Federal Court Rejects Government Request to Stay Injunction Against Trump Policy Banning Admission of Refugees to U.S.

News Release: 
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
In another rejection of the Trump Administration, the U.S. District Court in Seattle today denied a government motion to stay a nationwide Preliminary Injunction the Court issued on Dec. 24, 2017, against an administration policy that indefinitely barred certain refugees from entering the U.S. Previously, on January 5, the Court rejected a government motion to reconsider the Preliminary Injunction.
The action came in the case Doe v. Trump, which the ACLU filed on February 7, 2017.  Plaintiffs include a number of people, including Washington resident Joseph Doe, whose lives have been directly impacted by the Muslim Ban and two organizations: the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Washington (CAIR-WA), whose work has been greatly impacted by the ban’s violation of the First Amendment’s establishment of religion clause; and the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, whose efforts to fulfill its religious mission of serving refugees have been severely harmed by the ban.
“The Court today said that the government has to take necessary actions to address the harms done by its policy, which, among other things, prevented refugees already in the U.S. from being joined by their spouses and children. We are very hopeful that Joseph Doe and his family will be reunited in the very near future, after being separated for four years,” said Lisa Nowlin, ACLU of Washington Staff Attorney.
Plaintiff Joseph Doe is a Somali national and legal permanent resident who is married and has three children. When he was a child, he and his family fled Somalia’s violent civil war to escape persecution and the risk of being killed because of their clan membership. While trying to reach safety, they spent weeks in the forest without food, and fighters from one of the warring factions found them and raped his older sister in front of him and his family. She was pregnant and bled to death from the assault. Eventually, Doe and his surviving family members made it to Kenya, where he spent nearly 22 years living in refugee camps.
Doe finally arrived in the U.S. as a refugee in January 2014 but had to leave his wife and children in Kenya—because his application was initiated when he was still a child. He filed a petition for them to join him after he arrived here but has now been separated from his family for almost four years. His family has already gone through exhaustive medical and security screening by the U.S government but they have been living in limbo since Trump’s first Executive Order on Immigration was issued in January 2017.    
While Doe, now a legal permanent resident, supports his family through his full-time job at a warehouse, the continued separation has caused both him and his family tremendous distress.  He regularly talks to his family on the phone.  His youngest son, now four years old, constantly cries for him, asking, “Where are you? Why can’t you come for us?”
“The Administration’s policy is ripping apart families and heartlessly keeping refugees who have survived traumatic situations from reuniting with loved ones,” said Enoka Herat, ACLU of Washington Police Practices and Immigrant Rights Counsel.
Under the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), which is a federal statute created by Congress, people admitted to the U.S. as refugees have a right to be reunited with their spouses and children as long as they satisfy the government’s rigorous vetting process, which often takes two years to complete.
The ACLU-WA case was consolidated with another case challenging the Muslim ban brought by the International Refugee Assistance Project, the National Immigration Law Center, HIAS, and others on behalf of Jewish Family Service of Seattle (JFS) and other plaintiffs.
Representing the Plaintiffs are ACLU-WA Legal Director Emily Chiang and staff attorney Lisa Nowlin; and ACLU-WA cooperating attorneys Lynn Lincoln Sarko, Tana Lin, Amy Williams-Derry, Derek Loeser, Alison Gaffney, Laurie Ashton, and Alison Chase of Keller Rohrback L.L.P.