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UMAA v. Trump

UPDATE: On May, 11, 2017, the court issued a stay in this case. Click here for more information.

On March 23, 2017, Muslim Advocates and our partners, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, filed UMAA v. Trump to challenge President Trump’s second Muslim ban. This lawsuit is distinctive: it ensures American Muslims have a voice at the table as the courts determine the constitutionality of the ban, and it is the only lawsuit that comprehensively describes the diverse range of harms to the American Muslim community, including a threat to American Shi’a Muslims’ freedom to worship.  

About UMAA v. Trump

UMAA v. Trump is a direct challenge to the second Muslim ban executive order issued by President Trump on March 6, 2017. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The name of the suit is UMAA v. Trump. The word “ummah” in Arabic means “community.”

There are two sets of plaintiffs in the case. They include the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA), the country’s largest organization of Shi’a Muslims, whose members are being deprived of religious learning, worship, and services because their religious scholars almost exclusively hail from Iran, Iraq and Syria.  One of their scholars has already been denied entry under the first Muslim ban executive order, and he and other scholars are likely to be denied entry again.  In other words, the ban violates the American Shia community’s freedom to worship, an argument that until now has not been heard by any court.

The second set of plaintiffs are John and Jane Doe — parents blocked from bringing their children home from Yemen.

About the Plaintiffs

The Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA)
Shi’a Islam is distinct from other major religions in that nearly all of its highest-ranking scholars live in the nations of Iran, Iraq and Syria. UMAA, which is the largest organization of Shi’a Muslims in the United States, has been organizing conferences and events around these religious scholars for years. Since most Iranian nationals are banned under the executive order and Iraqis are subject to an unclear standard of extreme vetting, the members of UMAA are being cut off from their ability to study with their religious leaders. This would be similar to banning all Catholic priests, cardinals, and bishops.  

John and Jane Doe
The Does are a Yemeni family of asylees living in the United States. As Yemen has been ravaged by civil war and famine, the Does were granted asylum in the United States but two of their six children are still stuck in outside the U.S.  The Muslim ban denies these children entry into the United States, separating them from their parents and siblings and endangering their safety and well-being.

Muslim Advocates is grateful for the tremendous pro bono support of the law firm of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer.