Washington, DC — On Friday, February 2, 2024, a coalition of 12 grassroots and civil-rights groups organized by and including Muslim Advocates filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief, urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reinstate a lawsuit about the illegality of biased and discriminatory religious questioning by border agents of Black, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (BAMEMSA) people.
The coalition filed the amicus brief in support of the three plaintiffs in Kariye v. Mayorkas, who sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its sub-agencies for targeting them at ports of entry as part of a larger pattern and practice of biased and discriminatory religious questioning of Muslims and other BAMEMSA people whom the government wrongly perceives to be Muslim. On multiple occasions, border agents targeted these Muslim-American plaintiffs for interrogation about their religious beliefs, practices, and associations—including through questions about their religious sect, the number of times they pray a day, whether they pray at a mosque, and which mosques they attend.
The coalition’s amicus brief situates the plaintiffs’ experiences within the larger, decades-long context of DHS’s biased and discriminatory targeting of BAMEMSA people based on harmful, false, and racialized tropes that wrongly equate Islam with putative dangerousness.
“Law enforcement practices based on animus, stereotypes, or bias—none of which can stand in the place of data—cannot support the disparate and discriminatory treatment of individuals within the United States that is at issue in this case,” states the amicus brief. “In its resolution of this appeal, this Court has a choice: allow Plaintiffs, who are concretely harmed by governmental Islamophobia, to make their case on the merits, or instead disregard the discriminatory practices harming them and countless people like them.”
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed the Kariye lawsuit in late 2023, and the plaintiffs are appealing the dismissal to ask the Ninth Circuit to reinstate the lawsuit and allow their constitutional and statutory claims to proceed on their merits.
Muslim Advocates and partnering pro-bono attorneys prepared the amicus brief, drawing from the insights and expertise of the breadth of amici joining it, including: African Communities Together, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, CLEAR Project, Muslims for Just Futures, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Project, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, and the Sikh Coalition. The ACLU, ACLU of Minnesota, ACLU of Southern California, and partnering pro-bono attorneys represent the Kariye plaintiffs-appellants.
Muslim Advocates is a national social-justice, legal-advocacy, and educational organization that works with and for Muslim and other historically marginalized communities to build community power, fight systemic oppression, and demand shared well-being.