Apr 29, 2017


Charlottesville Legal Aid Justice Center files lawsuit against Trump

Organization representing two brothers detained, deported from Dulles


The Legal Aid Justice Center of Charlottesville.

The Legal Aid Justice Center of Charlottesville is filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his recently enacted immigration ban.

The firm is representing two brothers, Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, who are from Yemen.

Customs and Border Protection officials detained the Aziz brothers at Dulles International Airport Jan. 28 and forced them to return to Ethiopia, which is where their flight originated from.

The brothers were deported in response to the executive order entitled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order prohibits refugees and non-American citizens traveling from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

An affidavit filed by attorney Shahin Fallah described the situation in Dulles airport, in which individuals who arrived from any of the listed nations were diverted into a waiting area, had their passports and greencards confiscated and were unable to ask questions or use their telephones.

According to the complaint filed in court, the Aziz brothers were granted lawful permanent resident status by virtue of their immediate relation to their father, who is a U.S. citizen.

Additionally, the brothers were in possession of immigrant visas — entry documents that allow individuals into the United States to become permanent residents.

“If you’ve received an immigrant visa, that means you’ve passed through the threshold to become a permanent resident,” said Doug Ford, Law School professor and immigration attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center. “Permanent residents haven’t yet become citizens and they don’t have the right to vote, but they have the majority of your basic constitutional procedural rights.”

Immediately following the enactment of the executive order on Jan. 27, there was confusion regarding whether it applied to holders of green cards and immigrant visas. A federal judge issued an order on Jan. 28 temporarily barring the deportation of people traveling from nations included in President Trump’s ban. The White House responded hours later with a statement declaring that holders of valid visas would not be affected by the executive order.

“The [Aziz] brothers were some of the first ones who flew in [Saturday], and they were already turned around back to Ethiopia … before the judge's order came down,” Ford said.

The Charlottesville Legal Aid Justice Center has taken on representing the brothers in Aziz, et al v. Trump, arguing they were illegally deported and entitled to permanent residence in the United States.

“We filed an amended complaint, basically against the government — the executive branch — saying that they should return the Aziz brothers and similarly situated individuals,” Ford said. “In the specific case of these brothers, we think they’re entitled to permanent residence.”

The suit argues the brothers and others in similar situations were deported before visa holders were determined to not be affected by the order. It also represents 50 to 60 other lawful permanent residents like the Aziz brothers who were detained in Dulles Airport. According to the filed complaint, legal permanent residents were barred from exiting the airport and denied access to lawyers.

Ford said he considers people in possession of immigrant visas entitled to permanent residence, noting the thorough screenings and legal process they have to go through to get to that point.

“They’ve passed through the screens and thresholds,” Ford said. “So these people had been through extensive screening, had met the qualifications and requirements to become permanent residents and were on their way here — and it’s just the final stamp that they get when they come through.”

The state of Virginia has since motioned to join as a plaintiff in the case against Trump. 

Published February 3, 2017 in News

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