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Muslim Advocates, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al. (No. 1)

Case Overview

Muslim Advocates, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the law firm of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) complaint seeking to compel the Trump administration to release critically important details about how an individual may obtain a case- by-case waiver from the provisions of the Second Muslim Ban.

President Trump’s Muslim Ban includes a provision for case-by-case waivers for which individuals who are otherwise covered by the ban may apply for an exemption. None of the bans, however, include any formal process, a designated point person or office, application forms, information about what to include, administrative appeal avenues, or any other explanation of precisely how such waiver applications will be adjudicated, beyond some very general representations about the eligibility criteria (that the person will suffer undue hardship; that the person does not pose a threat to the national security of the United States; and that it would be in the national interest of the United States to allow the person to enter). No further explanation of the standards under which those applications will be adjudicated has been provided.

The waiver process is the only way anyone from the banned countries can enter the United States. For this reason, it is critical to have a better understanding of the process and the criteria that govern these applications. Because of this, Muslim Advocates filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking for additional information about how the federal government intends to implement the case-by-case waiver provisions. The administration has yet to comply with any part of that request, even though the statutory deadline for a response has long since passed. This lawsuit seeks to have that FOIA request fulfilled.


Date filed: October 5, 2017

Court(s):  United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Co-Counsel: Southern Poverty Law Center; Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP; Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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