Joseph Doe and His Family Reunited Last Night After Injunction Granted Against Muslim Ban

News Release: 
Friday, January 19, 2018
Refugee Joseph Doe, plaintiff in an ACLU of Washington suit challenging the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban, was finally able to hug his wife and three children last night, ending four years of painful separation.  The family was reunited at SeaTac airport after a federal court in December granted a nationwide injunction against a ban that would have indefinitely prevented children and spouses from any country from joining refugees like Doe, who have already been admitted to the U.S.

“I am overjoyed to see my wife and children and to be together as a family again,” said Doe. “I am so grateful that the judge recognized my right to have my family join me here in the United States.”

“The government has tried to keep refugee families apart on the pretense of national security needs. But preventing four- and five-year-old children from being reunited with their father makes no sense and does nothing to make us safer,” said ACLU of Washington staff attorney Lisa Nowlin.
Joseph Doe and his wife and children were but one family caught up in the senseless and unlawful separation imposed by the Trump administration’s Muslim bans. 
Doe is a Somali national and legal permanent resident of the United States. 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. 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.  After he filed a petition to bring his family here, they went through exhaustive medical and security screenings by the U.S government. They were nearing the end of the rigorous screening process when President Trump issued his first attempted Muslim Ban in January 2017.  In the chaos and confusion caused by that ban and the second one attempted in March 2017, the reunification process for Doe’s family and others like his came to a halt. While Doe’s wife and children were stuck in limbo, their medical clearances expired, and they were forced to travel 500 miles to renew those clearances. The administration continued to issue versions of the ban in September and October 2017—despite a number of court rulings that the ban, no matter how it is disguised, is unconstitutional.  Doe’s separation from his family was prolonged and agonizing, made all the more cruel by the fact that his two youngest children were prevented from traveling because of their Somali citizenship, even though both were born in Kenya and have never even set foot in Somalia.
On December 23, in the ACLU’s suit Doe v. Trump, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a Preliminary Injunction that enjoined enforcement of the refugee portion of Trump’s most recent attempted Muslim ban.  It did so in recognition of the serious harm suffered by people like Doe, who have a right under the federal Immigration & Nationality Act 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 Trump administration has tried four times to impose its unconstitutional Muslim ban, the courts have blocked all four. We will continue to fight the administration every step of the way if it tries for a fifth,” said ACLU of Washington Legal Director Emily Chiang.

Doe v. Trump was filed on February 7, 2017, in federal court in the Western District of Washington.  Plaintiffs include a number of people whose lives have been directly impacted by the Muslim Ban and two organizations: the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Washington, whose work has been greatly impacted by the Order’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 ACLU-WA motion for a Preliminary Injunction in Doe v. Trump challenged different aspects of the Muslim Ban than those that are under challenge in litigation filed by various attorneys general in the District Court of Hawaii and by the ACLU in Maryland.
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.