Veterans for American Ideals Files Amicus Brief Against Immigration Ban Affecting U.S. Allies

Washington, D.C.—Today Veterans for American Ideals, a project of Human Rights First, filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi man who served alongside U.S. military personnel. Darweesh was detained upon entry into the United States following President Trump’s executive order that bans travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, a suspension of the refugee resettlement program for 120 days, and an indefinite bar on refugees who have fled Syria.

Veterans for American Ideals filed the amicus along with veteran organizations No One Left Behind, Vote Vets, and Common Defense, with the pro-bono assistance of Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff and Abady LLP. Darweesh’s case is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

“Veterans, who have served in the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other U.S. enemies, are personally and deeply aware that American military efforts depend on local allies from Iraq and the other six countries covered by the Executive Order,” the brief outlines. “Based on their experience on the ground, these veterans are convinced that a ban on all nationals from the countries designated in the Executive Order is contrary to the American ideals that they fought for and will endanger U.S. troops.”

The executive order suspended priority resettlement and special immigrant visas (SIV) for Iraqis who risked their lives to work with the American military, government, or other American entities as translators, engineers, security guards, embassy clerks, logisticians, and cultural advisors. The order could also impact Afghan SIV recipients—interpreters and others who help U.S. forces in Afghanistan—if that country were added to the list. These men and women and their families now face grave threats for working to advance U.S. interests.

It has been reported that the Department of Homeland Security will provide exemptions for Iraqis with SIV visas, but it is unclear whether the exemption also applies to thousands of Iraqis who worked with the U.S. government and other U.S. entities who have been waiting for resettlement through a priority processing program created for them by Congress.

“There are thousands of Iraqis who worked with Americans who we cannot leave behind. The executive order—effectively a Muslim ban—will make make protecting America’s national security more difficult. This irreparably harms relations with countries whose cooperation and alliances we depend on,” said Human Rights First’s Scott Cooper, founder of Veterans for American Ideals.


Published on February 16, 2017


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