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Georgetown Law Library

A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States

This guide offers a history of various movements by citizens in the United States to gain political and social freedom and equality. It highlights resources available through the library and also offers a list of current civil rights organizations.

The Trump Travel Ban

UPDATE: February 20, 2018

On February 15, 2018 in the case of International Refugee Assistance Project v Trump the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the third iteration of the executive order banning travel from multiple Muslim-majority countries.  However, the Supreme Court's decision on October 24, 2017 supersedes the 4th Circuit's ruling. 

All court challenges to the Trump Travel Ban can be found at the Civil Rights Litigation Clearing House. 

UPDATED: October 25, 2017

On October 24th, 2017, upon the expiration of the President's initial executive order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority countries,  the US Supreme Court ruled the issue moot and disposed of the appeals relating to the initial travel ban.

UPDATED: October 17, 2017

On October 17, 2017 the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued an order blocking the implementation of Presidential Proclamation 9645.  See International Refugee Assistance Project v Trump (October 17, 2017).

On the same date, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i granted a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the Proclamation 9645.  See State of Hawai'i v Trump (October 17, 2017).

UPDATED: September 25, 2017

On September 24, 2017 the President issued a the Presidential Proclamation 9645 Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.

As reported by CNN the newest iteration of the travel ban institutes travel restrictions for Libya, Chad, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, and North Korea.   These restrictions are indefinite and give consular offices the power to waive the restriction on travel on a "case-by-case" basis; additionally, the Proclamation is not a blanket ban, but rather defines restrictions based upon the country.  For example, emigration from North Korea and Syria, as well as non-immigrant travelers from these countries, are banned, while non-immigrant travelers from Somalia can enter the United States, but will be subjected to "enhanced screening and vetting."

The Proclamation will go into effect on October 18, 2017.

UPDATED: June 29, 2017

On June 26, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court allowed some aspects of President Donald Trump's travel ban proceed. In a per curiam decision the Court granted certiorari and ruled on the lower courts' injunctions, allowing a ban against foreign nationals who do not have a connection to the United States to go into place. 

Justices Thomas, Alito, and  Gorsuch agreed in part and dissented in part.  The decision can be read here.

A New York Times article, Stepsister, Yes; Grandma, No: U.S Sets Guidelines for Revised Travel Ban, published on June 29, 2017 explicates the practical result of the Supreme Court's decision.

UPDATED: March 30, 2017

On March 29, 2017 U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson of the U.S. District Court in Hawai'i extended the Court's order to delay implementation of the revised Executive Order.  This cases's documents can be found here.

UPDATED: March 16, 2017

On March 15, 2017 Judge Derrick Watson of the U.S. District Court in Hawai'i granted a motion for a temporary restraining order that will cease the implementation of the revised travel ban. Judge Watson asserted that despite the facially neutral wording of the revised Executive Order the actual intent of the Order is to bar from entry people of a specific religious group, which is unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause. Judge Watson's decision can be found here.

On March 16, 2017 Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the U.S. District Court of Maryland issued a preliminary injunction against implementation of the revised Executive Order based upon a similar argument as that provided in the Hawai'i decision by Judge Watson. Judge Chuang's decision can be found here.

UPDATED: March 15, 2017

In response to the revised executive order issued on March 6, 2017 multiple states and individual plaintiffs have filed suit against the Trump administration in an attempt to block the implementation of the executive order.  

The state of Hawai'i is arguing that the ban will harm the state's public university system, as well as the state's tourism industry. The state of Washington argues that the injunction levied against the original ban should apply to the revised ban as the revised ban maintains the same policies as the original. Hawai'i et al filed to resume litigation of the earlier case. This suit is being joined by the states of Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, California, and Oregon.  See State of Hawai'i v Trump (D. Haw.) Case can be found here.

In Wisconsin, a Syrian immigrant was granted a temporary restraining order in order to allow for the processing of his family's asylum petitions.  See Doe v Trump (W.D. Wis.) Case available here.

In Virginia, multiple plaintiffs, along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, brought suit and requested a preliminary injunction against the executive order. See Sarsour v Trump (E.D. Va.) Case available here.

In Maryland, the International Refugee Assistance Project, with multiple co-filers, has argued that a preliminary injunction should be ordered due to the executive order's unconstitutionality and its discrimination of certain groups of people based on the "demeaning of one religious group." See International Refugee Assistance Project ("IRAP") v Trump (D. Md.) Case available here.

The University of Michigan's Law School continues to update its page on court actions related to the executive orders via the Civil Rights Clearinghouse

UPDATED: March 6, 2017

On March 6, 2017 Trump signed a revised executive order that limits immigration from majority-Muslim countries.  Unlike the original ban, which was signed on January 26, 2017, the new ban excludes six countries (compared to seven previously), does not go into immediate effect, and does not include preferential treatment for Christians. 

The new order pertains to Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Syria. Irag has been dropped from the list of countries.  The order will be in force starting March 16, 2017.  The ban also does not apply to people who are legal permanent residents (green card holders) and only blocks the issuance of new visas starting on March 16th.  Theoretically, people with valid visas issued before March 16th will be allowed into the United States.  

The new executive order caps refugee immigration to 50,000 visas.  The U.S. refugee program will also be halted for 120 days in order for the administration to put into place "extreme vetting" measures. 

UPDATED: February 13, 2017

During the week of February 6, 2017 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a series of raids in multiple states, leading to approximately 600 arrests of person in the United States without documentation. ICE has stated that the raids are a continuation of standing operations that are implemented a few times a year. Raids were conducted during the Obama administration; however, these raids focused on undocumented persons who had been arrested for violent crimes and other felonies. ICE has acknowledged that it is casting a "wider net than they would have last year." The current raids continued the policy of arresting and deporting those persons with violent crime or felony convictions, but it also included those persons who had orders of deportation, but who remained in the country, as well as those persons who were in compliance with ICE requirements.

Trump claimed responsibility for the raids, Tweeting at on February 12, 2017 that the "crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise."

UPDATED: February 9, 2017

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling of U.S. District Judge James Robart '73 in a per curiam decision. You can read the decision here. From this point, the Justice Department, representing the Trump administration, would have to appeal to the Supreme Court to intervene.

UPDATED: February 8, 2017

On February 7, 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on a motion to appeal the lower Ninth Circuit ruling halting the implementation of the executive order banning the entry of persons from seven majority-Muslim countries.  Reporting on the oral arguments can be found here and here.

Multiple states and tech companies have submitted briefs in support of the position of Washington and Minnesota.  These briefs can be found at the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.  The recording of the oral arguments, and other procedural documents, are available on the Ninth Circuit's website.  See below for other links of interest.

UPDATED: February 6, 2017

On February 3, 2017 the states of Washington and Minnesota filed suit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to restrain implementation of the Trump executive order banning people with valid visas from entering the United States, and legal permanent residents from returning to the United States, from Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Irag, Iran, Libya, and Somalia.  The restraining order was granted, halting the implementation of the travel ban nationwide. The Trump administration immediately filed an appeal to reverse the Ninth Circuit.  This appeal was not granted.  As of today, the restraining order remains in place and immigrants and refugees from the six countries with valid visas and legal permanent residents are allowed to board planes and enter the United States.

On February 6, 2017 former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, along with Avril Haines, Michael Hayden, John McLaughlin, Lisa Monaco, Michael Morell, Janet Napolitano, Leon Panetta, and Susan Rice submitted a joint declaration to the Ninth Circuit explicating the negative impact on U.S. interests resulting from the Trump executive order.  Filings of State of Washington and State of Minnesota v Trump can be found here.  The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse continues to collect all cases filed in response to the ban.

On Friday, January 27, 2017, shortly before 5:00 p.m., an Executive Order was signed by the President called "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry To the United States."  A copy of the Executive Order can be found on the White House website and here.     

The following sites provide insight on the current state of affairs, including the response to the EO:

UPDATED: February 1, 2017

A timely forum on the Executive Orders on Immigrants and Refugees at Georgetown Law Center with Professor Schoenholtz, Professor Lederman, and Professor Schrag took place.  The recording is available online here.

ASIL sponsored a live briefing, which was streamed (and recorded) addressing International Law and the Trump Administration.

President Donald Trump’s executive orders to date, as well as reports of intended policy changes, raise questions about the continuity of U.S. commitments to various treaties and international agreements now in place, including the Iran nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the North Atlantic (NATO) Treaty, and the Paris Agreement on global climate change, and, more broadly, about what role the United States will play over the next four years in advancing and maintaining the international legal architecture that successive administrations put in place.
This live online briefing—the first of a series on international law and the Trump Administration—will feature leading experts in the law of treaties and will examine such issues as the status of treaties and other international agreements under both international and U.S. domestic law; the obligation of nations to comply with the agreements into which they have entered; and the procedures under which they are permitted to withdraw from such agreements or repudiate their obligations under them.

UPDATED: January 31, 2017

Upon signing, the ban was immediately implemented resulting in numerous detentions of immigrants arriving at United States airports despite having valid visas.  Legal permanent residents of the United States whose country of origin was one of the seven listed in the ban were also detained.  These detentions sparked massive protests at airports, as well as spontaneous and ad hoc organization of pro-bono lawyers who came together to file the lawsuits on behalf of people detained.   It was reported that Customs and Border Patrol at multiple airports refused to allow access of lawyers to detainees, despite court orders to do so.  Many lawmakers were also refused access.  (See Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2017CNN, January 30, 2017; New York Times, January 29, 2017)

It has been reported that Customs and Border Patrol agents coerced individuals who were entering the United States on valid passports to sign documents forfeiting entry into the United States.  In addition, many individuals who could not read or speak English were directed to sign the forfeiture documents.  

Multiple challenges were brought on behalf of people being detained at U.S. airports.  A list of cases can be found at the University of Michigan Law School's Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.

Darweesh v Trump: On January 28, 2017 Judge Ann M. Donnelly issued a restraining order to end deportation of any individual with a valid visa, and other individuals legally authorized to enter the United States.

Tootkaboni v Trump: On January 29, 2017 Judge Allison D. Burroughs, with magistrate judge Judith Gail Dein, issued a temporary restraining order against the removal of any individual with a valid visa, as well asl lawful permanent residents, and any other persons legally authorized to enter the United States.

On January 29, 2017 the White House stated that legal permanent residents (green card holders) would be allowed into the United States on a "case-by-case basis."

On January 30, 2017 Trump fired the deputy attorney general, Sarah Yates, after she announced that the Office of the Attorney General would not enforce the executive order.  On the same day Trump  replaced Ms. Yates with  Dana J. Boente. 

ORIGINAL POST: January 26, 2017

Donald Trump focused on Muslim immigrants during his campaign for the office of president.  On January 26th, 2017 he announced an executive order that would halt or severely restrict emigration from seven Muslim majority countries into the United States.  These countries are Syria, Irag, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.  However, emigration from Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia would not be impacted.  In Turkey, Trump has two licensing contracts for luxury high rises in Istanbul.

The Washington Post reported on January 26, 2017 that the executive order will immediately halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees and it would halt entry of any person from the seven countries for 30 days, even if the person has a visa or relatives who are U.S. citizens.

National Public Radio reported on January 26, 2017 that the Trump plan would implement a 120-day moratorium on new refugees entering the United States.  This will be done in order for the White House to devise new refugee policies that will prioritize the entry of Christian refugees.  The plan would also decrease the total number of refugees admitted into the United States to 50,000.

The draft proposal, which was not released by the White House, was published on the website Bloomberg Politics, as well as other websites.

Disagreement with Australia Refugee Agreement

On Saturday, January 28, 2017, Trump abruptly ended a telephone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement between the U.S. and Australia. The U.S. had previously agreed to take in 1,250 refugees from an overflowing Australian detention center. Late Wednesday night, Mr. Trump took to twitter to continue his complaints over the agreement. Trump's actions in this instance threaten to undermine one of the longest standing relationships the U.S. has had with an ally. Australia has fought alongside the U.S. in every conflict the U.S. has participated in since WWI.

Current Awareness

Just Security is an online forum for the analysis of U.S. national security law and policy.  It is abased at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the NYU School of Law.  Receive updates by email by filling out the relevant form available online.  Three options are available: Norms Watch (updates on Trump administration policies and actions that break from custom, practice, and precedent in politics and law), Early Edition (up to the minute updates at the beginning of every weekday), and Today (summary of all posts by 6pm ET every weekday).  Professor Lederman is a founding editor and contributor.  

Lawfare is a blog that was originally designed to address the tension between protecting the nation with laws and legal institutions.  As stated on the blog's about page:

The name Lawfare refers both to the use of law as a weapon of conflict and, perhaps more importantly, to the depressing reality that America remains at war with itself over the law governing its warfare with others. This latter sense of the word--which is admittedly not its normal usage--binds together a great deal of our work over the years. It is our hope to provide an ongoing commentary on America's lawfare, even as we participate in many of its skirmishes.

Topics include Executive Power, Refugees, and Donald Trump. New content added to Lawfare can be delivered to subscribers by email (e.g., headlines and commentary, podcasts, book review). Carrie Cordero, an Adjunct Professor of Law and former Director of National Security Studies at Georgetown Law, is a contributing editor.