New York City (Feb. 17, 2017) — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) on Friday joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Korematsu Center), the children of litigants in the Japanese relocation and incarceration cases from World War II, civil rights organizations, and national and New York bar associations of color, in filing an amicus brief in Darweesh and State of New York v. Trump, pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The amicus brief supports a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13769 (Jan. 27, 2017), which suspends the U.S. refugee admissions program for 120 days, indefinitely halts the admission of Syrian refugees, and bans immigrant and nonimmigrant entries for at least 90 days for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The petitioners in Darweesh allege that this Executive Order violates the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The amicus brief asserts that courts can and should review executive branch actions on immigration. The “plenary power doctrine” justifying deference to the executive branch is based on a string of overtly racist cases decided by the same court that upheld segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson. During World War II, the federal government falsely invoked “national security” to justify the incarceration of Japanese Americans by executive order. Those arguments should have been rejected then, and they should be rejected now — the 9th Circuit and the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia have already done so.
The next court hearing in the Darweesh case is scheduled for February 21, 2017. Akin Gump is pro bono co-counsel on the amicus brief.