to MESA, the various versions of the travel ban have caused its
member “extreme stress” and “ma[d]e him feel unwelcome, even more so now that he is a
citizen.” J.R. 429.
According to YAMA, Ahmed, one of its members facing a prolonged
separation from family, states that the ban has made him “scared here in the United States
because the message is coming from the highest people in government that Muslims are
terrorists.” J.R. 486.
Where both of these organizations have at least one member with both a personal contact
with the alleged establishment of religion and a direct injury as a result of it, the injury-in-fact
requirement has been satisfied. Since MESA serves to foster understanding of the Middle East,
in which there are many predominantly Muslim nations, and YAMA was founded in part to
oppose what its members perceived to be a Muslim ban arising from EO-1, the interests they
seek to protect through an Establishment Clause claim are germane to their organizations’
purposes. Hunt, 432 U.S. at 343. Lastly, as discussed above, there is no discernible reason why
the individual members themselves must participate in this suit, rather than their membership
organization. Id. Accordingly, MESA and YAMA have standing to assert an Establishment
Clause claim on behalf of their members.
Having found that multiple Individual and Organizational Plaintiffs have standing to
assert both INA and Establishment Clause claims, the Court need not address whether the
remaining Plaintiffs have standing. By not addressing those arguments, the Court does not
convey any view on whether those Plaintiffs have standing to assert one or more claims.
The Government also argues that Plaintiffs’ claims are not ripe because their relatives
have not yet been denied both a visa and a waiver. For the Individual Plaintiffs discussed above
whose family members are already in the process of seeking visas, denial of visas is generally
mandated because they are ineligible based on the plain language of the Proclamation. Although
a claim is generally not ripe if it is based on contingent future events, Texas v. United States, 523
U.S. 296, 300 (1998), the potential to receive a waiver does not render the claims unripe because
the waiver process itself presents an additional hurdle not faced by other visa applicants which
would delay reunification, thus creating a harm not contingent on future events. See Jackson v.
Okaloosa Cty., 21 F.3d 1531, 1541 (11th Cir. 1994) (finding in a Fair Housing Act action that
plaintiffs’ claim was ripe where, “assuming that [plaintiffs] successfully prove at trial that this
[challenged] additional hurdle was interposed with discriminatory purpose and/or with disparate
impact, then the additional hurdle itself is illegal whether or not it might have been
In assessing ripeness, courts are to consider the fitness of the issues for decision and the
hardship to the parties of withholding judicial consideration. See Nat’l Park Hospitality Ass’n v.
Dep’t of Interior, 538 U.S. 803, 808 (2003). Where this case centers on legal issues arising from
the Proclamation, which has been issued in its final form, and is not dependent on facts that may
derive from application of the waiver process, it is now fit for decision. See Miller v. Brown, 462
F.3d 312, 319 (4th Cir. 2006). In light of the individual Plaintiffs’ circumstances, withholding
judicial consideration of their claims until waivers are adjudicated would cause undue hardship
in the form of additional prolonged separation. The Court therefore finds that the claims are now
Defendants argue that Plaintiffs’ claims are not justiciable pursuant to the doctrine of
consular nonreviewability, citing Saavedra Bruno v. Albright, 197 F.3d 1153 (D.C. Cir. 1994).
Defendants also cite United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537 (1950), in which
the Supreme Court held that a foreign national could not challenge the Attorney General’s
decision to exclude her from the country and deny her a hearing to which she would ordinarily
be entitled. Id. at 547. Defendants assert that, taken together, these cases establish that any
judicial review of the President’s decision to exclude an alien for any reason is unreviewable.
Plaintiffs, however, challenge not individual visa decisions by consular officers, but the
overarching travel ban policy imposed by the Proclamation. See Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 768
(rejecting the argument that consular nonreviewability barred judicial review of statutory claims
challenging EO-2 and noting that “[c]ourts can and do review both constitutional and statutory
challenges to the substance and implementation of immigration policy”) (citation omitted);
Washington, 847 F.3d at 1162; Int’l Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen v. Meese, 761 F.2d
798, 801 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (distinguishing challenges to consular decisions on individual visa
applications from a challenge to general operational instructions promulgated by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service); cf. Immigration and Naturalization Serv. v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919,
940-41 (1983) (noting that although Congress has plenary authority over immigration, the Court
could still review an immigration statute to ensure that it implemented that authority by
“constitutionally permissible means”). The Defendants’ reliance on Knauff and Saavedra Bruno
is thus misplaced. These decisions relate only to aliens appealing individual denials of entry into
the United States. Knauff, 338 U.S. at 539; Saavedra Bruno, 197 F.3d at 1155, 1163-64. Where
Plaintiffs include U.S. citizens asserting statutory and constitutional claims challenging a broader
policy as opposed to individual consular determinations, the doctrine of consular
nonreviewability is not applicable. See Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 768-69; see also IRAP, 857 F.3d at
Defendants assert that the APA has foreclosed the Plaintiffs’ statutory claims on multiple
grounds. The APA provides standing for any party that is “adversely affected or aggrieved by
agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute.” 5 U.S.C. § 702; see LAVAS, 45 F.3d at
471. This general grant of standing is subject to several limitations. Judicial review is available
only for “final agency action,” 5 U.S.C. § 704, and is not available if “agency action is
committed to agency discretion by law,” 5 U.S.C. § 701(a)(2).
First, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs cannot bring a claim under the APA because they
are not “adversely affected or aggrieved” within the meaning of the APA. As discussed above,
the Individual Plaintiffs and several Organizational Plaintiffs are within the zone of interests of
the INA and are injured by the denial of immigrant or nonimmigrant visas for family members or
expected conference attendees. See supra Part I.A.1. They are thus “adversely affected or
aggrieved” by Defendants’ use of their authority under the INA. 5 U.S.C. § 702; see LAVAS, 45
F.3d 471-72 (finding that U.S. family members of Vietnamese nationals desiring to be processed
for visas in Hong Kong but ordered to return to Vietnam were “aggrieved” under the APA and
within the “zone of interests” of the INA); Abourezk, 785 F.2d at 1051 (finding that U.S. citizens
who invited foreign nationals to speak were “aggrieved” by the State Department’s interpretation
of an INA definition that led to the exclusion of the intended speakers).
Second, Defendants assert that judicial review is not available because the Proclamation
was issued by the President, not the head of a federal department or agency, and thus is not a
“final agency action” within the meaning of the APA. In Franklin v. Massachusetts, 505 U.S.
788 (1992), the Supreme Court held that the President is not subject to the APA such that his
actions cannot be reviewed under that law. Id. at 800-01. To the extent that the Plaintiffs seek
an injunction against the President himself, this argument has merit. See id. at 802 (stating that
“a grant of injunctive relief against the President himself is extraordinary and should . . . raise
judicial eyebrows”); see also IRAP, 857 F.3d at 605.
However, Plaintiffs have named as
defendants federal agency officials who will implement the Proclamation. “[I]t is now well
established” that “[r]eview of the legality of a Presidential action can ordinarily be obtained in a
suit seeking to enjoin the officers who attempt to enforce the President’s directive.” Chamber of
Commerce v. Reich, 74 F.3d 1322, 1327-28 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (permitting judicial review of an
Executive Order through a suit against the Secretary of Labor). Such review is warranted
because there is a “strong presumption in favor of judicial review of administrative action.”
Immigration and Naturalization Serv. v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289, 298 (2001). As for Defendants’
claim that the agency action to date is not “final,” the Proclamation is already in effect as to
certain individuals and is being enforced by federal agencies, and, as discussed above in relation
to ripeness, a formal denial of a visa or waiver is not necessary for the case to be subject to
review. See supra Part I.B.
Third, Defendants claim that review of the Proclamation is foreclosed by 5 U.S.C. §
701(a)(2) as “committed to agency discretion by law.” Under their view, Congress committed
the use of § 1182(f) to the sole discretion of the President, such that a reviewing court has no
manageable standard by which to evaluate it. Despite the Government’s asserted claim of a lack
of intelligible standard, courts have had no difficulty reaching the merits of challenges to the
President’s use of § 1182(f). See Sale v. Haitian Ctrs. Council, 509 U.S. 155, 187 (1993);
Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 770-74; cf. Abourezk, 785 F.2d at 1051 (finding that the INA “does not
commit to unguided agency discretion the decision to exclude an alien”).
More generally, courts have regularly reviewed Presidential action, including action
taken in the context of foreign policy and immigration, to ensure that it fits within the bounds of
federal statutes. See, e.g., Sale, 509 U.S. at 187 (reviewing on the merits an INA challenge to
President’s use of § 1182(f)); Dames & Moore v. Regan, 453 U.S. 654, 669-88 (1981)
(reviewing on the merits an Executive Order regarding the attachment of Iranian assets pursuant
to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act); see also Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.
v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 635-38 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring) (establishing the framework for
judicial review of Presidential action). Defendants’ contention that the Plaintiffs cannot contest
the Proclamation in court cannot square with this body of precedent. The Court therefore finds
that this case is justiciable and proceeds to the merits of the Plaintiffs’ claims.
To obtain a preliminary injunction, moving parties must establish that (1) they are likely
to succeed on the merits, (2) they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
preliminary relief, (3) the balance of equities tips in their favor, and (4) an injunction is in the
public interest. Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); see Dewhurst v.
Century Aluminum Co., 649 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2011). A moving party must satisfy each
requirement as articulated. Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 575 F.3d
342, 347 (4th Cir. 2009), vacated on other grounds, 559 U.S. 1089 (2010).
preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy,” it “may only be awarded upon a clear
showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief.” Winter, 555 U.S. at 22.
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
Because “courts should be extremely careful not to issue unnecessary constitutional
rulings,” Am. Foreign Serv. Ass’n v. Garfunkel, 490 U.S. 153, 161 (1989) (per curiam), the Court
first addresses the statutory claims and then proceeds, if necessary, to the constitutional claim.
Immigration and Nationality Act
Plaintiffs assert that the Proclamation violates provisions of the INA. The formulation of
immigration policies is entrusted exclusively to Congress. Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 531
(1954). In the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, Pub. L. 82-414, 66 Stat. 163, Congress
delegated some of its power to the President in the form of what is now Section 212(f) of the
INA, codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f) (“§ 1182(f)”), which provides that:
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens
into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,
he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend
the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or
impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
8 U.S.C. § 1182(f).
Congress has also authorized the President to take action relating to entry into the United
States in what is now Section 215(a) of the INA, codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1185(a) (“§ 1185(a)”):
Unless otherwise ordered by the President, it shall be unlawful—
(1) for any alien to depart from or enter or attempt to depart from or enter the
United States except under such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, and
subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may prescribe.
8 U.S.C. § 1185(a)(1). The Proclamation relies on these two provisions as the statutory authority
for the President’s action.
Plaintiffs assert that the Proclamation violates the INA in three ways. First, they argue,
as they did in challenging EO-2, that the Proclamation violates Section 202(a) of the INA,
codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1152(a) (“§ 1152(a)”), which bars discrimination on the basis of
nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas. Second, they assert that the Proclamation fails to
comply with the requirement in § 1182(f) that the President find that the suspension of entry by
nationals from the Designated Countries would “be detrimental to the interests of the United
States.” Third, they contend that the Proclamation exceeds the authority granted by § 1182(f)
because it effectively re-writes portions of the INA or otherwise intrudes on Congress’s
Plaintiffs argue that the Proclamation’s suspension of entry into the United States by
immigrants from the Designated Countries violates the INA’s bar on discrimination based on
nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas. In opposition, the Government asserts that the
Proclamation was lawful because it was issued pursuant to § 1182(f), which grants the President
broad authority to bar the entry of immigrants, and that the non-discrimination provisions of §
1152(a) do not limit the President’s § 1182(f) authority.
Section 1152(a) provides that, with certain exceptions:
No person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in
the issuance of an immigrant visa because of his race, sex, nationality, place of
birth, or place of residence[.]
8 U.S.C. § 1152(a)(1)(A).
Section 1152(a) was enacted as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,
which was adopted expressly to abolish the “national origins system” imposed by the
Immigration Act of 1924, which keyed yearly immigration quotas for particular nations to the
percentage of foreign-born individuals of that nationality who were living in the continental
United States, based on the 1920 census, in order to “maintain, to some degree, the ethnic
composition of the American people.” H. Rep. No. 89-745, at 9 (1965). President Lyndon B.
Johnson sought this reform because the national origins system was at odds with “our basic
American tradition” that we “ask not where a person comes from but what are his personal
qualities.” Id. at 11.
In reviewing the motion for a preliminary injunction of EO-2, this Court considered the
interplay between § 1182(f) and § 1152(a) and concluded, based on canons of statutory
construction, that the President’s authority under § 1182(f) is limited by the § 1152(a) bar on
discrimination based on nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas. See IRAP, 241 F.
Supp.3d at 553-56. The Court reaches the same conclusion here as to both § 1182(f) and §
1185(a). Under the canon that a later-adopted provision controls over an earlier one, § 1152(a),
enacted in 1965, controls over § 1182(f) and the relevant text of § 1185(a)(1), enacted in 1952.3
See Watt v. Alaska, 451 U.S. 259, 266 (1981). Section 1152(a) is also the more specific
provision, in that it requires a particular result, namely non-discrimination in the issuance of
immigrant visas on specific, enumerated bases, while § 1182(f) and § 1185(a) mandate no
particular action, but instead set out general parameters for the President’s power to bar entry and
impose rules and regulations on entry and departure. Thus, to the extent that § 1152(a) may
conflict with § 1182(f) and § 1185(a) on whether the President can bar the issuance of immigrant
visas based on nationality, § 1152(a), as the more specific provision, controls. See RadLAX
Gateway Hotel, LLC v. Amalgamated Bank, 132 S. Ct. 2065, 2071 (2012) (“The general/specific
canon is perhaps the most frequently applied . . . To eliminate the contradiction, the specific
provision is construed as the exception to the general one.”); Edmond v. United States, 520 U.S.
Section 1185 was amended in 1978, to broaden its applicability beyond times of war or
national emergency, but the operative language of § 1185(a)(1) remained unchanged. See
Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1979, Pub. L. No. 95-426, § 707(a), 92 Stat.
651, 657 (1997) (“Ordinarily, where a specific provision conflicts with a general one, the
specific governs.”); United States v. Smith, 812 F.2d 161, 166 (4th Cir. 1987).
Finally, it is highly significant that § 1152(a) explicitly excludes certain sections of the
INA from its scope, specifically §§ 1101(a)(27), 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), and 1153, but does not
exclude § 1182(f) or § 1185(a) from its reach. 8 U.S.C. § 1152(a)(1)(A). The absence of any
reference to § 1182(f) or § 1185(a) among these exceptions provides strong evidence that
Congress did not intend for those provisions to be exempt from the anti-discrimination provision
of § 1152(a). United Dominion Indus., Inc. v. United States, 532 U.S. 822, 836 (2001) (“[T]he
mention of some implies the exclusion of others not mentioned.”); Reyes-Gaona v. N.C. Growers
Ass’n, 250 F.3d 861, 865 (4th Cir. 2001) (noting that Congress “knows how to expand the
jurisdictional reach of a statute”). Thus, pursuant to § 1152(a), a proclamation under § 1182(f)
or § 1185(a) may not discriminate in the issuance of immigrant visas.
This conclusion is consistent with that of the Ninth Circuit, which found a likelihood of
success on the merits of the claim that EO-2’s ban on entry by immigrants based on nationality
exceeded the President’s § 1182(f) authority, concluding that “§ 1152(a)(1)(A)’s nondiscrimination mandate cabins the President’s authority under § 1182(f).” Hawaii, 859 F.3d at
778. To reach this determination, the Ninth Circuit similarly applied the canons of statutory
construction and relied on the facts that § 1152(a) was more recently enacted, § 1152(a) was the
more specific statute, and § 1182(f) was not listed among sections of the INA exempt from the
non-discrimination requirements of § 1152(a)(1)(A). See id. at 778.
The Government argues that the Proclamation does not conflict with § 1152(a) because it
suspended the entry of immigrants, not the issuance of visas. There is a textual difference.
Section 1182(f) authorizes the President to bar “entry” to certain classes of aliens. 8 U.S.C. §
Section 1152(a) bars discrimination based on nationality in the “issuance of an
immigrant visa.” Id. § 1152(a)(1)(A). These activities, however, usually go hand-in-hand. An
immigrant cannot seek entry without first obtaining an immigrant visa.
But receiving an
immigrant visa is meaningless without later receiving permission to enter. Thus, the denial of
entry to immigrants would generally have the effect of causing the denial of immigrant visas.
See Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 776 (holding that the EO-2’s suspension on entry “in substance operates
as a ban on visa issuance on the basis of nationality”); see also IRAP, 857 F.3d at 637 (Thacker,
J., concurring) (“Here, the ultimate effect of what EO-2 actually does is require executive
agencies to deny visas based on nationality.”). If § 1182(f) can be used to deny entry based on
nationality, “the President could circumvent the limitations set by § 1152(a)(1)(A) by permitting
the issuance of visas to nationals of . . . designated countries, but then deny them entry.
Congress could not have intended to permit the President to flout § 1152(a) so easily.” Hawaii,
859 F.3d at 777.
There may be scenarios under which denial of entry based on nationality under § 1182(f)
or § 1185(a) could be deemed to have such a limited impact that it would not also effect a denial
of an immigrant visa. For example, a nationality-based denial of entry of limited duration, such
as during a specific urgent national crisis or public health emergency, that was not designed to
halt visa issuances but instead simply to impose a delay or limitations on migration, arguably
would not result in discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas in violation of § 1152(a).
President Reagan’s 1986 decision to bar entry to Cuban nationals in retaliation for Cuba’s
suspension of an immigration agreement and facilitation of illegal migration into the United
States, the only historical example of the use of § 1182(f) authority to bar entry based on
nationality, falls into this category. That bar of entry, by its own terms, was to continue only
until “the restoration of normal migration procedures between the two countries.” Proclamation
5,517, 51 Fed. Reg. 30,470 (Aug. 22, 1986). Likewise, President Carter’s invocation of 8 U.S.C.
§ 1185(a)(1) in response to the Iran Hostage Crisis authorized “limitations and exceptions on the
rules and regulations governing the entry” of Iranians into the United States without any
reference to visa issuance. Exec. Order 12,172, 44 Fed. Reg. 67947 (Nov. 26, 1979); Exec.
Order 12,206, 45 Fed. Reg. 24,101 (Apr. 7, 1980). Accordingly, when considering EO-2, which
imposed only a 90-day “temporary pause” during which some entry could have been denied
without impacting the issuance of visas, this Court drew a distinction between entry and visa
issuance. See IRAP, 241 F. Supp.3d at 556.
Here, however, the Proclamation has no specified end date and no requirement of
renewal. Where the Proclamation has effectively imposed a permanent, rather than temporary,
ban on immigrants from the Designated Countries, and has effectively stopped the issuance of
immigrant visas indefinitely, the bar on entry is the equivalent of a ban on issuing immigrant
visas based on nationality. This conclusion is supported by the Proclamation itself, which, even
more than EO-2, makes clear that its intended effect is to deny the issuance of immigrant visas,
in violation of § 1152(a). First, unlike EO-2, which generally barred entry by nationals of the
Designated Countries, the Proclamation explicitly and specifically targets nationals seeking to
immigrate to the United States. The Proclamation states, “For all but one of those 7 countries . . .
I am restricting the entry of all immigrants.” Procl. § 1(h)(ii).
Second, the text of the
Proclamation reveals that its primary effect is not that nationals of the Designated Countries
holding immigrant visas will be denied entry at the border by CBP, but that the State Department
and consular officers will stop issuing immigrant visas to such nationals.
Proclamation actually permits entry by any nationals holding approved visas. Id. § 3(a)(iii).
Thus, as a result of the Proclamation, Defendants will effect the travel ban by no longer issuing
immigrant visas to nationals of the Designated Countries.
Moreover, the fact that the
Proclamation provides that the Secretary of State and consular officers may grant waivers to the
entry ban, Procl. § 3(c), further reveals that the Proclamation generally imposes a ban on visa
issuance, because those officials’ statutory role is to issue visas, not to oversee actual entry into
the United States. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(16) (stating that an “immigrant visa” is “issued by a
consular officer”). Indeed, the Proclamation erases the line between the issuance of a visa and
entry into the United States when it specifically provides that a waiver issued by a consular
officer “will be effective both for the issuance of a visa and for any subsequent entry on that
visa.” Procl. § 3(c)(iii). Finally, any claim that the Proclamation relates only to the question of
entry to the United States is belied by its multiple references to visa issuance, including the
provision stating that “visa adjudications for nationals of Somalia and decisions regarding their
entry as nonimmigrants should be subject to additional scrutiny.” Procl. § 2(h)(ii). Notably, the
State Department publicly describes the Proclamation not as limiting entry, but as a “Presidential
Proclamation on Visas.” New Presidential Proclamation on Visas September 24, 2017, U.S.
Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs (Sept. 24, 2017), https://travel.state.gov
/content/travel/en/news/important-announcement.html. Because § 1152(a) does not permit such
discriminatory denials of immigrant visas, the Proclamation exceeds the President’s statutory
authority under § 1182(f) and § 1185(a). See Abourezk, 785 F.2d at 1061 (noting that the
President’s authority in the immigration context derives from “the statutory authority conferred
Defendants’ remaining arguments do not alter this conclusion.
unpersuasively claim that § 1182(f) and § 1185(a) do not conflict with § 1152(a) because they
“limit the universe of individuals eligible to receive visas” to which the non-discrimination
provision of § 1152(a) would apply. This argument fails because there is nothing in the text of
either statute that remotely suggests that they serve any function relating to visa eligibility.
Moreover, acceptance of the Government’s construction, under which discrimination would be
permitted before the application of the non-discrimination provision, would render § 1152(a)
meaningless. See Weinberger v. Hynson, Westcott & Dunning, Inc., 412 U.S. 609, 633 (1973)
(stating that “all parts of a statute, if at all possible, are to be given effect”).
Likewise, the Court finds unpersuasive Defendants’ assertion that nationality
discrimination is permissible under 8 U.S.C. § 1152(a)(1)(B), which states that “[n]othing in [§
1152(a)] shall be construed to limit the authority of the Secretary of State to determine the
procedures for the processing of immigrant visa applications or the locations where such
applications will be processed.” This provision applies only to the Secretary of State and thus
does not provide a basis to uphold discriminatory action in a Presidential Proclamation. More
importantly, where the Proclamation now imposes an indefinite travel ban based on nationality,
rather than a 90-day “pause,” such an action cannot fairly be construed as a change in
“procedures” or the “location” of visa processing. § 1152(a)(1)(B).
The Court therefore finds that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim
that the Proclamation violates the non-discrimination provision of § 1152(a) to the extent that it
bars entry by immigrants on the basis of nationality. Because this argument does not apply to
nonimmigrants seeking entry to the United States, the Court must consider Plaintiffs’ remaining
Section 1182(f) Finding
Plaintiffs further contend that the President has failed to make an adequate finding to
support his invocation of authority under § 1182(f). Section 1182(f) requires that the President
find that the entry of a class of aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. 8
U.S.C. § 1182(f) (emphasis added); see also Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 770, 774 (concluding that EO-2
did not contain adequate findings that the entry of nationals from the countries subject to that
travel ban would be detrimental to the interests of the United States). The INA does not define
key elements of this requirement, such as “find” or “detrimental to the interests of the United
States.” See 8 U.S.C. § 1101 (defining terms used in the INA). “Classes of aliens” is also not
defined, but examples are given in 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a). These examples include aliens who have
“engaged in a terrorist activity,” § 1182(a)(3)(B)(i)(I), and “illegal entrants and immigration
violators,” § 1182(a)(6). None of these examples are based on nationality. See §§ 1182(a)(1)(10).
The President explicitly made the finding that “absent the security measures set forth in
this proclamation, the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of persons”
barred from entry by the proclamation “would be detrimental to the interests of the United
States.” Procl. pmbl. In support of that finding, the Proclamation describes two purposes. First,
the Proclamation helps to prevent the “entry of those foreign nationals about whom the United
States Government lacks sufficient information to assess the risks they pose to the United
Procl. § 1(h)(i).
Second, the Proclamation will help “elicit improved identity-
management and information-sharing protocols and practices from foreign governments” and
thus “advance foreign policy, national security, and counterterrorism objectives.” Id. The
Proclamation contains additional information in support of its conclusion that a ban on entry of
Designated Country nationals will further these two goals.
With regard to addressing
information deficiencies, the Proclamation states that “information-sharing and identitymanagement protocols and practices of foreign governments are important for the effectiveness
of the screening and vetting protocols of the United States,” and, citing the September 15, 2017
DHS Report, concludes that seven of the Designated Countries “continue to have ‘inadequate
identity-management protocols, information-sharing practices, and risk factors.” Procl. § 1(b),
(g). It further states that Somalia, although not identified as inadequate in the DHS Report,
“lacks command and control of its territory” such that its ability to share information about
nationals who pose terrorist risks is compromised. Id. § 2(h)(i). Without this information from
the Designated Countries, the President finds, nationality-based restrictions are needed to prevent
the entry of individuals about whom there is insufficient risk information.
Id. § 1(h)(i).
According to the Proclamation, a nationality-based policy also fits with the diplomatic purpose
of the Proclamation to encourage foreign governments to improve their information-sharing
practices. See Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 772 n.13 (noting that the two past nationality-based entry
bans as to Cuba and Iran were for “retaliatory diplomatic measures responsive to government
Plaintiffs assert compelling arguments that the Proclamation’s nationality-based
restrictions are not actually necessary.
Under current policy, applicants for immigrant or
nonimmigrant visas, not their governments, are required to produce the information necessary to
demonstrate that they are eligible to enter the United States. See 8 U.S.C. § 1361. Dozens of
former national security officials have stated that this travel ban is unnecessary, that it serves no
national security purpose, and that there is no evidence that the United States needs to shift away
from this individualized vetting system to nationality-based bans. See Joint Decl. of Former
Nat’l Sec. Officials, J.R. 770. Notably, the Proclamation does not provide examples of vetting
failures involving nationals from the Designated Countries that resulted in the entry of terrorists
or others who should not have been admitted.
Plaintiffs also question the choices made in the Proclamation given that Somalia met the
Proclamation’s baseline criteria and was included in the entry ban, while Iraq did not meet the
baseline criteria but was not included. Procl. § 1(g), 2(h). Further, the Proclamation appears to
be overbroad with regard to its purported goals. It prohibits almost all Designated Country
nationals from entering the United States, regardless of age, health, or even connection to the
Designated Country itself. At least one of the Plaintiffs, Dr. Sumaya Hamadmad, seeks to
reunite with her sister, a Syrian national who has spent her entire life in Jordan, about whom the
Syrian government would have no relevant information.
Under a more robust standard of review, these criticisms might carry the day. But there
is no requirement that a § 1182(f) entry restriction meet more stringent standards found
elsewhere in the law, such as that it be “narrowly tailored” or the “least restrictive means” to
obtain its stated aims. See, e.g., Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508
U.S. 520, 531-32 (1993); 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1(b)(2) (2012). The text of § 1182(f) does not
even require the President to find that suspending the entry of a class of aliens would be
detrimental to national security, only that it is detrimental to the interests of the United States. 8
U.S.C. § 1182(f). Under this broad standard, previous § 1182(f) proclamations have provided far
less detail regarding their findings. See, e.g., Proclamation 8,015, 71 Fed. Reg. 28,541 (May 12,
2006) (barring entry of members of the Government of Belarus based on “the importance to the
United States of fostering democratic institutions in Belarus”); Exec. Order. No. 12,807, 57 Fed.
Reg. 21,133 (May 24, 1992) (barring entry of “any defined vessel carrying [illegal] aliens” based
on a finding that “there continues to be a serious problem of persons attempting to come to the
United States by sea without necessary documentation and otherwise illegally”). Against this
background, the Court cannot conclude that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the
Proclamation fails to make a finding of detrimental interest sufficient to invoke § 1182(f).
Section 1182(f) Authority
Lastly, Plaintiffs argue that the Proclamation’s ban on entry of nationals from the
Designated Countries exceeds the authority granted to the President in § 1182(f). Specifically,
Plaintiffs assert that the Proclamation effectively revises the INA by imposing alternative visa
issuance criteria that conflict with statutory criteria and thereby overrides Congress’s policy
judgments, particularly those made in establishing the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”).
Defendants counter that (1) the issue of whether the Proclamation exceeds the authority granted
in § 1182(f) is not judicially reviewable; and (2) even if subject to review, the Proclamation is an
appropriate use of the President’s broad authority under § 1182(f). Although the Proclamation
also relies on § 1185(a)(1), the parties do not argue that this section provides broader authority
than § 1182(f). Therefore, the Court need only consider whether the Proclamation exceeds the
President’s delegated authority under § 1182(f).
The Court first addresses Defendants’ claim that the President’s exercise of authority
pursuant to § 1182(f) is not subject to judicial review. In Defendants’ view, review of § 1182(f)
would be inappropriate because it would amount to a second-guessing of a decision that is
appropriately committed to the President. Yet the Supreme Court had no difficulty reaching the
merits of a challenge asserting that the President’s use of § 1182(f) to blockade illegal migrants
from Haiti violated another provision of the INA. See Sale, 509 U.S. at 170-74, 187. Moreover,
in evaluating Plaintiffs’ argument, the Court is not second-guessing the President’s discretion,
but examining whether the Proclamation fits within the President’s grant of authority. Such
review of whether executive action exceeds statutory authority is plainly within the purview of
the courts. See, e.g., Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Kerry, 135 S. Ct. 2076, 2090 (2015)
(reviewing whether the President’s decision to not list “Jerusalem, Israel” as a birthplace on a
passport conflicted with a provision of the 2003 Foreign Relations Authorization Act); Dames &
Moore, 453 U.S at 668 (stating, in reviewing a claim that President Carter’s actions in freezing
Iranian assets during the Iran Hostage Crisis exceeded his statutory and constitutional authorities,
that “the validity of the President’s action, at least so far as separation-of-powers principles are
concerned, hinges on a consideration of all the circumstances which might shed light on the
views of the Legislative Branch toward such action”). Thus, the Court rejects the argument that
it may not review Plaintiffs’ claim that the Proclamation exceeds the authority granted in §
Plaintiffs’ claim centers on two alleged transgressions. First, Plaintiffs argue that the
Proclamation imposes new criteria on the issuance of visas that conflict with Congress’s
statutorily established criteria. Indeed, although the text of § 1182(f) authorizes the President
only to “suspend the entry” of classes of immigrants and nonimmigrants, the Proclamation goes
further. The Proclamation does not stop nationals of the Designated Countries from entering the
United States if they already have a valid visa or if they are able to obtain one through the
processes described in the Proclamation. Rather, as with EO-2, the Proclamation effectuates the
travel ban by using the visa issuance process.
See Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 777 (noting the
Government’s acknowledgment that “the entry ban” under EO-2 “would be implemented
through visa denials”). Thus, Plaintiffs correctly observe that the Proclamation goes beyond
mere suspension of entry and delves into the criteria for issuing visas to nationals of the
Designated Countries. Specifically, the Proclamation allows a consular officer to issue waivers
to such nationals that would be “effective both for the issuance of a visa and for any subsequent
entry on that visa.” Procl. § 3(c)(iii). These waivers may be granted only if a foreign national
demonstrates that denial of entry would cause “undue hardship,” that entry would not pose a
threat to the United States, and that entry will be in the “national interest.” Procl. §§ 3(c)(i)(A),
(C). The Proclamation then directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland
Security to establish guidance for consular officials to use when making waiver determinations
and establishes factors that the guidance must consider along with specific factual scenarios that
would generally justify a waiver.
Arguably, these criteria conflict with Congress’s detailed system governing the issuance
of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. As part of this system, Congress places on applicants for
visas the burden to establish eligibility, including to show that they do not fall into any categories
of individuals ineligible for visas. See 8 U.S.C. § 1361; id. § 1182(a). These categories include
those with possible links to terrorism or criminal activity. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182(a)(2)-(3)(B).
Plaintiffs thus assert, with some force, that the Proclamation adds additional criteria that
nationals of the Designated Countries must satisfy before they can obtain an immigrant or
nonimmigrant visa to gain entry to the United States. This addition of such criteria, Plaintiffs
argue, impermissibly replaces Congress’s list of criteria with the President’s own. The Court
agrees that, as constructed, the Proclamation effectively adds new criteria for the issuance of
visas and entry by nationals of certain countries beyond those formally imposed by Congress.
Second, Plaintiffs argue that the Proclamation exceeds the bounds of § 1182(f) because it
conflicts with Congress’s policy judgments in addressing the same problem purportedly
addressed by the Proclamation: poor information sharing by foreign governments. As evidence,
Plaintiffs reference the VWP, established by Congress, which allows nationals of certain foreign
countries to enter the United States for periods of less than 90 days without a visa. 8 U.S.C. §
1187(a)(1). To be eligible for this program, a country must meet certain standards relating to
cooperation and the sharing of information with the United States. § 1187(c)(2). Notably, many
of the standards applied to determine if a country qualifies for the VWP are strikingly similar to
those considered in the Proclamation. For example, among the criteria for VWP eligibility are
whether a country provides its nationals with an electronic machine-readable passport containing
biographic and biometric data, § 1187(a)(3), and whether the country reports lost and stolen
passports to the United States, § 1187(c)(2)(D). The Proclamation lists these same criteria as
“identity management information” considered in the assessment whether a country should be
added to the travel ban list. Procl. § 1(c)(i). Other VWP criteria include whether a foreign
government shares information on whether its nationals traveling to the United States pose a
security threat, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(c)(2)(F), the same type of information considered by the
Proclamation under the category of “National security and public-safety information,” Procl. §
1(c)(ii). Likewise, the VWP considers whether a country is a safe haven for terrorists, 8 U.S.C. §
1187(a)(12)(D)(ii)(III), and whether the country generally accepts the repatriation of its own
nationals subject to orders of removal from the United States, § 1187(c)(2)(E). These factors,
along with whether a country is a participant in the VWP program itself, are the “National
security and public-safety risk assessment” factors considered by the Proclamation in assessing
whether a country should be subject to the travel ban. Thus, in determining which countries to
subject to a travel ban, the Proclamation duplicates many of the same criteria, and revisits many
of the same issues, that Congress considered in crafting the VWP.
Further, the Proclamation imposes a travel ban on some of the same nations, based on the
some of the same criteria, on which Congress imposed lesser restrictions in its recent
amendments to the VWP. In 2015, Congress amended the VWP to exclude individuals from
participating countries who were dual citizens of, or had traveled to, Iraq, Syria, a country
designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism (Iran, Syria, and Sudan), or
other countries designated by the Department of Homeland Security (Libya, Somalia, and
Yemen). See Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015,
Pub. L. No. 114-113, Div. O, Title II, § 203, 129 Stat. 2242 (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1187(a)(12)).
For example, a French national who had traveled to Syria or was also a Syrian national would
not be eligible for visa-free travel to the United States, even though France is a VWP country.
Instead, Congress required such an individual to apply for a nonimmigrant visa and submit to a
consular interview and adjudication by a consular officer. See 8 U.S.C. § 1187(a)(12). In light
of this statutory scheme, Plaintiffs argue that the Proclamation exceeds the bounds of § 1182(f)
because it conflicts with Congress’s policy judgments relating to the same issues and same
nations. The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that the Proclamation addresses some of the same
issues considered by Congress, specifically, information sharing by foreign nations relating to
travel of foreign nationals to the United States and the consequences for failing to engage in it,
and that the Proclamation imposes significantly more restrictive limitations that go beyond what
Congress has previously imposed.
Contrary to the Defendants’ characterization, Plaintiffs’ claim is not one of implied
repeal. See Branch v. Smith, 538 U.S. 254, 273 (2003) (establishing the standard for claims that
a later provision has effectively revealed a prior provision). No one is arguing that § 1182(f) has
effectively been repealed. Rather, Plaintiffs’ argument appears to be that Congress’s legislative
action, in enacting the VWP and criteria for issuance of visas, has implicitly limited the
President’s § 1182(f) authority to bar intrusions into these areas. In a different context, the
Supreme Court recognized a similar theory when it held that “the meaning of one statute may be
affected by other Acts, particularly where Congress has spoken subsequently and more
specifically to the topic at hand.” Food and Drug Admin. v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco
Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 133 (2000) (holding that the Food and Drug Administration’s statutory
authority to regulate medical “devices” did not extend to regulation of tobacco, in part because
Congress’s frequent legislation relating to tobacco signaled that Congress did not intend that
result). Indeed, not only has Congress amended the VWP as recently as 2015, but it has
regularly revised various aspects of the immigration system affecting visa issuance over the past
15 years. See, e.g., Consolidated Appropriations Act, Pub. L. No. 110-161, Div. J, § 691(d), 121
Stat. 1844 (2008) (designating the Taliban as a terrorist organization representatives of which are
inadmissible under the INA); Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Pub. L.
No. 108-458, § 7203, 118 Stat. 3638 (requiring that all visa applications be reviewed and
adjudicated by a consular officer). Thus, Plaintiffs have offered a legitimate theory that the
Proclamation has gone beyond suspending entry into legislating changes to Congress’s statutory
However, this theory is undermined in two ways. First, with respect to the new visa
issuance criteria arising from the waiver provisions, § 1182(f) explicitly grants the President the
authority not just to suspend entry, but to “impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may
deem to be appropriate.” 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f). Thus, even if the waiver requirements are deemed
to be additional criteria that must be met by an alien seeking admission, a fair reading of §
1182(f) is that it allows the President to impose such additional restrictions outside of previously
Second, it is not clear that the Proclamation directly conflicts with the judgments
reflected in Congress’s construction of the VWP.
The VWP covers certain participating
countries that have agreed to abide by certain conditions set by the United States, including
information-sharing conditions, in exchange for visa-less travel to the United States for their
nationals. See 8 U.S.C. § 1187(c)(2). It does not directly address whether nationals of certain
non-VWP countries should be subject to even greater scrutiny than the standard visa issuance
process. Likewise, the 2015 amendments related to the treatment of nationals of VWP countries
who were either dual nationals of or had traveled to certain countries, including five of the
countries covered by the Proclamation. See Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist
Travel Prevention Act of 2015 § 203. Those individuals are not affected by the Proclamation.
See Procl. § 3(b)(iv) (excepting dual nationals of Designated Countries traveling on a passport of
a different country). Thus, although the Proclamation and the VWP address similar problems
and consider similar factors, the two are not in such conflict that the VWP could fairly be
deemed to foreclose the restrictions imposed through the Proclamation pursuant to § 1182(f).
The Court therefore does not conclude that there is a likelihood of success on the claim that the
Proclamation has effectively legislated changes to the INA in contravention of Congressional
Finally, Plaintiffs point to the sheer scope of the Proclamation and argue that it must be
beyond the limit of any authority delegated by Congress. Indeed, the Proclamation is unique
among past invocations of § 1182(f). Of the 42 proclamations issued pursuant to § 1182(f) or §
1185(a)(1) prior to EO-1, none have sought to ban entry by nationals of more than one country at
once, let alone eight countries with approximately 150 million nationals. See Kate M. Manuel,
Cong. Research Serv., R44743, Executive Authority to Exclude Aliens: In Brief 6-10 (2017).
The only uses of § 1182(f) or § 1185(a)(1) to bar entry by nationals of a specific country were
triggered by a specific foreign policy dispute: the Iran Hostage Crisis and a decision by the
Cuban government to cancel a migration agreement with the United States. Exec. Order No.
12,172, 44 Fed. Reg. 67947; Exec. Order No. 12,206, 45 Fed. Reg. 24,101; Proclamation No.
5,517, 51 Fed. Reg. 30,470. None explicitly affected the issuance of visas to the same extent as
the Proclamation. Indeed, most § 1182(f) proclamations were issued in response to a discrete
event and were limited to a specific group of individuals associated with that event. Manuel,
supra, at 6-10. As a typical example, President Clinton invoked § 1182(f) to suspend entry of
Sudanese government and military officials for their failure to comply with a United Nations
Security Council Resolution. See, e.g., Proclamation No. 6,958, 61 Fed. Reg. 60,007 (Nov. 22,
1996); see also Exec. Order No. 13,606, 77 Fed. Reg. 24,571 (Apr. 22, 2012) (suspending entry
of certain persons associated with human rights abuses by the Iranian and Syrian governments
through the use of information technology). Thus, the Proclamation is unprecedented in its
combination of a broad sweep impacting millions of people based on their nationality, its
imposition of additional criteria for visa issuance, and its arguable conflict with Congressional
immigration policy. If there is an example of a § 1182(f) order, past or present, that exceeds the
authority of that statute, it would be this one.
But other than the specific nationality restriction of § 1152(a), Plaintiffs have not
identified, nor has the Court found, any clear limit on the President’s authority under § 1182(f)
that this proclamation has crossed. Nor have Plaintiffs cited any case where a court has struck
down a § 1182(f) order as beyond the scope of that provision. In the only Supreme Court
decision considering such an argument, the Court held that the statute gave “the President ample
power to establish a naval blockade” to prevent Haitian migrants from entering the United States.
Sale, 509 U.S. at 187. Rather, courts have generally recognized that § 1182(f) provides the
President with a “sweeping proclamation power.” Abourezk, 785 F.2d at 1049 n. 2; see Haitian
Refugee Ctr., Inc. v. Baker, 953 F.2d 1498, 1507 (11th Cir. 1992) (stating that § 1182(f) provides
the President with “broad discretionary authority”); Allende, 845 F.2d at 1117-1118 (stating that
§ 1182(f) grants the President “vast power to exclude any individual alien or class of aliens
whose entry might harm the national interest”); Mow Sun Wong v. Campbell, 626 F.2d 739, 744
n.9 (9th Cir. 1980) (referring to § 1182(f) as an “extreme power”).
The text of the statute itself is similarly unhelpful for discerning its limit. As discussed
above, § 1182(f) does not impose a time limit on the President, stating that any restriction is “for
such period as he shall deem necessary.” 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f). The President can impose
restrictions on “any aliens or  any class of aliens.” Id. The President is not required to find that
entry would be detrimental to the nation’s security, only to its “interests,” a term that
encompasses any number of reasons. Id.
Nevertheless, Plaintiffs are correct that there must be some limit on § 1182(f) authority.
See, e.g., Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116, 129-30 (1985) (holding that a broad statute authorizing
the Secretary of State to issue passports under rules established by the President did not allow the
Secretary to deny passports to Communists due to constitutional considerations); Zemel v. Rusk,
381 U.S. 1, 7 (1965) (noting that statutes affecting foreign relations often “leave the exercise of
power to [the President’s] unrestricted judgment,” but that does not mean that the President has
“totally unrestricted freedom of choice”). For example, Plaintiffs persuasively argue that the use
of § 1182(f) to rewrite immigration law, such as to ban all family-based immigrant visas, would
likely go too far. But that line has yet to be drawn. Where the Proclamation does not clearly
run afoul of any identified limit on § 1182(f) authority with regard to nonimmigrant visas, the
Court cannot find that Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits of this claim.
Because Plaintiffs’ statutory arguments do not support their requested relief in its entirety, the
Court must consider their constitutional claims.
Plaintiffs assert that the Proclamation’s ban on citizens from the Designated Countries is
the next step in a “clear and direct chain” that began with President Trump’s campaign promise
to ban Muslims from entering the United States and continued through EO-1 and EO-2. IRAP
Mot. Prelim. Inj. at 24. They argue that the Proclamation therefore violates the Establishment
Defendants first argue that Plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause claim summarily fails upon
application of the standard set forth in Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753 (1972). Under
Mandel, pursuant to Congress’s plenary power over immigration, courts review a claim that a
consular officer denied a visa in contravention of constitutional rights only to determine whether
there was a “facially legitimate and bona fide reason” for the denial, in which case the court will
not “look behind the exercise of that discretion.” Id. at 770 (rejecting a claim that the denial of a
visa to Mandel, a Marxist, violated the First Amendment rights of professors who invited him to
speak because the Government offered the facially legitimate reason that on a prior visit, Mandel
had engaged in activities outside the scope of his visa). Although Mandel involved the denial of
an individual visa, the Supreme Court extended the use of the “facially legitimate and bona fide”
standard to a categorical immigration determination in Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787 (1977), where
a father alleged that the INA’s grant of an immigration preference to illegitimate children based
on their relationship with their mothers, but not their fathers, violated the Equal Protection
Clause. Id. at 788-89, 795.
There are persuasive reasons to conclude that the Mandel standard does not apply to
Plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause claim. First, there is a more recent line of cases recognizing that
courts must not simply defer to the political branches when constitutional rights are at stake.
See Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 695 (2001) (emphasizing that in immigration matters, the
judicial branch is not required wholly to defer to the political branches because their plenary
“power is subject to important constitutional limitations”); Chadha, 462 U.S. at 940-41
(underscoring that even when another branch of government has “plenary authority,” courts may
still review whether that branch chose “a constitutionally permissible means of implementing
that power”). Here, where the right at issue arises from the Establishment Clause, the Mandel
standard is a poor fit because the core harm of a violation of the Establishment Clause, as
opposed to the Free Speech Clause or the Equal Protection Clause, is not a limitation on an
individual’s right—whether to speak, listen, or be treated equally to another—but the
dissemination of a public message that the Government has adopted an official policy of favoring
one religion. A “facially legitimate and bona fide” standard designed to evaluate an individual
visa determination is therefore not compatible with a fair evaluation of that public message,
which necessarily requires some evaluation of the purpose behind the message. See Church of
the Lukumi Babalu Aye, 508 U.S. at 532 (stating that an Establishment Clause violation consists
of “an official purpose” to disapprove of a religion). Notably, the Supreme Court has not applied
the Mandel standard to an Establishment Clause claim.
Nevertheless, in light of the Fourth Circuit’s application of Mandel to its review of EO-2,
see IRAP, 857 F. 3d at 588-91, Plaintiffs do not seriously contest, and this Court accepts, the
applicability of Mandel. The Court then looks to the concurring opinion of Justice Kennedy in
Kerry v. Din, 135 S. Ct. 2128 (2015), to understand the distinction between “facially legitimate”
and “bona fide.” See Marks v. United States, 430 U.S. 188, 193 (1977) (“When a fragmented
Court decides a case and no single rationale explaining the result enjoys the assent of five
Justices, the holding of the Court may be viewed as that position taken by those Members who
concurred in the judgments on the narrowest grounds.”) (citation omitted). An action is “facially
legitimate” if there is a valid reason for it on the face of the action. Din, 135 S. Ct. at 2140-41
(Kennedy, J. concurring). An action is “bona fide” if there has been no “affirmative showing of
bad faith” by the decisionmaker. Id. at 2141. Based on Din, this Court concludes that if there is
a particularized showing of bad faith, a court should then “look behind” the action to evaluate its
justification. Id. at 2040-41; see also IRAP, 857 F.3d at 590-91.
Here, the Proclamation states that the President, pursuant to § 1182(f) and § 1185(a), is
suspending entry into the United States of nationals from the Designated Countries “to protect
the security and interests of the United States and its people.” Procl. pmbl. This national
security interest is a facially legitimate reason for the actions set forth in the Proclamation, to the
extent authorized by those statutes. See Din, 135 S. Ct. at 2140 (Kennedy, J. concurring).
Plaintiffs, however, assert that the Proclamation’s proffered national security rationale is
not the true motivation behind the restrictions, but is instead a pretext for an anti-Muslim bias.
In support of their assertion of bad faith, Plaintiffs, as part of their challenge to EO-2, previously
offered President Trump’s statements during his presidential campaign calling for a “Muslim
ban”; his statements that he would fulfill his campaign promise of a Muslim ban by focusing on
territories rather than religion; EO-1, adopted without agency consultation, which targeted only
majority-Muslim countries and contained preferences for religious minorities within those
countries; and statements of President Trump and his advisors that EO-2 had the same policy
goals as EO-1. Plaintiffs also pointed to the continued focus in EO-2 on countries with majorityMuslim populations, and what they asserted was a lack of correlation between the stated national
security aims of EO-2 and the mechanisms outlined to achieve it.
Based on these facts, this
Court concluded that the primary purpose for EO-2 was to effect the equivalent of a Muslim ban.
IRAP, 241 F. Supp. 3d at 560, 562-63. The Court now reaffirms that finding for purposes of the
In their challenge to the Proclamation, Plaintiffs link it to this history of bad faith by
noting that the Proclamation is the specific result of the President’s directive in EO-2 that
agencies develop a list of countries to be subject to a travel ban. They have supplemented the
previous factual record with statements by President Trump since the injunctions against EO-2
were entered urging a return to and a toughening of the travel ban. They again note what they
see as the misalignment between the stated national security goals of the ban and the means
implemented to achieve them.
They also assert that the Proclamation continues
disproportionately to affect Muslims, despite the inclusion of two non-Muslim majority nations
on the list of Designated Countries. This combined record provides facts that plausibly allege
with sufficient particularity an affirmative showing of bad faith in the stated rationale for the
Proclamation. Din, 135 S. Ct. at 2141 (Kennedy, J., concurring).
Having found that Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the Government’s stated, facially
legitimate, reason for the Proclamation is not bona fide, this Court “look[s] behind” that stated
reason. See id. at 2040-41. The Court thus turns to a traditional constitutional analysis, in this
case by applying the traditional tests for evaluating an Establishment Clause claim.
Zadvydas, 533 U.S. at 695; Chadha, 462 U.S. at 940-41; see also IRAP, 857 F. 3d at 590-91.
The First Amendment prohibits any “law respecting an establishment of religion,” U.S.
Const. amend. I, and “mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and
between religion and nonreligion,” Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968). When a
government action does not differentiate among religions on its face, courts apply the test
articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), to evaluate an Establishment Clause
challenge. See Hernandez v. C.I.R., 490 U.S. 680, 695 (1989). Under Lemon, to withstand an
Establishment Clause challenge (1) an act must have a secular purpose, (2) “its principal or
primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion,” and (3) it must not “foster
‘an excessive government entanglement with religion.’” Id. at 612-613 (quoting Walz v. Tax
Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 674 (1970)). All three prongs of the test must be satisfied. Edwards v.
Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 583 (1987).
As the first prong of the Lemon test makes clear, in Establishment Clause cases, “purpose
matters.” McCreary Cty. v. Am. Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 545 U.S. 844, 866 n.14 (2005).
Thus the purpose test is not satisfied by the identification of any secular purpose. McCreary, 545
U.S. at 865 n.13. Such a rule “would leave the purpose test with no real bite, given the ease of
finding some secular purpose for almost any government action.” Id. (“[A]n approach that
credits any valid purpose . . . has not been the way the Court has approached government action
that implicates establishment.” (emphasis added)).
Although governmental statements of
purpose generally receive deference, an identified secular purpose must be “genuine, not a sham,
and not merely secondary to a religious objective.” Id. at 864. Further, if a religious purpose for
the government action is the predominant or primary purpose, and the secular purpose is
“secondary,” the purpose test has not been satisfied. Id. at 860, 862-65; see also Edwards, 482
U.S. at 594 (finding a violation of the Establishment Clause where the “primary purpose” of the
challenged act was “to endorse a particular religious doctrine”).
An assessment of the purpose of an action is a “common” task for courts. McCreary, 545
U.S. at 861. An “understanding of official objective” can emerge from “readily discoverable
fact” without “any judicial psychoanalysis” of the decisionmaker. Id. at 862. In determining
purpose, a court acts as an “objective observer” who considers “the traditional external signs that
show up in the text, legislative history, and implementation of the statute, or comparable official
act.” McCreary, 545 U.S. at 862 (quoting Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 308
Because “the world is not made brand new every morning,” McCreary, 545 U.S. at
866 (quoting Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at 315), the Court must also consider the “historical context” of
a challenged action and the “specific sequence of events” leading up to it. Edwards, 482 U.S. at
594-95. Such evidence is “perfectly probative” and considering it is a matter of “common
sense,” because when determining purpose, courts are “forbid[den] . . . ‘to turn a blind eye to the
context in which [the] policy arose.’” McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866 (quoting Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at
This Court previously applied the Lemon test to EO-2 and found that it likely failed the
purpose prong because there was substantial direct evidence that the travel ban was motivated by
a desire to ban Muslims as a group from entering the United States. IRAP, 241 F. Supp. 3d at
560, 562-63. In making this factual determination, the Court relied largely on a record of public
statements made by President Trump and his advisors before his election, before the issuance of
EO-1, and after the decision to issue EO-2. Id. at 558-59, 562, 564. See Green v. Haskell Cty.
Bd. of Comm’rs, 568 F.3d 784, 801 (10th Cir. 2009) (considering quotations from county
commissioners that appeared in news reports in finding that a Ten Commandments display
violated the Establishment Clause); Glassroth v. Moore, 335 F.3d 1282, 1282, 1284-85, 1297
(11th Cir. 2003) (finding an Establishment Clause violation based on a record that included the
state chief justice’s campaign materials, including billboards and television commercials,
proclaiming him to be the “Ten Commandments Judge”).
That record revealed that on December 7, 2015, while still a Republican primary
candidate, Trump posted a “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration” on his campaign
website “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until
our representatives can figure out what is going on.” J.R. 85. Then in a March 22, 2016 Fox
Business interview, Trump reiterated his call for a ban on Muslim immigration, explaining 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. 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. After becoming the Republican presidential nominee, Trump
clarified his plans for a Muslim ban. In a July 24, 2016 interview on Meet the Press, Trump
asserted that immigration should be immediately suspended “from any nation that has been
compromised by terrorism.” J.R. 219. When questioned whether his new formulation was a
“rollback” of his call for a “Muslim ban,” he described it as an “expansion” and explained that
“[p]eople were so upset when I used the word Muslim,” so he was instead “talking territory
instead of Muslim.” J.R. 220.
Within a week of taking office, President Trump issued EO-1. Upon signing it, 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. The next day, Mayor Giuliani asserted
on Fox News 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 explained that, after consulting
with others, he 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. 247-48.
EO-1 mirrored this rhetoric. It suspended for 90 days the immigrant and nonimmigrant
entry into the United States of aliens from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen,
all countries where the vast majority of the population is Muslim. The stated purpose of this
suspension was to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals
admitted to the United States.” EO-1 pmbl. EO-1 cautioned that this threat required the United
States to be “vigilant during the visa-issuance process,” a process that “plays a crucial role in
detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.” EO1 § 1. However, EO-1 contained no facts tying the seven banned countries to any particular
terror threats or to any visa-issuance failures. EO-1 also expressly drew distinctions based on
religion, requiring that refugee claims on the basis of religious persecution be prioritized for
individuals who were members of a minority religion in their country of nationality.
EO-1 was issued without traditional interagency consultation.
abbreviated process, the similarity between the provisions of EO-1 and the public statements
about the form the promised Muslim ban would take, the express references to religion within its
text, and the lack of any articulated connection between the scope of the ban and particular
national security threats, this Court concluded, in resolving the motion for a preliminary
injunction against EO-2, that there was a “convincing case” that the purpose of EO-1 was “to
accomplish, as nearly as possible, President Trump’s promised Muslim ban” through a policy of
restricting entry of nationals of predominantly Muslim countries deemed to be dangerous
territory. IRAP, 241 F. Supp. 3d at 558-59. This Court reaffirms this finding for purposes of the
That conclusion echoed the determination of the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Virginia, which had enjoined EO-1 on Establishment Clause grounds. Aziz,
234 F. Supp.3d at 730, 737-38 (quoting from a July 17, 2016 interview during which thencandidate Trump, upon hearing a tweet stating “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are
offensive and unconstitutional,” responded “So you call it territories. OK? We’re gonna do
territories.”). Similarly, in reviewing a TRO halting EO-1, the Ninth Circuit opined that an
Establishment Clause claim as to EO-1 raised “serious allegations” and presented “significant
constitutional questions.” Washington, 847 F.3d at 1168.
EO-2 followed only six weeks after EO-1. EO-2 again instituted a 90-day suspension of
entry from Designated Countries. However, EO-2 removed Iraq from the list of Designated
Countries, which was otherwise the same, exempted certain categories of individuals from the
ban, and delineated other categories of individuals who might be eligible for a case-by-case
waiver. It also removed the preference for refugees from religious minorities and contained no
express mention of religion. EO-2 contained a more fulsome factual predicate for its stated
national security purpose, asserting that there is a heightened risk that individuals from the
Designated Countries will be “terrorist operatives or sympathizers” because each Designated
Country is “a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist
organizations, or contains active conflict zones,” such that their governments will therefore be
less willing or able to “share or validate important information about individuals seeking to
travel to the United States.” EO-2 § 1(d).
EO-2 required that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the
Secretary of State and the DNI, conduct a “worldwide review to identify whether, and if so what,
additional information” would be needed from each foreign country to adjudicate a visa
application and determine that the applicant is not a security threat. EO-2 § 2(a). A report on
that review was to be submitted 20 days after the effective date of EO-2. Then, the Secretary of
State was to begin a 50-day process of requesting that foreign governments bring their practices
into compliance with any of the report’s recommendations. After that period, the Secretary of
Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of State and the DNI, was to “submit to
the President of 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.” EO-2 § 2(e). This review and recommendation plan
(collectively, the “DHS Review”) was largely unchanged from a comparable review process
contained in EO-1.
In public statements, the Trump Administration repeatedly emphasized that EO-2 was, in
substance, the same as EO-1. On February 16, 2017, before EO-2 was issued, Stephen Miller,
Senior Policy Advisor to the President, characterized the changes made as “mostly minor
technical differences” and asserted that the “basic policies are still going to be in effect.” J.R.
319. When EO-2 was signed on March 6, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
emphasized that “[t]he principles of the [second] executive order remain the same” as those of
EO-1. J.R. 118. EO-2 itself explicitly stated that changes from EO-1, particularly the addition
of exemption and waiver categories, were made to address “judicial concerns.” EO-2 § 1(i).
Considering EO-2 in this context, this Court concluded that despite the modifications
from EO-1 and the removal of any reference to religion, the history of public statements
“continued to provide a convincing case that the purpose of EO-2 remains the realization of the
long-envisioned Muslim ban.”
IRAP, 241 F. Supp. 3d at 559.
In so finding, the Court
determined that the core policy outcome of a ban on entry of nationals from the Designated
Countries remained intact, that EO-2 continued to have the same practical mechanics of a
Muslim ban by another name that President Trump had so publicly described, and that the
national security rationale, under the circumstances, represented at most a secondary purpose for
the travel ban. Id. at 559-60, 562-63. This Court accordingly found that the Plaintiffs were
likely to succeed on their claim that EO-2 violated the Establishment Clause. Id. at 560, 564; see
also IRAP, 857 F.3d at 601. The Court reaffirms this finding for purposes of the present
It is against this backdrop that the Court must now assess the likelihood of success of
Plaintiffs’ claim that the Proclamation violates the Establishment Clause. Because “reasonable
observers have reasonable memories,” past Establishment Clause violations are relevant to the
assessment of present government actions. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866, 874. See Santa Fe
Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 315 (2000) (rejecting the argument, in a case involving
successive school-prayer policies, that adoption of a new, facially neutral school-prayer policy
“insulates the continuation of such prayers from constitutional scrutiny,” because any such
inquiry “must include an examination of the circumstances surrounding its enactment”). When
faced with allegations of a successive Establishment Clause violation, a court must thus not lapse
into the role of “an absentminded objective observer,” but must instead remain “familiar with the
history of the government’s action and competent to learn what history has to show.” McCreary,
545 U.S. at 866. Here, where EO-1 and EO-2 were each likely to violate the Establishment
Clause, and the third iteration, the Proclamation, was issued close on their heels—within nine
and six months, respectively—it is “common sense” that the Proclamation stands in their
shadow. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 855, 869-72, 874 (evaluating the purpose of a third proposed
display of the Ten Commandments in light of two prior proposals made within the course of a
However, past actions do not “forever taint” present ones. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 874.
While courts should reject an “implausible claim that governmental purpose has changed,” they
should also “take account of genuine changes in constitutionally significant conditions.” Id. The
Supreme Court has not articulated what kind of changes are necessary to obviate the taint of a
prior Establishment Clause violation. On this point, Felix v. City of Bloomfield, 841 F.3d 848
(10th Cir. 2016), cited by Defendants, is instructive. In Felix, the United States Court of Appeals
for the Tenth Circuit stated that “it is possible that a government may begin with an
impermissible purpose, or create an unconstitutional effect, but later take affirmative actions to
neutralize” the Establishment Clause violation. Id. at 863. In assessing “whether curative effects
are sufficient to overcome an objective observer’s impression” of an impermissible
Establishment Clause violation, governmental curative actions would have “not only to
persuasively present a primary nonreligious effect, but also to disassociate the [government
action] from its previous religious effect.” Id. Specifically, the governmental cure should be (1)
“purposeful,” (2) “public,” and (3) “at least as persuasive” as the initial Establishment Clause
The Government argues that the Proclamation does not violate the Establishment Clause
because unlike EO-2, it is based on a worldwide review by the Acting Secretary of Homeland
Security of information-sharing practices and other factors relevant to the visa issuance process.
A comparison of the two orders reveals certain changes that support this argument. First, the
Proclamation describes the review process conducted in advance of the Proclamation’s issuance,
which included consideration of baseline criteria for assessing available information relevant to
the visa issuance process, an assessment of each country against those factors, the consultation
with foreign governments to increase compliance, and recommendations on restrictions for
countries whose compliance remains inadequate. Procl. §§ 1(e), (f). Second, the Proclamation
also alters the list of Designated Countries. In EO-1 and EO-2, all the banned countries were
majority-Muslim; the Proclamation’s Designated Countries include two non-majority Muslim
North Korea and Venezuela.
Like EO-2, the Proclamation includes certain
exceptions and authorizes case-by-case waivers, but its restrictions are more finely tuned, with
distinctions made for most of the Designated Countries as to particular kinds of visas subject to
Defendants also emphasize that the Proclamation makes no express distinctions based on
religion. As with EO-2, the fact that, within the four corners of the document, there is no explicit
distinction among countries based on religion does not end the inquiry. Establishment Clause
violations can arise from facially neutral government action. See Bd. of Educ. of Kiryas Joel
Vill. Sch. Dist. v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687, 699-702 (1994); cf. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye,
508 U.S. at 534, 542 (holding that a facially neutral city ordinance prohibiting animal sacrifice
and intended to target the Santeria faith violated the Free Exercise Clause because “the Free
Exercise Clause, like the Establishment Clause, extends beyond facial discrimination” and action
targeting religion “cannot be shielded by mere compliance with the requirement of facial
neutrality”). As in Kiryas Joel, where a facially neutral delegation of civic power to “qualified
voters” of a village predominantly comprised of followers of Satmas Hasidism was deemed to be
a “purposeful and forbidden” violation of the Establishment Clause, a simple check on the
demographics of the geographic area affected by the Proclamation, with a combined population
that is predominantly Muslim, reveals that its impact closely aligns with religious affiliation.
Kiryas Joel, 512 U.S. at 699-702.
Likewise, the inclusion of two non-majority Muslim nations, North Korea and
Venezuela, does not persuasively show a lack of religious purpose behind the Proclamation. The
Venezuela ban is qualitatively different from the others because it extends only to government
officials, and the ban on North Korea will, according to Department of State statistics, affect
fewer than 100 people, only a fraction of one percent of all those affected by the Proclamation.
In short, the inclusion of Venezuela and North Korea in the Proclamation has little practical
The Court must therefore still assess whether, as has occurred in other
Establishment Clause cases, the insertion of these countries was “a litigating position” rather
than an earnest effort to “cast off” the prior “unmistakable” objective. McCreary, 545 U.S. at
871-72 (finding that the addition of secular texts to a Ten Commandments display did not
remedy a prior Establishment Clause violation).
As with EO-2, the Court must consider not whether the Proclamation has stated a nonreligious purpose for the travel ban, but whether that purpose is, in fact, the primary purpose for
the travel ban, rather than a purpose secondary to the religious animus that the Court has found,
and continues to find, to be the primary purpose for the EO-2. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 860, 862-
The Court also considers whether the governmental curative action since EO-2 was
purposeful, public, and “at least as persuasive as the initial endorsement of religion.” Felix, 841
F.3d at 863. At the outset of this analysis, the Court notes that, on its face, the Proclamation is
not entirely independent of the President’s history of public advocacy for a Muslim ban. In a
July 24, 2016 interview on Meet the Press, then-candidate Trump, when asked about his
proposed “Muslim ban,” responded by stating that “[w]e must immediately suspend immigration
from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting
mechanisms have been put in place.” J.R. 219-20. When asked if this formulation represented a
“rollback” of the Muslim ban, President Trump answered that it was an “expansion,” noting that
he was now “looking at territories” because “[p]eople were so upset when I used the word
Muslim.” J.R. 220. President Trump’s characterization of the Muslim ban on that occasion, as a
suspension of immigration until vetting mechanisms have been implemented, appears to mirror
the contours of the Proclamation.
Likewise, the permanent travel ban imposed by the
Proclamation was forecast at the time of EO-1 and EO-2. On January 30, 2017, three days after
issuing the 90-day ban under EO-1, ostensibly for the purpose of conducting an internal review
of vetting procedures, President Trump seemed to predict the results of that review, stating,
“we’re going to have a very, very strict ban.” J.R. 123. Shortly after the issuance of EO-2,
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.
Upon consideration of the text of EO-1, EO-2, and the Proclamation, there are substantial
reasons to question whether the asserted national security purpose has now indeed become the
First, the underlying architecture of the prior Executive Orders and the
Proclamation is fundamentally the same. Each of these executive actions bans the issuance of
immigrant and nonimmigrant visas on the basis of nationality to multiple majority-Muslim
countries on the basis of concerns about terrorism. The Proclamation does not abandon this
fundamental approach, but rather doubles down on it, because rather than imposing a temporary,
90-day travel ban, the Proclamation establishes an indefinite travel ban, which is subject to
periodic review, but which would become permanent in the absence of additional action.
Although the Government frames the Proclamation review process as an independent
action that has cured any taint from EO-2, a close read of EO-1 and EO-2 reveals that the
outcome of the DHS Review was at least partially pre-ordained. It is undisputed that the DHS
Review was conducted pursuant to the President’s directive, contained in both EO-1 and EO-2,
mandating a review of information-sharing practices, but that directive also telegraphed the
Specifically, EO-2 instructed that the Secretary of Homeland
Security “shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion in a
Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of appropriate categories of foreign
nationals.” EO-2 § 2(e), see EO-1 § 2(e) (omitting the phrase “appropriate categories of”). This
language does not permit the Secretary to recommend that no nationality-based travel ban is
necessary. The language of EO-2 thus indicates that the President had decided, even before the
study had been conducted, that regardless of the results, some nationals would be subject to a
travel ban. Where EO-2 contemplated and planned for the very type of travel ban imposed by
the Proclamation, the Proclamation cannot be framed as an independent product of bureaucratic
Moreover, a comparison of EO-2 with the Proclamation reveals that many of the criteria
considered in the DHS Review, and used to justify the ban on specific countries in the
Proclamation, were substantially similar to those used to select the list of countries banned by
EO-2. EO-2 explained its choice of countries by noting that some or all were “a state sponsor of
terrorism,” had “been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations,” and made it difficult
for the United States to deport their nationals because they “typically delay issuing, or refuse to
issue, travel documents.” EO-2 § 1(d). These factors largely track the “National security and
public-safety risk assessment” factors considered in the DHS Review, which include whether a
country is a “known or potential terrorist safe haven” and “fails to receive its nationals subject to
final orders of removal from the United States.” Proclamation § 1(c)(iii). Likewise, EO-2
ostensibly selected banned countries in part because country circumstances diminished “the
foreign government’s willingness or ability to share or validate important information about
individuals seeking to travel to the United States,” a consideration that encompasses many of the
“Identity-management information” and “National security and public-safety information”
criteria used as the baseline for the DHS Report. Id. § 1(c)(i)-(ii).
Many of EO-2’s specific findings about banned countries are also substantially the same
as those described in the Proclamation. For example, EO-2 noted as one factor in banning Iran
that it “regularly fails to cooperate with the United States Government in identifying security
risks,” EO-2 § 2(e)(i), while the Proclamation concluded that “Iran does not cooperate with the
United States in counterterrorism efforts,” Procl. § 2(b) (i). EO-2 justified the ban on Somalia in
part because “most countries do not recognize Somali identity documents,” EO-2 § 2(e)(iii), one
of the same factors used to justified the Somali ban in the Proclamation, see Procl. § 2(h)(i). In
both orders, the ban on Syria is justified in part by the fact that Syria is a state sponsor of
terrorism and does not cooperate with the United States in addressing security or terrorism risks.
This substantial overlap between EO-2 and the Proclamation in terms of the criteria considered
and applied in identifying countries to ban undermines the characterization of the Proclamation’s
determination to impose a travel ban as the product of an independent evaluation unconnected to
the earlier, tainted travel bans, and further suggests that many of the results may have been preordained. Where the President ordered the submission of a list of countries to be banned, and the
criteria used to arrive at that list substantially aligned with those he applied to generate the list of
banned countries in the tainted EO-2, it is not surprising that agency officials acting in good faith
could and did propose a similar list of countries to be banned in the Proclamation.
Some of the specific determinations made in the Proclamation, by deviating from the
general findings of the DHS Review, also undermine the argument that the Designated Countries
were selected by an independent process completely untethered to the President’s earlier
statements advocating for a Muslim ban. For example, although the Proclamation’s travel ban is
purportedly designed to combat deficient information-sharing practices, Somalia, which was
found to have adequate information-sharing practices, is nevertheless on the list of Designated
Countries and is subject to a ban on all immigrants from that nation. Somalia is a majorityMuslim country that was included in the list of Designated Countries in both EO-1 and EO-2.
Venezuela, meanwhile, a non-majority Muslim nation, was determined to have inadequate
information-sharing practices, to have at least one national security risk factor, and to not reliably
receive its nationals slated for deportation. Despite these deficiencies, only officials of the
Venezuelan government are barred from entry. Thus, by its own terms, the Proclamation did not
simply rely on the results of an objective information-sharing review but instead made certain
subjective determinations that resulted in a disproportionate impact on majority-Muslim nations,
and a greater alignment with the travel ban of EO-2, than would otherwise flow from the
objective factors considered in the review. Moreover, the exception given to Venezuela serves to
reveal that information-sharing deficiencies do not necessarily warrant a broad, nationality-based
That fact brings into relief a continued lack in the Proclamation, as in EO-1 and EO-2, of
facts establishing that a broad nationality-based travel ban is justified by possible failures in the
visa-issuance process and the terrorist and public safety threats that the Proclamation’s ban is
meant to thwart. While the President’s findings may meet the low bar of “detrimental interest,”
8 U.S.C.§ 1182(f); see supra part II.A.2, they do not explain why the broad travel ban is
necessary in a way that convincingly demonstrates that its primary purpose is now unrelated to
religious animus. As discussed above, a nationality-based travel ban against eight nations
consisting of over 150 million people is unprecedented. Since the enactment of § 1182(f), only
two of the 42 invocations of that authority have sought to bar entry based on nationality, and in
those cases only against a single nation and in response to a specific diplomatic dispute with that
nation. See Exec. Order No. 12,172, 44 Fed. Reg. 67947; Exec. Order No. 12,206, 45 Fed. Reg.
24,101; Proclamation No. 5,517, 51 Fed. Reg. 30,470. Such a ban was not even imposed after
the September 11, 2001 attacks. Furthermore, while EO-1 and EO-2 sought to justify the travel
ban based on prior acts of terrorism involving nationals of the Designated Countries, Defendants
offer no evidence, even in the form of classified information submitted to the Court, showing an
intelligence-based terrorism threat justifying a ban on entire nationalities; rather, the
Proclamation relies primarily on the lack of information sharing from the Designated Countries.
Numerous distinguished former national security officials have attested to the unique nature of
this travel ban and the lack of a discernible national security rationale for it, including any
rationale that would flow from information-sharing deficiencies. Notably, in the context of the
VWP, Congress as recently as 2015 examined this same issue and responded with legislation that
falls well short of any kind of nationality-based travel ban. See supra part III.A.3. Thus, the
Proclamation fails adequately to explain not the need to respond to information-sharing
deficiencies, but the need for the specific response of an unprecedented, sweeping nationalitybased travel ban against majority-Muslim nations.
The Court does not reference the record evidence showing the apparent disconnect
between the identified problem and the broad, nationality-based travel ban to evaluate the merits
of the travel ban as a national security matter. See Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561
U.S. 1, 33-34 (2010) (stating that generally, courts should afford deference to national security
and foreign policy judgments of the Executive Branch). Nor does it question that informationsharing deficiencies can have a national security impact and should be addressed. Rather, it
considers this context only to assess whether the Proclamation persuasively establishes that the
primary purpose of the travel ban is no longer religious animus. Based on the facts that the
Proclamation’s ban generally resembles President Trump’s earlier description of the Muslim ban,
EO-2 dictated the Proclamation’s outcome of a recommended list of nations to be subjected to a
travel ban, the criteria used to select countries were highly correlated with those used to select
the countries for EO-2, the terms of the Proclamation’s travel ban skew against Muslim nations
as compared to the objective measures applied in the DHS Review, and the proposed response
has not been adequately explained as a necessary one to the identified problem, the Court cannot
conclude that the Proclamation sufficiently offers a “purposeful” curative action that establishes
that the taint of EO-2 no longer underlies the travel ban. See Felix, 841 F. 3d at 863.
To the extent that the Government might have provided additional evidence to establish
that national security is now the primary purpose for the travel ban, it has not done so. It has not
offered classified information such as the September 15, 2017 DHS Report which, even though
not “public,” could have been submitted to the Court to explain the shift in purpose. Of course,
even if such evidence was forthcoming, its value in obviating the taint of the earlier Executive
Orders would be limited. As noted, in Establishment Clause cases, it is the opinion of the
reasonable observer that controls. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866 (quoting Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at
315). Purposes that can be discerned only if one “burrow[s] into a difficult-to-access” record do
little to “assure [the public] that the government is not endorsing a religious view.” Felix, 841 F.
3d at 863.
Beyond the Proclamation itself, Defendants have offered only one additional “public”
statement to bolster the case that the Proclamation is now cured of religious animus: a speech by
the President delivered in Saudi Arabia in May 2017 in which he made various positive
statements about Islam. See Felix, 841 F. 3d at 863. Such a statement, however, did not in any
way repudiate the President’s prior intention to impose a Muslim ban. Particularly where, in
August 2017, President Trump tweeted a statement that a method hostile to Islam—shooting
Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood—should be used to deter future terrorism, there is no
record of public statements showing any change in the President’s intentions relating to a
Rather, the only other available public statements not only fail to advance, but instead
undermine, the position that the primary purpose of the travel ban now derives from the need to
address information-sharing deficiencies. Even while interagency consultation regarding the
travel ban took place behind closed doors, another conversation continued in the public eye. The
day after EO-2 was enjoined, President Trump proclaimed at a rally that it had been a “watered
down version of the first one” that had been “tailor[ed]” by lawyers to respond to legal
challenges. J.R. 652-53. He suggested instead 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. In a June 3, 2017 tweet,
days after the Fourth Circuit’s opinion upholding this Court’s injunction against EO-2, President
Trump declared in a tweet that “We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” J.R. 662.
On June 5, 2017, President Trump tweeted 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 that “the Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered
down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!” J.R. 664. Then,
on September 15, 2017, the same day that the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security submitted
her report, President Trump again called for an expansion of the travel ban, tweeting 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.
Thus, while Defendants assert that the Proclamation’s travel ban was arrived at through
the routine operations of the government bureaucracy, the public was witness to a different
genealogy, one in which the President—speaking “straight to the American people,” J.R. 667—
announced his intention to go back to and get even tougher than in EO-1 and EO-2. Notably, the
June 5 tweet calling for a “much tougher version” reveals that even before President Trump had
received any reports on the DHS Review that ostensibly identified the need for a travel ban, the
first of which he received over a month later on July 9, 2017, the President had already decided
that the travel ban would continue. His September 15, 2017 tweet calling for a “far larger,
tougher” travel ban, issued the same day that that the final report was received, reinforced this
position. Against the backdrop of two prior Executive Orders that this Court and others have
deemed likely violated the Establishment Clause, see, e.g., Aziz, 234 F. Supp.3d at 739 and
Hawaii, 241 F. Supp. 3d at 1137-38, this Court is obligated to pay attention to such statements.
See McCreary, 545 U.S. at 866 (cautioning courts that they cannot become “an absentminded
objective observer,” but must instead remain “familiar with the history of the government’s
action and competent to learn what history has to show”). The reasonable observer using a
“head with common sense” would rely on the statements of the President to discern the purpose
of a Presidential Proclamation. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 874. Here, those statements do not offer
“persuasive” rejection of the President’s prior calls for a Muslim ban, or his stated intention to
use a ban on certain “dangerous territory” to effectuate a Muslim ban, Felix, 841 F.3d at 863, nor
do they show that the stated intention to impose a Muslim ban has been “repealed or otherwise
repudiated,” McCreary, 545 U.S. at 871-72. Rather, they cast the Proclamation as the
inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban, and, in echoes of McCreary, convey
the message that the third iteration of the ban—no longer temporary—will be the “enhanced
expression” of the earlier ones. Id. at 872.
The “initial” announcement of the Muslim ban, offered repeatedly and explicitly through
President Trump’s own statements, forcefully and persuasively expressed his purpose in
unequivocal terms. Under Felix, the Government’s cure must be made “as persuasively as the
initial” violation. Felix, 841 F.3d at 863. Here, the Court concludes that where the Proclamation
itself is not sufficiently independent of EO-2 to signal a purposeful, persuasive change in the
primary purpose of the travel ban, and there were no other public signs that “as persuasively” as
the original violation established a different primary purpose for the travel ban, it cannot find that
a “reasonable observer” would understand that the primary purpose of the Proclamation’s travel
ban is no longer the desire to impose a Muslim ban. See McCreary, 545 U.S. at 872 (finding that
a third version of a Ten Commandments display continued to have a primarily religious
purpose); Felix, 841 F. 3d at 863. The Court therefore finds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated
that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. Having reached
this conclusion, the Court need not address Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on their Equal
Protection Clause claim.
Having concluded that Plaintiffs have established a likelihood of success on the merits on
their § 1152(a) and Establishment Clause claims, the Court turns to whether they have shown a
likelihood of irreparable harm. The Supreme Court has held that “loss of First Amendment
freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”
Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976) (finding irreparable harm upon a violation of the
freedom of association). The Fourth Circuit has applied this holding to cases involving the
freedom of speech and expression. E.g., Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery Cty., 722 F.3d 184,
190, 191-92 (4th Cir. 2013); Legend Night Club v. Miller, 637 F.3d 291, 302 (4th Cir. 2011).
Although the Fourth Circuit has not held that a violation of the Establishment Clause likewise
necessarily results in irreparable harm, other circuits have. See, e.g., Chaplaincy of Full Gospel
Churches v. England, 454 F.3d 290, 303 (D.C. Cir. 2006); Ingebretsen ex rel. Ingebretsen v.
Jackson Pub. Sch. Dist., 88 F.3d 274, 280 (5th Cir. 1996); Parents’ Ass’n of P.S. 16 v. Quinones,
803 F.2d 1235, 1242 (2d Cir. 1986); Am. Civil Liberties Union of Ill. v. City of St. Charles, 794
F.2d 265, 275 (7th Cir. 1986) (finding irreparable harm in an Establishment Clause case and
stating that the “harm is irreparable as well as substantial because an erosion of religious liberties
cannot be deterred by awarding damages to the victims of such erosion”).
Here, as in Elrod, “First Amendment interests were either threatened or in fact being
impaired at the time relief was sought.” 427 U.S. at 373. “[W]hen an Establishment Clause
violation is alleged, infringement occurs the moment the government action takes place.”
Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, 454 F.3d at 303.
The Court accordingly finds that
Plaintiffs have established a likelihood of irreparable harm arising from their Establishment
Clause claim at the time the Proclamation takes effect.
The Court also finds that Plaintiffs with a family member seeking an immigrant visa have
established a likelihood of irreparable harm as a result of the Proclamation’s violation of the
INA. Irreparable harm occurs when the threatened injury impairs a court’s ability to grant an
effective remedy, such as a harm that cannot be compensated by money damages at a later trial.
See Hawaii, 859 F.3d at 782; see also 11A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2948.1 (3d ed. 1998).
The injury must be likely, not merely
speculative, in order to be considered irreparable. Wright & Miller, supra, § 2948.1. Without an
injunction, Plaintiffs will be subjected to imminent and irreparable harm as a result of the
prolonged separation from their family members caused by the Proclamation. Hawaii, 859 F.3d
at 782 (considering separation from family members in finding a likelihood of irreparable harm);
see also IRAP, 857 F.3d at 611-12 (Keenan, J., concurring). The absence of a family member
cannot be cured through a later payment of money damages, and is therefore irreparable. For the
same reason that Plaintiffs’ claims are ripe, the injury is not speculative, despite the
Proclamation’s waiver provisions. See supra part I.B. Thus, Plaintiffs have shown irreparable
harm as a result of the Proclamation.
Balance of the Equities
In balancing the equities, the Court considers the significant, irreparable harm Plaintiffs
would face both from the prolonged separation from family members and the Establishment
Clause violation. While Plaintiffs would likely face irreparable harm in the absence of an
injunction and would plainly benefit from an injunction, Defendants are not directly harmed by a
preliminary injunction preventing them from enforcing a Proclamation likely to be found
unconstitutional. See Newsom ex rel. Newsom v. Albemarle Cty. Sch. Bd., 354 F.3d 249, 261
(4th Cir. 2003); Aziz, 234 F. Supp.3d at 738.
At the same time, the Supreme Court has stated that “no governmental interest is more
compelling than the security of the Nation.” Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280, 307 (1981). Although
the Proclamation seeks to further information-sharing and diplomatic purposes, Defendants have
not shown that national security cannot be maintained without an unprecedented eight-country
travel ban. An injunction would not grant entry to any individual foreign national, but would
only preclude the use of a blanket ban. Even with an injunction, visa applicants from the
Designated Countries would be screened through the standard, individualized vetting process
under which the burden is on individual applicants to prove that they are not inadmissible to the
United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1361. An injunction would not shift or lessen that burden or prevent
the denial of any particular visa application. Thus, as a general matter, the balance of the
equities favors the issuance of an injunction.
However, in partially staying the injunction of EO-2, the Supreme Court noted that the
balance of equities varies depending on a foreign national’s strength of connection to the United
States. See Trump, 137 S. Ct. at 2088. For those individuals who lack “a credible claim of a
bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” the equities shift such that
Defendants’ interest in national security prevails over any harms resulting from the
Proclamation’s likely Establishment Clause or INA violations. See id. Accordingly, this factor
supports an injunction extending only to individuals with a bona fide relationship with an
individual or entity in the United States, as discussed below.
Preventing an Establishment Clause violation provides a significant public benefit. The
Supreme Court has recognized the “fundamental place held by the Establishment Clause in our
constitutional scheme.” Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 60 (1985). The Founders “brought into
being our Nation, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights with its prohibition against any
governmental establishment of religion” because they understood that “governmentally
established religions and religious persecution go hand in hand.” Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421,
432-33 (1962). When the government chooses sides among religions, the “inevitable result” is
“hatred, disrespect, and even contempt” from those who adhere to different beliefs. See id. at
Thus, to avoid sowing seeds of division in our nation, upholding this fundamental
constitutional principle at the core of our Nation’s identity serves a significant public interest.
The Court also finds that granting an injunction on the Proclamation’s violation of the
INA advances the public interest. Section 1152(a) represents a judgment by Congress that our
immigration policy should not discriminate on the basis of nationality. To the extent that this
judgment is undermined by the Proclamation, the public interest is furthered by an injunction on
Although the Government’s interest in national security is a significant public interest,
for the reasons discussed above, see supra part V, those interests are not paramount in this
instance. Accordingly, the Court finds that the public interest favors an injunction.
Scope of Relief
The Plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause and § 1152(a) arguments focused primarily on the
travel ban for citizens of the eight Designated Countries in Section 2 of the Proclamation. The
Court will therefore enjoin Section 2 only, subject to the following exceptions.
As discussed above, because the balance of equities favor Defendants as to visa
applicants with no ties to the United States, the injunction is limited to barring enforcement of
Section 2 against those individuals “who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a
person or entity in the United States.” Trump, 137 S. Ct. at 2088. For individuals, the injunction
covers visa applications by individuals with immediate family members, such as parents,
children, or siblings, as well as “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law,
aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States.” Id.; Hawaii v.
Trump, 871 F.3d 646, 658 (9th Cir. 2017) (clarifying the scope of the injunction against EO-2).
For organizations, the connection must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary
course” rather than for the purposes of evading the Proclamation. Trump, 137 S. Ct. at 2088.
For example, IRAP’s employee or an invited speaker for MESA’s annual meeting or IAAB’s
conference would qualify.
See id. (including a “lecturer invited to address an American
audience” and a “worker who accepted an offer of employment” within the scope of the
injunction). A member of MESA or another membership organization who formally joined the
organization before the date of the injunction and seeks to enter the United States for organized
activities or meetings of the association would also fall within its scope. See id. Pursuant to the
Supreme Court’s stay of the Ninth Circuit’s determination that a refugee with a formal
sponsorship assurance from a U.S. resettlement agency has a bona fide connection to the United
States, the Court concludes that clients of IRAP and HIAS, and those similarly situated, are not
covered by the injunction absent a separate bona fide relationship as defined above. See id. at
2088; Hawaii, 871 F.3d at 661-64 (finding that a refugee with a formal sponsorship assurance
from a U.S. resettlement agency has a bona fide connection to the United States); Trump v.
Hawaii, No. 17A275, 2017 WL 3975174 (Sept. 11, 2017) (staying the Ninth Circuit mandate
“with respect to refugees covered by a formal assurance”).
The injunction also will not apply to travelers from Venezuela or North Korea because
the balance of equities favors Defendants with respect to those two countries. Section 1152(a)
provides no basis to support an injunction relating to Venezuela because the Proclamation does
not bar immigrants from Venezuela. Given the extremely limited number of visas typically
issued to individuals from North Korea, Plaintiffs have neither argued nor shown how any
individuals from that nation with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United
States will be harmed by the § 1152(a) violation. Likewise, they have not shown how travelers
from Venezuela or North Korea would be harmed by the likely Establishment Clause violation.
Accordingly, the injunction will not apply to nationals of Venezuela or North Korea.
Finally, in light of the constitutional concerns associated with enjoining the President of
the United States, this injunction does not apply to the President and instead applies only to the
other Defendants and the federal officials who will actually enforce the Proclamation. See
Franklin, 505 U.S. at 800-01.
The injunction will apply nationwide. It is “well established” that a federal district court
has “wide discretion to fashion appropriate injunctive relief in a particular case.” Richmond
Tenants Org., Inc. v. Kemp, 956 F.2d 1300, 1308 (4th Cir. 1992); see also Texas v. United States,
809 F.3d 134, 188 (5th Cir. 2015) (holding that the “Constitution vests the District Court with
‘the judicial Power of the United States,’” which “extends across the country” (quoting U.S.
Const. art. III § 1)), aff’d by an equally divided court, 136 S. Ct. 2271 (2016). Injunctive relief
“should be no more burdensome to the defendant than necessary to provide complete relief to the
plaintiffs.” Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 702 (1979). However, nationwide injunctions
are appropriate if necessary to afford relief to the prevailing party. See id.; Richmond Tenants
Org., Inc., 956 F.3d at 1308-39; Texas, 809 F.3d at 188.
The Court has found that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claims that Section 2 of
the Proclamation violates the Establishment Clause and § 1152(a).
The Individual and
Organizational Plaintiffs are located in different parts of the United States, indicating that
nationwide relief may be appropriate. Richmond Tenants Org., Inc., 956 F.3d at 1309 (holding
that a nationwide injunction was “appropriately tailored” because the plaintiffs lived in different
parts of the country). Moreover, although the Government has argued that relief should be
strictly limited to the specific interests of Plaintiffs, an Establishment Clause violation has
impacts beyond the personal interests of individual parties. Joyner v. Forsyth Cty., 653 F.3d
341, 355 (4th Cir. 2011) (“[T]hese plaintiffs are not so different from other citizens who may feel
in some way marginalized on account of their religious beliefs and who decline to risk the further
ostracism that may ensue from bringing their case to court or who simply lack the resources to
do so.”); City of St. Charles, 794 F.2d at 275 (stating that a violation of the Establishment Clause
causes “harm to society”). Here, nationwide relief is appropriate because this case involves an
alleged violation of the Establishment Clause by the federal government manifested in
immigration policy with nationwide effect. See Decker v. O’Donnell, 661 F.2d 598, 618 (7th
Cir. 1980) (affirming a nationwide injunction in a facial challenge to a federal statute and
regulations on Establishment Clause grounds).
Nationwide relief is also warranted on the § 1152(a) claim, with respect to applicants for
immigrant visas, because under these facts, a “fragmented” approach “would run afoul of the
constitutional and statutory requirement for uniform immigration law and policy.” Washington,
847 F.3d at 1166-67. “Congress has instructed that the immigration laws of the United States
should be enforced vigorously and uniformly, and the Supreme Court has described immigration
policy as a comprehensive and unified system."
Texas, 80 F.3d at 187-88 (footnotes omitted).
Accordingly, Section 2 of the Proclamation, with the exceptions and to the extent described
above, will be enjoined on a nationwide basis.
For the foregoing
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
for a Preliminary
The Court will issue a preliminary injunction
barring enforcement of Section 2 of the Proclamation, subject to the terms stated in the separate
Date: October 17, 2017
THEODORE D. C
United States Distric
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