June 29, 2017
Iranian American Organizations Denounce State Department Travel Ban Guidelines
Joint Statement of the Pars Equality Center, the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)
WASHINGTON, DC - As organizations representing the Iranian American community, we denounce the new guidelines for the revised Travel Ban issued by the State Department on Wednesday night.
Following the Supreme Court’s June 26th, decision to move the Travel Ban forward while exempting those who can “credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” the State Department’s guidelines ban extended family including grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and fiancées from entering the country.
Extended family is the lifeblood of all immigrant groups. This restrictive notion of family will deter people who continue to contribute to the United States and make America their home.
Iranian Americans, a community that President Trump himself has called one of the most “successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history,” has been significantly and adversely impacted by the Travel Ban. Out of the six Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban, Iran alone reportedly accounts for more than half of legal entrants to the United States, many of whom visit to see their families and loved ones.
Banning grandparents from visiting their grandchildren does not make America safer. Neither does it make sense to separate fiancés who seek to be reunited to begin their lives together. The Travel Ban has already disrupted family visitation and emergency medical care for loved ones, putting lives at stake. Treating our American communities as second-class citizens is un-American at its core and does absolutely nothing to protect the United States.
The Iranian American community stands up for civil rights and liberties, and we will remain vigilant in responding to measures that unfairly target our community. All four organizations along with individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Federal court in Washington, D.C. to stop the travel ban and its negative impacts on the immigrant population in the United States – “Pars Equality v. Donald J. Trump et al.” For more information, go to endthetravelban.com.
June 29, 2017
The U.S. Supreme Court Allows Implementation of Parts of the Executive Order/Travel and Refugee Ban
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and consolidated two key cases in the travel and refugee ban litigation: Trump v. IRAP and Trump v. Hawaii. The case will be heard during the first session of the October 2017 term.
In addition to granting certiorari, the Supreme Court granted a partial stay of the injunctions that had been preventing implementation of the travel ban [Section 2(c)], the refugee ban [Section 6(a)], and the refugee cap [Section 6(b)].
It likely will not be clear until the case is heard by the Court in October when the government’s self-imposed time frame for reviewing the vetting procedures began, expired or was arguably tolled.
The Court ruled as follows:
• Travel and Refugee Ban: The Court left in place the injunctions with respect to the plaintiffs in both cases and others in similar situations. It explained that, “[i]n practical terms, this means that [the travel and refugee bans] may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” (emphasis added). However, all other foreign nationals are subject to the EO.
• Refugee Cap: The Court held that a refugee with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity may not be excluded, even if the 50,000 cap on refugees has been reached or exceeded.
- Bona Fide Relationship with a Person in the United States: The Court noted that the facts of the cases at hand illustrate the type of relationships that would qualify as bona fide, stating, “For individuals, a close familial relationship is required.” The Court stated that an individual who seeks to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member, such as a spouse or mother- in-law, “clearly has such a relationship.”
- Bona Fide Relationship with an Entity in the United States: With regard to entities, the Court stated, “the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2.” The Court specifically stated that students who have been admitted to a U.S. university, a worker who has accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. company, or a lecturer invited to address a U.S. audience would have such a relationship. The Court stated that a relationship with a U.S. entity or individual that was entered into for the purpose of avoiding the travel ban will not be recognized as bona fide.
It appears the government will implement the permitted parts of the ban within 72 hours of the Court ruling.
DHS states that implementation “will be done professionally, with clear and sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers, and in coordination with partners in the travel industry.”
On Wednesday, June 28, a cable from the Department of State was issued to embassies and consulates providing guidance in response to the Supreme Court decision. The following individuals will be excluded from the travel ban:
- U.S. citizens
- Green card holders (LPRs)
- Current visa holders
- Any visa applicant who was in the U.S. as of June 26
- Dual nationals
- Anyone granted asylum
- Any refugee already admitted to the U.S
- Foreign nationals with a “bona fide” family, educational, or employment/business tie to the U.S. What qualifies as a “bona fide” familial relationship:
- Adult son or daughter
- Son-in-law, daughter-in-law
***The cable indicates the following relationships do NOT constitute a “bona fide” familial relationship: grandparent, fiancée, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, brother-inlaw/sister-in-law, or other “extended family.”
*The same criteria apply to refugees awaiting approval for admission
*Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked (it has been confirmed the EO will not affect persons who arrive at ports of entry with legitimate travel documents)
*The EO also permits the issuance of a visa to anyone who would otherwise be excluded on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of DHS and Dept. of State.
April 5, 2017
Pars Equality Center joins a coalition of Iranian American Organizations on a statement about the detention of Iranians by U.S. authorities
Washington, DC – As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned by recent arrests of Iranians visiting and studying in the United States.
At least two Iranians are currently being held in custody by U.S. immigration authorities: Alia Ghandi and Mohammad Salar Fard-Hajian. We implore authorities to ensure these individuals have ready access to legal counsel and insist they be promptly released from custody.
Ghandi, who traveled to Oregon on a valid tourist visa to visit her sister (a U.S. citizen), was refused entry by customs officers and instead arrested and sent to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Washington. Ghandi has subsequently claimed asylum but remains in custody despite an obligation by U.S. authorities to allow her the opportunity to present her case and remain in the U.S. until she is heard.
Mohammad Salar Fard-Hajian, an Iranian student living in Dearborn, Michigan, was arrested at home and is being held in Calhoun County Jail in Battle Creek, Michigan. Fard-Hajian’s roommate believes he was arrested due to administrative errors regarding his college enrollment status.
It is impossible for us to simply write-off all of these events as mere coincidence or misunderstanding in the current climate. The recent spate of official policies and actions – beginning with President Trump’s first executive order to bar entry for Iranians and nationals of six other countries – are deeply troubling. Coupled with recent incidents of hate directed at Iranians and persons of Middle Eastern descent, including recent reports of graffiti targeting Iranians in Portland and San Francisco, a disturbing trend is emerging.
As members of the Iranian-American community, we are active contributors to society who – like all other Americans – are entitled to live in peace and without fear of discrimination. As members of the Iranian diaspora, we are proud of our heritage and have deep connections to our ancestral homeland. We are committed to proactively engaging to protect the interests of our community and the values of this country. We encourage community leaders, lawmakers, as well as the President to take these concerns seriously so that everyone’s rights are protected.
Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)
Iranian American Bar Association (IABA)
National Iranian American Council (NIAC)
Pars Equality Center
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)
March 15, 2017
IRANIAN-AMERICAN ORGS FILE FEDERAL COURT CHALLENGE TO TRUMP TRAVEL BAN 2.0
Complaint Outlines Devastating Impact of Travel Ban on Iranian-American Families
Washington, DC—Four prominent Iranian-American organizations renewed their challenge to the Trump Administration’s illegal and unconstitutional policies, filing papers to take on the President’s revised “Travel Ban” Executive Order. The organizations, joined by over 20 individual plaintiffs, have updated their existing lawsuit against the January 27th Travel Ban Executive Order, Pars Equality, et al v. Trump, to take on the March 6th version.
“From separating families to disrupting the education of college and law students to harming our small businesses, the Trump Administration’s revised travel ban creates irreparable harm for Iranian-American families,” said Cyrus Mehri, Iranian-American civil rights lawyer and founding partner of Washington, DC-based firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, who represents the plaintiffs. “We hope our lawsuit shows that the capricious nature of the Travel Ban and its destructive impact on the Iranian-American community undercuts democracy at home and abroad and makes America less safe.”
The plaintiffs-- Pars Equality Center, Iranian American Bar Association, National Iranian American Council, and Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans-- have amended their February 8th complaint and asked the District of Columbia federal court to enjoin the Trump Administration’s March 6 Executive Order restricting travel to and from the United States and Iran and five other predominantly Muslim nations. The latest filing includes approximately 25 declarations, which provide a unique and compelling factual record on the ongoing harm to the Iranian-American community as a result of this discriminatory policy since its enactment on January 27th.
The declarations which will be filed today show how the Trump Travel Bans have caused irreparable injury to the Iranian-American community continuously from January 27 to date through actions including:
Wreaking havoc on Iranian American families: The declarations include accounts of wedding plans being disrupted, of families being forced to disconnect from each other, and medical conditions worsened by the Travel Ban.
Disrupting the Academic, Research and Student Communities: The declarations highlight disruption to college, graduate and law students of Iranian descent - which not only stymie their own education but erode their academic, research and other contributions to U.S. universities.
Weakening U.S. Businesses and U.S. Economy: The Iranian-American community has contributed mightily to U.S. businesses, technology and innovation. The declarations provide examples of immediate harm to U.S. business interests and individuals of Iranian descent who have strengthened the U.S. economy but are now sidetracked by the Travel Bans.
Harm to Refugees: The declarations show examples of harm to refugee applicants seeking safety for themselves and their families.
Harm to U.S. Democracy: The capricious nature of the Travel Ban and its destructive impact on the Iranian-American community undercuts democracy at home and abroad and makes America less safe.
The declarations bring to life the discrimination and hurtful stigma caused by the Travel Bans. The relief sought in Pars Equality goes beyond the preliminary injunction achieved by Washington State.
In addition to Mehri, Pars Equality is prosecuted by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and pro bono counsel, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer (“APKS”).
The Iranian-American community has been significantly and adversely impacted by the travel ban. Among the six nations singled out by the Travel Ban, Iran had the largest total number of legal entrants into the U.S. (310,182) between 2006 and 2015; two-thirds of those entrants arrived in the United States on temporary visas.
To learn more about the lawsuit or to add your name, visit endthetavelban.com.
February 28, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: hristy Setzer, firstname.lastname@example.org or Aurora Matthews, email@example.com, 301-221-7984
Iranian-American Orgs on Rise in Hate Crimes: Time for Leaders to Condemn These Incidents
WASHINGTON, DC – Today four Iranian American organizations released the following statement following a series of violent incidents that have recently taken place with the intention to target Americans of Iranian descent.
- In the Kansas bar shooting last week that took the life of one man of Indian descent and seriously injured two others, the assailant has allegedly declared his intention to shoot “Iranians.” He had reportedly told the two Indian men he was targeting, who he thought were Iranian, “Get out of my country,” before he opened fire.
- In another incident, an Iranian American woman reported vandalism outside her San Francisco apartment in the form of spray painted swastikas and reference to the infamous Nazi doctor, Mengele, known as the “Angel of death."
- These and other incidents are part of a larger pattern of recent hate crimes against actual or perceived Muslims in the U.S., such as “obscene and hateful graffiti” on the outside walls of an Islamic Center (the Tarbiya Institute) in Roseville, California; or a fire set to a mosque in Victoria, Texas.
“As Iranian American organizations, we have been sounding the alarm on the divisive rhetoric against immigrants, spurred by the harmful and discriminatory effects of the Trump Administration’s Executive Order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries – including Iran – from entering the United States.
“We are deeply disturbed by a series of violent incidents that have recently taken place with the intention to target Americans of Iranian descent. These types of crimes do not target individuals but entire communities and our core national values. When violence and xenophobia is accepted, and encouraged, in the name of national security, it should be no surprise that some people will go out and express their views violently.
“We call on all elected officials and law enforcement personnel at all levels of government to ensure that the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans, including Iranian Americans, are fully protected. We encourage Iranian Americans to share their experiences with local, State, and Federal elected officials as well as others in their community to end stereotypes, correct misconceptions, and convey instances of abuse. “All four of our organizations have filed a lawsuit in Federal court in Washington, D.C. to stop the travel ban and its negative impacts on the immigrant population in the United States – “Pars Equality v. Donald J. Trump et al.” For more information, go to endthetravelban.com
Feb 14, 2017
Complaint for Declaratory And Injunctive Relief
In an effort to address the unlawful and unfair travel ban issued by the Administration, Pars Equality Center, PAAIA, IABA and NIAC joined together in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the Administration’s Executive Order. We felt such measures were necessary to protect our community, and in the interest of justice for all in the United States. The matter has been filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. For more information please click here.
Feb 9, 2017
Iranian-American Organizations File Federal Lawsuit Against Trump Travel Ban Executive Order
Joint Statement of the Pars Equality Center, the Iranian American Bar Association, the National Iranian American Council, and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans. To read more, please click here.
Nov 2, 2016
Pars Equality Center's New Pars Generation+ Program Hosts Election Day ART & CULTURE MIXER at the Cambria Gallery in San Francisco
We are excited to announce that the SFGate has featured the program and the upcoming event! To read more about the program, please click here.
Oct 25, 2016
Make Sure Iranian Americans Are Counted!
A coalition of Iranian American organizations, including Pars Equality Center, are advocating for the inclusion of a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) category that includes a designated option for “Iranian” in chronicling federal data on ethnicity. To learn more, please click here.