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May 25, 2017

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling is a Victory for American Ideals

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s ruling that upholds an injunction blocking President Trump's executive order banning travelers from six majority-Muslim countries.

"We are very pleased that the court of appeals sees this executive order for what it is: an attempt at religious intolerance cloaked inthe language of national security," said Human Rights First's Hardy Vieux. “The court’s ruling is another major victory for American ideals and the rule of law, making clear that the actions of the president in denying entry are subject to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution."

The Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit today upheld the preliminary injunction against implementation of Section 2(c) of the President Trump’s revised executive order, which bars entry of nationals from six Muslim Majority Countries for a minimum of 90 days. The majority opinion cites limits to executive power when it comes in conflict with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution stating, "Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across the country...Even without focusing on any campaign rhetoric, the record in this case amply demonstrates the primary purpose of [the second executive order] was to ban Muslims from entering the United States in violation of the Establishment Clause.” 

Human Rights First continues to call on the Trump Administration to withdraw this discriminatory order, and to refrain from attempts to block resettlement or entry of Muslims or otherwise discriminate based on religion or nationality.    

The world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with over 60 million people displaced. From its pro bono representation of refugees seeking asylum in this country, Human Rights First has witnessed the devastating impact implementation of this executive order would have on people from their targeted countries. Even as this ban sowed fear and dismay among the affected communities, including refugees who fear that their separation from their spouses and children stranded abroad will become permanent, the rulings of the courts, and the massive popular mobilization in support of equality before the law and refugee protection, have helped to restore the trust in our laws and our system of government that led many of our clients to seek refuge in the United States in the first place. 

By seeking to ban refugees and nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, the executive order and its predecessor harmed rather than help U.S. national security. Former U.S. military leaders and former U.S. national security officials, who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations, have urged that “Welcoming refugees, regardless of their religion or race, exposes the falseness of terrorist propaganda and counters the warped vision of extremists,” and that “religious bans and tests are un-American and have no place in our immigration and refugee policies.” In a June 2016 Statement of Principles on America’s Commitment to Refugees, a bipartisan group of former national security officials stressed that, “Accepting refugees, and encouraging other countries to do so, advances U.S. interests by supporting the stability of our allies struggling to host large numbers on their own.”

For more information or to speak with Vieux contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org.