Category: Attorney Ahmad Yakzan

Attorney Ahmad Yakzan

I Told You So!! Judge Limits Trump’s Travel Ban, Again!

I wrote a post when the Supreme Court ruled on Trump’s travel ban arguing that the decision was more expansive than the Administration’s interpretation. I also said that there will be more litigation to clarify who is encompassed within the “bona fide relationship” language the Supreme Court used. Yesterday, a federal judge in Hawaii agreed with my interpretation of the decision. The judge expanded the definition to encompass more family members than included in the Administration’s definition, which was limited to parents, in-laws, and siblings.

Advocates suing the Administration over the ban asked the judge to expound on the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision, and to clarify the “bona fide relationship” language in the decision. The judge previously refused to grant that request, but yesterday, he did.

The Judge ruled that the Administration’s interpretation is antithetical, ruling that such interpretation was erroneous. The judge reasoned that such interpretation does not comport to the Supreme Court ruling, since grandparents, in-laws, siblings, uncles and their children meet the close familial relationship encompassed in the Supreme Court’s decision.

The judge also agreed with my interpretation of the decision, where I argued that a simple promise of refugee status is enough to make refugees exempt from the ban. The Administration disagreed with the Plaintiffs’ argument, which simply out says that any refugee who has had the necessary background checks , medical tests, and has received a contract for resettlement is included within the scope of “bona fide” relationships. The Administration argued that individual refugees did not directly receive such commitment and that should bring out of the scope of the decision. The judge disagreed, saying that going through all these steps shows a bona fide relationship. He added that “[b]ona fide does not get more bona fide as that”.

This is yet another blow to the Administration’s travel ban. The think there will be more litigation about this ban, especially when I know that the “bona fide relationship” language in the Supreme Court’s decision was vague.

Please let me know your thoughts. To read the decision, click here.

the president should not consider the ban decision a win

Beware Mr. President: The Supreme Court Did Not Give You a Win!!

I read the Supreme Court’s decision on the travel ban today, and all I have to say is that it is not a win for the President. I will discuss below.

What did the Court Say?

The decision to grant certiorari on the case is not a final decision, it is a decision limiting the application of the injunctions currently in place against the President’s executive order. It ruled on two issues 1) whether the states and individuals had the standing to sue to stop the ban and 2)  whether the President can limit refugee admission based on national security grounds.

What will the Court Do?

The Court ruled that the injunction should stay in place for individuals, similarly situated to the Plaintiffs, who had a bona fide relationship with an individual or entity in the United States. The Court lifted the injunction when it came to individuals who do not have such connections. This reasoning also applied to refugees who may claim standing if they have such relationships. This reasoning is sure to lead to more litigation regarding the ban.

What is the Strategy Against the Ban?

I do not believe that the President should claim victory in this case. The simple reason is that this decision, in essence, gave potential standing to refugees, and gave organizations who help refugees standing to sue to further enjoin the ban.

The decision allowed refugees to claim standing if they have connections to an organization in the United States. So for example, a refugee who has gone through the background checks and has been approved for relocation to the United States might, potentially, have the standing to sue if they were denied admission to the United States. This also expands standing to the organizations themselves, who may, in essence, claim the necessary standing based on potential economic injury from the ban. Let us remember that these organizations receive government payments for the relocation of these refugees.

The decision also allows standing to family members to sue if there is a discriminatory reason for the denial of admission for their family members. Basically, the decision will expand standing to affected individuals as applied to their family members. Thus far, the ban has been challenged on facial grounds. In other words, the ban is being challenged because it is discriminatory on facial grounds, i.e. as it is read. if we move forward, the ban will also be challenged on “as applied” grounds i.e. as applied to these individuals with family members in the United States. These two grounds will surely lead to more challenges to the ban in court.

What are the possible Outcomes for the Case?

There are three possible outcomes to this case, and I believe that the Court will punt on the issue to allow a decision on the merits in the lower courts.

The first outcome might be for the Court to decide that the case is moot. The executive order itself will sunset within 90 days after the government conducts a study on the “extreme vetting” procedures for which the President advocated during the campaign. So when this case comes up for a decision before the Court, it might already be moot. However, one possible strategy against this issue is the fact that the issue might be capable of repeated in the future and evading review. This is the argument used in Roe v. Wade for example.

The Court may also remand the case to the lower court for more fact-finding and for a decision on the merits. The main issue here will be whether there are enough facts for the Court to make a decision. The main issue here is the discriminatory intent behind the executive order itself. The Court may remand the case to the lower court who are more equipped for fact-finding than the Supreme Court. The Court may keep the injunction in place until the decisions on the merits are issued.

Lastly, the Court may either uphold the injunction or remove it, allowing the ban to go into effect. This, however, will be unlikely, since the Court will essentially be giving a partial win on the merits to the Administration. I must say that the Court’s prior decisions give standing to states to challenge the President’s authority to enter such executive orders when they harm their interest.

I disagree with the President that today’s decision is an outright win for him. Stay tuned for future posts on this issue. Call us at 1(888)963-7326 to schedule a consultation with us.

eleventh circuit rules on drug convictions under mellouli

The Ninth Circuit Made the Right Decision: Now What?

The Ninth Circuit travel ban decision has now dealt another blow to the Executive Order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. This decision is the latest in a series of decisions that have upheld the restraining order against the ban. I believe that this decision is the right decision, however, I do believe that the Justice Department has made a mistake in appealing the case to the Supreme Court, which I would discuss below.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision is a reiteration of its previous decision dealing with the issue. The Ninth Circuit, in essence, said that the President and the Administration did not articulate a rational basis for the ban, which is a classification based on religion. The decision goes through all of the Administration’s arguments to support and the ban, and, one by one, the Court struck them down. The Court did allow the enhanced vetting procedures to go forward, which, in due time, would be in court. I believe that these procedures will also be unconstitutional based on the procedures once they are released.

  • Why Did the Administration Make a Mistake? 

I believe that the Administration made a mistake in asking the Supreme Court to review the restraining order decisions from two different cases. It is worth noting that the two courts, at least the Fourth Circuit, is not a bastion of liberal jurisprudence. This, in my opinion, would make a decision overruling the restraining orders much more difficult.

It is also worth noting that in a case called United States v. Texas, which reviewed President Obama’s Executive Order upheld the lower court’s decision enjoining the order based on the same grounds the new order was restrained. In that decision, the Supreme Court upheld the restraining order from the Fifth Circuit. That case held that the states had standing to challenge President Obama’s Executive Order granting relief from removal for millions of undocumented immigrants. I do not believe that there has been a shift in the law to change that decision. The Administration is sure to challenge jurisdiction based on state standing. Moreover, the chances of the Supreme Court granting certiorari to review the lower courts’ decision have diminished because of that binding prior decision.

I believe that the Administration should have waited for a ruling on the merits to appeal to the Supreme Court.

  • Why Are the Vetting Procedures Problematic? 

I believe that the vetting procedures will also be a problem under this administration. Unfortunately, we will not be able to know them until there are regulations dealing with these procedures are published. Then, immigration attorneys and the public at large would be able to review them. There will be legal challenges to the procedures if they were based on discriminatory criteria.

We now await the Supreme Court’s decision on whether it will take the case.

CLINIC Materials Highlighted in Education Department’s New Resource for Assisting Undocumented Students

Silver Spring, MD— Resources from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), including the Educators’ Back to School Toolkit, are featured in a new guide released Oct. 20 by the U.S. Department of Education, aimed at helping educators support undocumented students.
Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth,” is the first of two such booklets planned by the federal agency to focus on the needs of undocumented young people. It compiles basic legal information along with background material from a variety of sources and suggests resources for helping high school and college students succeed. A second guide, scheduled for release in 2016, will focus on children at the elementary and early learning levels.
The 63-page guide includes:

  • An overview of the rights of undocumented students;
  • Legal guidelines for educators;
  • Tips for teachers and other school personnel for supporting undocumented youth;
  • Information on access to federal financial aid for noncitizens;
  • A list of private scholarships for which undocumented youth might be eligible;
  • Information on federally-funded adult education programs at the local level;
  • Guidance for students and young adults in obtaining their school records for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

In addition to CLINIC’s toolkit, the guide features a link to CLINIC’s webinar for educators. All of CLINIC’s resources on DACA can be found here.
“Teachers and school personnel around the country will benefit from having material in one place that can reliably direct them in helping immigrants in their communities,” Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC Executive Director said.  “CLINIC is pleased that the Education Department collaborated with us and others who have hands-on experience in the advocacy community to create this important resource for educators. We look forward to continuing this kind of engagement and outreach to the immigrant community.” 

Source: Catholic Charities

The New Latino South

We know immigrants are coming to the Southeast.  But who are they, and from where are they coming?  Seven of the nine U.S. states in which the Latino population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 are in the Southeast region.  Over one-third come from Mexico. Most immigrants are undocumented and of the undocumented, most are Latino (76.2%). As the numbers clearly show, Hispanics constitute the largest ethnic immigrant group in the Southeast.  Yet Latinos in the Southeast have been doing more than transform the statistics: socially, culturally, and economically, the mass migration of Latinos over the course of the past two decades has profoundly transformed Southeastern society.

During the 1990s, the Southeast became one of the fastest growing regions in America, resulting in economic progress and new job creation in a variety of industries.  At the same time, employers in some industries , such as food processing, faced increasing challenges to fill positions with local workers and, therefore, began recruiting immigrant workers.  Combined, the region and its economy magnetically attracted immigrants.  Not surprisingly, immigrants coming to the Southeast and other new-destination states were more likely than immigrants elsewhere to be of working age (the median age being 27), able to pick up their lives and move northward. These immigrants were also more likely to be male but, over time, many wives joined their husbands with children and other family members north of the border.  The emergence of this Latino community in the Southeast quickly became apparent throughout suburbs and cities, in the form of everything from tiendas, selling popular Latin sweets and Spanish-language newspapers, to radio programs, playing popular Latin music.  Adult Latino immigrants make up a significant part of the manufacturing, service, and construction sectors. The Latino school-age population in the Southeast grew by 322% between 1990 and 2000, which has put pressure on local officials and governments to meet and provide the social service needs for these children and their families.  In Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, Latinos now make up one out of every twelve voters

As a result of the region’s minimal pre-existing infrastructure of Spanish-language institutions and lawmakers with little experience dealing with new, growing immigrant communities, an abundance of policies and legislation have been enacted—though often not in favor of the immigrant.  Check back next week to find out more about societal changes in the Southeast and wide-spread immigrant-restrictionist sentiment.

*Lorenza Ramirez is FirstGen Fellow with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Source: Catholic Charities

Making a Difference: Comforting the Detained Families of Dilley

Twenty-eight years ago my mother fled her home in Nicaragua, a country embroiled in civil war. For years, her life and that of her family had been ravaged by a country with corrupt government officials and oppressed by a rebel group that brought nothing but violence to civilians like my parents.  My mother saw family members and friends killed or forced to fight for a cause they did not believe in. At one point, she was taken hostage and held at gunpoint by militant groups and forced to drop out of school. After my brother was born, my mother decided to  make her way to the United States in search of a better life. Four months ago, my mother became a naturalized citizen. Although undocumented for years, she was able to work and provide my brother and me with a safe home, education, and the resources to succeed.

My mother is the reason I wanted to go to the Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas as a volunteer with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project. Had my mom been an asylum-seeking immigrant today, she would be in the same situation as the women I encountered in the detention center.

Each woman was there because she had a fear of returning to her country of origin and it was our job, as volunteers, to discover that reason. An important task that the volunteers were charged with was preparing the mothers for their Credible Fear Interviews with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). During these preparations, I heard first-hand accounts as to why these mothers fled their country. The reasons varied from gang violence, death threats, sexual harassment, and vicious domestic violence. One woman had her entire house burned to the ground by a gang.  The life of her child was threatened unless she fled the country at once. Another woman recounted the multiple times her husband abused her, meanwhile, her daughter listened and sobbed uncontrollably while her son tried to fight back the tears at recalling the painful memories.

The most difficult aspect of volunteering in Dilley was undoubtedly the emotional toll of seeing and hearing the experiences of these women and children. What is even more heartbreaking is seeing their current conditions in the detention centers, where the haven they dreamed of is nothing but a desert wasteland. Although I witnessed a lot of sadness during my time in Dilley, I feel blessed to have experienced incredible high points as well.  I made a difference.  When a detainee recounted the pain of persecution, I did my best to console them.  I comforted the women with my words and tried to boost the confidence of their children.

These moments were what made every long hour worthwhile. Moreover, the volunteers during my week were an incredibly kind group of experts.  I am happy to say these people became my friends.  If asked if I would volunteer with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project again, I would absolutely say yes. 

I am thankful every day that my mother made the decision to leave her country in search of a better life. I know that one day, when these children grow up and realize the sacrifices their families have made, they too will be grateful. 

*Ashlynn Planco is Legalization Administrative Assistant for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) 

Source: Catholic Charities

Where are Immigrants to the US Moving?

It’s no surprise that immigrants are coming to the United States, and in large numbers: between 1990 and 2013, the number of U.S. immigrants more than doubled as it grew from 19.8 million to 41.3 millionBut have you thought about where in the United States those immigrants are going, and why?

Over the course of the last twenty years, trends regarding the destination of immigrants have shifted.  The traditional seven destination states—California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts, which since the 1960s have together attracted between 60 and 75 percent of the entire foreign-born population—have seen a declining share of immigrants entering, while non-traditional states have seen an increase.  Many of these non-traditional destination states are in the Southeastern region of the United States.  Immigrant populations in South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Mississippi all increased by more than 49% between 2000 and 2009. (See infographic.)

Upon arrival to the Southeast, those immigrants—both documented and undocumented—are thrust into an overwhelming, complicated maze of immigration laws that impact every dimension of their lives.  The growth of this immigrant population, therefore, presents a need for access to and availability of legal service providers, to aid immigrants in navigating this maze.  The reality, however, is that the availability of said services is extremely limited: by comparing the undocumented population and number of existing immigrant legal service providers, it has been determined that: 1 provider exists per every 11,582 undocumented immigrants in the Southeast.

That’s why CLINIC is committing to providing funding and holistic support to twelve organizations in the Southeast, to help increase the number and effectiveness of legal service providers. 

CLINIC is already engaged with the Southeastern immigrant community through its multiple programs: with 55 of its 278 affiliates being located in the Southeast, departments such as Advocacy, Training & Legal Support, and Religious Immigration Services continue to engage heavily with advocates in the region to promote immigrant rights and support existing legal service providers.  Providing funding and holistic support to the Southeast is simply another effort on the part of CLINIC to promote and defend immigrant rights in the region.

This introductory post is the first in a four-part series focusing on the immigrant community in the Southeast and the need for legal service providers in the area.  Check back next Thursday for the second post: the New Latino South.  Stay tuned!

*Lorenza Ramirez is FirstGen Fellow with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Source: Catholic Charities

CARA: ICE and CCA Continue to Endanger the Lives of Mothers and Children Incarcerated at Family Detention Facility

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, the American Immigration Council (Council), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), partners in the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, formally lodged the latest in a series of complaints detailing the inhumane conditions to which mothers and children are subjected while detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) in Dilley, Texas.

Tragically, this complaint documents many of the very same medical access problems that were brought to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) by CARA on July 30, 2015. The latest examples include:

  • A mother and two-year-old son suffering from a cough, a cold, and a fever; the mother was told by the nurse that there was no doctor onsite and that nurses were not authorized to prescribe medicine. She and her son returned to the clinic on numerous occasions, still sick and in need of care; on one occasion they waited for four hours, but did not get to see a doctor because he was at lunch. The sixth time the mother sought help, she was given ibuprofen and Vicks Vaporub for her son, who had been vomiting and unable to eat for days.
  • A three-year-old girl, sick with a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and ear pain waited more than five hours to see a nurse. The nurse examined her and said she looked dehydrated and it appeared she had a burst ear drum; a doctor said that she had either a virus or an infection that would go away in two to three weeks. The doctor prescribed Vicks Vaporub. Since that appointment, the girl has lost weight and is still sick.
  • A four-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with anemia when he was an infant and required regular medical intervention to treat his condition, but has not received any treatment since he arrived at Dilley, despite his mother’s repeated attempts to get him medical attention.  He complains of pain in his head, his lips turn purple, and he shakes from being cold, even in the heat of South Texas. He vomits, is constantly fatigued and does not play with other children.

To date, the CARA project has received no meaningful response to any of the complaints submitted to CRCL and OIG on the issue of inadequate medical care and there have been no visible improvements made.  The cases documented here represent merely a sampling of the dire state of medical care at Dilley because, in some cases, mothers fear that lodging a formal complaint might negatively impact their immigration cases and therefore do not speak out publicly.

In addition to investigating the specific cases described in the complaint, CARA urges a broader investigation into the adequacy of the medical care provided at all three family detention facilities. These complaints add to the already overwhelming evidence that the detention of children and mothers is inherently inhumane and must end.

Press inquiries, please contact:

AILA: Belle Woods,, 202-507-7675

Council: Wendy Feliz,, 202-507-7524

RAICES: Mohammad Abdollahi,, 210-544-7811

CLINIC:  Ashley Feasley,, 301-565-4831

Source: Catholic Charities

CARA: Coercion and Intimidation of Detained Mothers and Children Must Stop

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), partners in the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, submitted  the latest in a series of formal complaints to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG), this one documenting intimidation, misinformation and violations of the right to counsel at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

The complaint describes how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are using coercive tactics to force detained mothers to accept electronic ankle monitors as a condition of release and forfeit their right to pursue bond hearings before immigration judges. The complaint documents case after case of ICE employing unlawful tactics to intimidate detained mothers and thereby prevent them from asserting their rights. These tactics include blocking attorneys from accessing their clients during compulsory ICE questioning, threatening to withhold medical care for children if mothers choose to seek bond hearings instead of accepting ankle monitors, and threatening mothers with deportation if they raise concerns or inquire about the status of their cases.

The affidavits recount instances where ICE officers:

  • Spread misinformation about the possibility of bond, such as telling incarcerated mothers that if they chose a bond hearing instead of an ankle monitor they would be detained for months and that CARA project volunteers were “lying” to them.
  • Actually removed a client from an ongoing consultation with a legal volunteer to attend a compulsory ICE meeting from which the volunteer was barred.
  • Threatened to withhold medical care to children unless the mother agrees to an ankle monitor.
  • Intimidated mothers into signing documents in English that they did not understand and refusing to let them consult with pro bono attorneys who could have advised them on the implications of what they were signing.

This mistreatment of an extremely vulnerable and traumatized group of mothers detained with their young children is appalling. These practices also directly interfere with a detained mother’s right to counsel under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and federal regulations. CARA calls for immediate investigation of ICE’s custody determination and release practices to ensure that they are free from coercion and systemic interference with detained mothers’ rights to counsel and to fair process.

Press inquiries, please contact:

AILA: Belle Woods,, 202-507-7675

Council: Wendy Feliz,, 202-507-7524

RAICES: Mohammad Abdollahi,, 210-544-7811

CLINIC:  Ashley Feasley,, 301-565-4831

Source: Catholic Charities