Saturday, January 28, 2017

Random Thoughts On this Working W-End: On The Executive Order by President Trump & The Actions to Oppose it

I began today with a sense of purpose as I joined the Point-in-Time Survey to identify the homeless.  I began around 4:30 AM in the morning as I rushed to San Clemente to join a team as we began to make the walk to identify the homeless by interviewing them and then giving them a care kit and a coat to help them stay warm.     I was at a Community Event the night before as I was witness to selfless souls who have the pleasure to call friends were honored for their service to Scouting.

As I was working away, I was keeping tabs on the simmering Tsunami that was developing in the aftermath of one of President Trump's latest Executive Orders:  The one on Executive Action.    As I first got wind of it thanks to the team at +NIAC , I was needless to say horrified.      As we all prepared to see what it entailed, it was clear that it confirmed our worst fears.     I helped finish off some columns for the Daily Outsider as I also began virtually pounding the pavement as I saw stories across my social media feed and doing my part.  As I saw this, I made sure to reach out to close members of my family who are US Permanent Residents to make sure that they did not leave the United States under any circumstances for the foreseeable future.

As I was working away, I released this on my Facebook Wall:

I am still numb as I work away.    The stories of families broken apart is just absolutely heartbreaking.  I was glad to see efforts by the Huffington Post and others throughout Social Media to help amplify the human tragedy this has brought.    Despite the revulsion I have for the Islamic Republic, I concur with one key point Javad Zarif, The Foreign Minister made, when he noted that this move by Donald Trump is a gift to the Jihadists.  I also concur with Hassan Rouhani's comments that now is not the time to build walls.  

What was gratifying to be witness to is how the Iranian-American Community has reacted.  The Iranian American Bar Association issued this on the Executive Order which is a crucial read for all lawyers and laymen:

One week into his presidency, Mr. Trump took the first step towards making good on one of his most controversial and discriminatory campaign promises: a ban on Muslims entering into the country. Today, Mr. Trump issued an Executive Order ("EO") temporarily banning nationals of seven Muslim majority countries from entry into the U.S., based on little else other than their nationality and religious beliefs. The highlights of the EO are as follows:
1- A total ban will be placed on entry of nationals (immigrants and nonimmigrants) of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, for at least 90 days, while a review of visa admissions is conducted;
2- During the review period, it will be determined what additional information is needed from the listed countries to resume admissions of their foreign nationals; and if the country in question does not (or cannot) cooperate, the ban can remain in place indefinitely, or until they do;
3- Admissions of refugees from the listed countries will be halted for at least 120 days while a review of the refugee admissions program is conducted, with exception of Syria, whose refugee admissions has been halted indefinitely; during this period, the only refugees permitted will be "minority faith members" fleeing religious persecution (i.e. non-Muslims fleeing Muslim countries) on a case-by-case basis and only if it is determined to be in the U.S.' national interests;
4- The 120 day refugee freeze may be extended and, even after resumption of admissions, priority in admissions will continue to be given to "minority faith members" fleeing religious persecution (i.e. non-Muslims);
5- Completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the U.S. will be expedited;
6- A suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program will be put into place for non-immigrant visas of the nationals in question;
7- Adjudications of other immigration benefits besides visas could be impacted.
Put simply, this EO bans people from entering the U.S. solely on the basis of their religious beliefs and nationality; and prohibits entry into the U.S. of some of the most vulnerable people in the world - refugees escaping war, destruction, and famine - on the same discriminatory basis.
One of the most disturbing elements of the EO is the scope of the ban. Department of Homeland Security representatives have already said that it applies even to permanent residents (i.e. green card holders) who have left the country. And it is as yet unclear if Iranian dual nationals are affected, but it is very likely that they will be. So, for example, a German citizen of Iranian descent may be entirely prohibited from entering into the U.S. while the order is in effect, whereas a German citizen of any other minority descent would be permitted. Mere hours later, the effects of the ban have reverberated throughout the world (for one news story, out of dozens, click here).
Given that the EO's express purpose is to detect and stop people with terrorist ties from entering the U.S., this order is necessarily based on a single assumption: that the nationals of the listed countries, and the followers of the Muslim faith within those countries, are all potential terrorists...individuals who are inherently dangerous and pose a threat to the U.S. If this notion does not sit well with you, or is offensive, you are not alone. It has been refuted not only by nearly every major organization supporting civil liberties in the U.S. (and abroad), but also by the Republican Party membership during the recently concluded presidential campaign (such as now Vice President, Mike Pence, and current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan - both of whom denounced a ban on immigrants based on religion during then-president-elect Trump's campaign).
Let us, for a moment, set aside the practical considerations of such a law, such as the wasted resources spent on screening millions of people with no connection to terrorism, or the faith/ideological based tests required to enforce it.
As lawyers, we all took the same oath as Mr. Trump: to uphold the Constitution and the laws of this U.S. One of our highest principles - and one of the most cherished promises of the Constitution - is that all people will be treated equally before the law regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, or religion. As the gate keepers of those covenants, we cannot allow our government to ban or deport people based on their religion or country of origin. We are, and must, be better than this.
This EO effectively writes discrimination based on nationality and religious beliefs into the law. And it confirms fears by many that the divisive rhetoric we witnessed during the presidential campaign is not only coming to life, but is leading to a path of devastating policies - one of the first steps towards state-sanctioned bigotry by an administration whose advisors, during their presidential campaign, cited the Japanese internment as legal precedent for creating a Muslim registry.
This is not a time for sitting and waiting. Many of you, including many who attended the IABA National Conference, asked what you can do to help. This is your opportunity. It is the moment for collective action. If, as members of the bar and bench, we do not act now, we will have no one to blame when a Muslim registry or something worse follows.
With the foregoing in mind, IABA urges you to take 15 to 30 minutes out of your lives to take as many of the following steps as possible:
Call and write your local officials (simply run a search for your local mayors and council men/women, express your concerns, and ask them to issue statements on this issue).
Call and write your federal representatives to express your alarm at this law, and ask them to speak out against it or introduce legislation to refute or minimize it. You can find your House of Representative members here; and your senators here. You can also call (202) 224-3121.
Sign onto email campaigns. There are some groups who have already started such campaigns, such as NIAC.
Share this news with your friends and family via email or social media, get the word out, and encourage them to do the same.
Donate to your organizations of your choice working on this issue. For IABA you donate here.
For those of you with more time, and truly wishing to give back with your law degree, get involved:
If you have expertise with constitutional or immigration law, and are interested in exploring and working on a legal challenge to this EO, please send an email to:
We need attorneys to go to the US international airports and provide assistance to detained nationals from the 7 countries listed on the visa ban list. If you're interested, please email us at and we will send you more location specific information
We know that there is a lot of ongoing confusion about this EO, and its effects on your, your families', and your friends' lives. We will follow up with additional emails to provide you more information.
We will also continue to monitor this situation and work hard behind the scenes, both independently and in coordination with other Iranian-American and other minority groups and bar associations.
Please stay tuned.  

The IABA National Board

Note:  For all who wish to document a case, please click here. 

The despair is evident I picked up notations from two very successful Iranian Americans, Soheila and Amir,  that I have the privilege to call friends.    I have the privilege to share Soheila's Notations Below:

If the current laws applied 12 years ago I could have never come to the United States. If today's laws were in place 6 years ago, I could have never come back home from a trip abroad. I would have never known some of you who are now my best friends.
Today, families are being torn apart as a result of the recent Executive Order. People's lives are at stake. Even I don't feel safe as a first-generation American, because now I'm treated like a second class citizen. And far far far away from equal.
Today, my daily life quite literally involves solving America's problems. All I'm concerned with are policies that will make this country better and that can improve its international image. That's literally what I do while I'm trying to become more and more integrated and be the informed and engaged citizen that this country needs. I am working my ass off to contribute to the wellbeing of all American people, whom I have the pleasure to call fellow Americans, but I'm not sure they're happy to call me that back!
Quite honestly, this is not just about the administration in power. This is about a mindset, an inhrent fear of immigrants and especially Iranians. The Administration is just riding on that fear. This is sad. Unfortunate. Ironic even, given the contributions of immigrants, and Iranian Americans to the United States.
I was born in one country, raised in another, and chose California as my home. I believe that what has made America great is that it is the land of immigrants. The best and brightest from around the world. The most patriotic even. So search within your soul, you may be politically correct, but is your heart there too?
I don't know whether or not you stand by me and people like me today. But this is a test for you on how American you are. And how you may inherently equate American with just being White or having no accent. And I'm not in a place to make that judgement. You are.
The issue of immigrants aside, I have an Iranian issue. I'm sick and tired of being profiled because of my Iranian heritage. I am proud of my ethnicity. I am proud of the culture I was raised in. I love the country I grew up in. And I shouldn't have to hide it. I shouldn't have to explain myself about my choices and feelings. About who I am. YOU should learn to be less ignorant and YOU should know better than to use shows like 24 and Homeland as supplement to education. You should know better that the junk media you consume has framed me as the evil that I am not. You have been programmed to fear me. I can't change that. You can.
The issue of immigrants aside, banning visas for anyone from Iran sends a clear message: we are at war with you, the people. We hate (fear) you. Not a single f'n terrorist attack in the US, killing people, was carried out by an Iranian. In other words, if Iranians were banned to come to the US before 9/11, the tragedy would still happen, San Bernardino would still happen. The list of terrible things that would still happen goes on. Because Iranians were not even involved in any of that. Iranian artists, students, professionals coming to the U.S. impose zero threat to anyone.
I'm broken and hurt today. I'm tired. Consumed. But tomorrow, I will rise again and fight the fight for all of us. This is our country, and I take it upon myself to help make it a better place. I'll make it a better place for you too, despite the fact that you don't trust me. And I will do that as a proud Iranian American.

Here are Amir's Notations:

I was once a refugee as well. I came to this country when I was 5 to escape Iran in the middle of the Iran-Iraq War. Under then President Reagan, the State Department granted me and my family entry into the US. I served this country honorably as an officer in the US Army, an intelligence officer and later as a State Dept official supporting American diplomacy overseas. Had this latest blanket ban on refugees and visas been issued back then, I would have never made it here. Right now there are families halted at airports all over the world. We can be safe and be kind at the same time.

In contrast to what the United States did, Canada opened it up its' door yet again.    As I reflected upon the past 24 hours, I only took comfort in this:


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