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Meet the Attorney Suing Trump for Barring Children from Entering U.S. to See Their Parents

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New information is emerging that the U.S. State Department has provisionally revoked all nonimmigrant and immigrant visas of nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. We speak to Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, lead counsel for a class action lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s executive order. His lawsuit was filed in Seattle on behalf of three parents legally living in the U.S. who are now restricted from bringing their children from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: New information is emerging about U.S. State Department guidance issued the day President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning all refugees, as well as all citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—from entering the United States. WBUR has acquired a department memo dated January 27th that provisionally revokes all nonimmigrant and immigrant visas of nationals from the seven countries as of Friday. According to the memo, the revocation does not apply to diplomatic visas.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we go to Seattle, Washington, where we’re joined by Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, lead counsel for a class action lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s executive order. His lawsuit was filed in Seattle on behalf of three parents legally living in the U.S. who are now restricted from bringing their children from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Matt, welcome to Democracy Now! Tell us who your clients are and what’s happened in the last week.

MATT ADAMS: Thank you. Our clients are three parents. One is—two of them are United States citizens, and one of them is a lawful permanent resident. And so we have, for example, a Syrian mother, a lawful permanent resident, who lives here in Seattle and has been separated from her child, a 16-year-old boy. She’s filed a visa petition. It’s been approved. He is in desperate circumstances in war-torn Syria. And now, after she submitted her application with the consulate, the president has issued this order, putting an indefinite hold and separation between her and her child.

We have another. A mother and a father are both United States citizens. They have two other daughters who are here, also U.S. citizens, who are separated from their 12-year-old daughter, who is not. Their application had already been processed, had already been approved. The father went to pick up his daughter, who’s from Yemen. They had to travel to Jordan. Yemen is so dangerous that our own U.S. Consulate has pulled out of that. So they had their interview in Jordan. It was approved. They showed up at the airport. And when they arrived at the airport, they were told the father, of course, can get on the plane, because he’s a U.S. citizen, but the 12-year-old daughter has to stay behind. And, of course, what is the father to do? Right now, him and his daughter are left in a desperate situation. He doesn’t know what he can do. He can’t send her back to the danger that exists in Yemen.

We have one other client, a mother who is, again, a U.S. citizen, and her 6-year-old daughter is left in Somalia. And again, an application has—a visa petition has already been approved. The application went forward with the consulate. And now President Trump has said, no, these children are a threat to our national security, because they come from predominantly Muslim countries that have been targeted. And a hold has been placed on them and hundreds of others who are like them, who’ve reached out to us. And so, these individuals are bringing a lawsuit not just on behalf of themselves, but others who are similarly situated.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matt Adams, can you just tell us what is the status of your lawsuit now? What are you arguing?

MATT ADAMS: We are arguing that this executive order blatantly violates not only the United States Constitution and its guarantee of equal protection for all under the law and its guarantee of due process for all, but it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, which explicitly states that visas will be issued without discriminating based on national origin or country of birth. And yet that’s precisely what Trump has done with his executive order, is said, “I’m going to target these individuals because they come from a country, not because of anything to do with them individually.” And, in fact, it’s absurd on its face, if you look at it and say, “How in the world can he be trying to tie this to national security, when he’s barring children from coming in to be reunited with their parents, their parents who are already living here, their parents who are United States citizens and lawful permanent residents?”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matt Adams, we want to thank you for being with us. We hope to have you on in the coming days with your clients. Matt Adams is legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, lead counsel for the class action lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s executive order, his lawsuit filed in Seattle on behalf of three parents legally living in the U.S. who are now restricted from bringing their kids from Somalia, Syria and Yemen. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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