Los Banos Enterprise
Los Banos Man Stranded In Africa With Daughter Joins Lawsuit Against Trump
BY VIKAAS SHANKER
Ahmed Ali, the Yemen-born Los Banos man stuck in east Africa with his 12-year-old daughter, joined a class action lawsuit late Monday seeking to overturn the portion of President Donald Trump’s executive order that is blocking Ali from bringing his daughter to the United States.
Ali, whose full name is Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Ali, and his 12-year-old daughter, Eman Ali, claim that Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven countries “has shattered (their) lives and their prospects for being reunited as well as the lives and reunification prospects of the scores of similarly situated families and individuals,” the suit says.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, and published online by the American Immigration Council, which also filed the lawsuit along with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the National Immigration Project.
In addition to the lawsuit, Eman’s immigration lawyer, Katy Lewis, and congressional leaders are pursuing other avenues to bring her to Los Banos.
“We’re still trying to pursue all means to bring them back,” said Lewis, adding that she was contacted by and helped the nonprofit organizations with the lawsuit.
Lewis said she has been in regular contact with Ali, U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, and U.S. Senate Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris to obtain a travel letter or exemption for Eman. Eman received her U.S. immigrant visa hours before Trump signed the executive order.
In a statement following news of the lawsuit, Costa, D-Fresno, said he and his staff “are working diligently through the appropriate channels with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to bring Mr. Ali and his daughter home as soon as possible.”
The suit challenges the constitutionality of Trump’s order suspending travel visas and other immigration benefits to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Ali and his daughter have been stuck in a hotel in east Africa since the ban went into effect Friday. The 39-year-old father of three has said he can’t send his daughter back to war-torn Yemen and he can’t leave Djibouti without her.
“He’s hoping the U.S. government does the right thing and he is eager to get this resolved and return to his family,” said Katy Lewis, an immigration attorney who has been working with the family for several years.
The suit also lists as plaintiffs two other children from Somalia and Syria with similar stories to Eman’s.
It claims hundreds of people were harmed in the wake of the executive order, which the suit describes as a “Muslim ban.”
The suit attributes a quote to Trump made during his presidential campaign in which he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
It also cites Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s advisor on cybersecurity, who they say “confirmed that the current executive order was intended to be a ‘legal’ ban on Muslims.”
The lawsuit further cites a New York Times story reporting Christian refugees are granted priority over Muslims in the immigration process from the targeted countries.
Along with Trump, the lawsuit names as defendants the heads of the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the director of national intelligence.
Ali, manager of the Buy N Save Market in Los Banos, has been a U.S. citizen since 2010. He has worked for more than a decade to bring his family out of Yemen. His wife also is a citizen, his 14-year-old daughter was naturalized and his 2-year-old child was born in America.
Eman, however, was born in Yemen and the family has for seven years been struggling to secure the girl’s visa, which was issued just hours before Trump’s controversial order.
The lawsuit details the events leading up to Saturday, when airline officials denied Eman entry to the flight.
After applying for the immigrant visa and going through several background and medical checks, Eman and her father traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti for an interview on Jan. 22, according to the suit. Eman had travelled about 20 hours from Yemen to Djibouti.
They were notified that Eman was approved for an immigrant visa on Thursday, and they picked up the visa at the embassy on Thursday, the suit states.
They spent just more than $2,000 on Ethiopian Airlines tickets from Djibouti to the United States, according to the lawsuit. But on Saturday while at the airport, Ali was told that Eman wasn’t permitted to board the flight.
“There is a real possibility that the United States will not permit (Eman) to enter the United States,” the suit claims.
The outpouring of support for Ali’s family led the San Francisco law firm Lewis works at, Van Der Hout, Brigagliano, & Nightingale, to set up a GoFundMe page Monday for donations to the family.
The page at https://www.gofundme.com/AliFamilyFund, has raised more than $16,000 in 20 hours as of Tuesday afternoon.
Costa in his Tuesday release noted that Ali’s families are constituents of his. But he intends to explore every avenue to get the other immigrants in the lawsuit on U.S. soil as well.
Costa also said Trump’s order would make the United States more dangerous rather than safer.
“The executive order will create a rallying cry for Islamic extremists to say that America is now engaged in a war against the religion of Islam,” he said.
The White House press office did not respond to an emailed request for comment Monday. The office didn’t immediately respond to email requests Tuesday.
31Steve Kerr says Trump's immigration ban is 'going against the principles of what our country is about'
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr on Sunday weighed in on President Donald Trump's executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
Kerr, who was critical of Trump's election, said that the order, which bars citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from traveling to the US, would have the opposite effect intended.
"I would just say that as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father, if we're trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it's the wrong way of going about it," Kerr said.
"If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror. So I'm completely against what's happening."
Kerr's father, Malcolm, was a professor at American University of Beirut. He was murdered by an Islamic jihadist while serving as president of the university in 1984. Steve was in college at University of Arizona at the time.
"I think it's shocking. It's a horrible idea," Kerr said. "I feel for all the people that are affected. Families are being torn apart, and I worry in the big picture what this means to the security of the world. It's going about it completely opposite. You want to solve terror, you want to solve crime, this is not the way to do it."
On Sunday, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who has also been critical of Trump, addressed the ban, calling it "Keystone Kop-like," a reference to an incompetent police force from silent films in the early 20th century.
"As you already know, I have lots of thoughts about what we've done to ourselves as a country, what we have allowed to happen," Popovich said. "But we'll see where this goes."
He continued, "Obviously, the rollout today is Keystone Kop-like, by any measure of objectivity. Whether you want to say it is good or bad is irrelevant, but it was Keystone Kops. And that's scary."
When Anahita Avestaei’s father died in Iran earlier this month, she couldn’t attend his funeral. Blacklisted from returning to Iran due to her work with a human rights NGO, the 30-year old had been granted asylum in the United States two years after arriving as a law student in 2010. Unable to go home after her father’s death, she made plans to meet with her mother in a third country in the coming weeks — in the hopes of at least mourning together.
But now, thanks to President Trump’s executive order restricting the travel rights of Iranian nationals and others, those plans have been cancelled. Not only will she be unable to meet her mother, her future in the United States is being called into question by the major policy changes being enacted by the Trump administration.
Although Avestaei has a green card, she is now unable to travel outside the United States for fear of being barred from reentry. “I thought I was going to see my mom soon, but now it can’t happen,” Avestaei told me. “I really wish would not wish this feeling on anyone. To lose a family member while you are abroad and can’t come home. You feel guilty, as though you abandoned your family.”
Avestaei is just one of countless ordinary people whose lives have been upended by Trump’s recent actions. Despite widespread public outcry, more changes may be one the way. Trump’s executive order specifically targets nationals of Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. But in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that the order could expand in the near future, hinting that countries like Egypt and Pakistan may be targeted as well.
Priebus gave conflicting information in his interview about the impact on green card holders currently residing in the United States. A Department of Homeland Security statement earlier this weekend said that the measures would apply to green cards. But a statement issued later in the day by DHS Secretary John Kelley said that all lawful permanent residents should be granted the ability to enter the country, absent “significant derogatory information.” Amid widespread fear and confusion, many immigration attorneys have been advising clients who are not U.S. citizens to avoid traveling outside the country.
Iranian nationals in the United States — due to their precarious political situation and large diaspora — are among the groups most impacted by these new measures. The Iranian diaspora in the United States numbers in the hundreds of thousands, many of whom arrived after the 1979 revolution in that country. Partly as a consequence of geopolitical tensions, the U.S. has long been a haven for Iranian dissidents and activists fleeing their government.
But following Trump’s exclusion order, the position of vulnerable Iranians living in the U.S. has rapidly deteriorated. Unable to travel outside the country and facing the possibility of having their green cards annulled in the future, people like Avestaei have suddenly been trapped in a dangerous legal gray zone.
Part of the problem has been the chaos and confusion with which the executive orders have been issued. Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) criticized the administration for repeatedly changing its messaging on the facts surrounding the executive order. “This is really banana-republic style,” Parsi said. “It was already extremely difficult for Iranians to get into the United States.”
Trump’s executive order also extends to dual-nationals of other countries, with the result that even prominent Western political figures with roots in Iran and other targeted countries have now found themselves barred from entry.
Due to the huge number of Iranians resident in the United States and their often difficult political relationship with their home country, Parsi said that, “Iranian Americans are affected more than anyone else [by the executive order], almost more than everyone else combined.”
On its website, NIAC issued a statement calling on the Trump administration to permit a grace period in the executive order to “enable all lawful permanent residents, dual nationals and visa holders from Iran and the other targeted countries to return to the United States to reunite with their families and return to their daily lives.”
But despite massive protests and legal challenges, the administration has signaled that it will fight efforts to halt the ban, while working to expand it.
For Anahita Avestaei, Trump’s executive order has called into question the new life she has been trying to build in the United States upon receiving asylum here. After originally arriving here to complete her legal studies, she was unexpectedly banished from returning to Iran after running afoul of the government by volunteering with a human rights group in the United States. Now she faces a future where she is both endangered in Iran and unwelcome in the U.S.
“Its not easy to leave your home, to leave your family, your neighbors, your cat. I never expected that I would have to leave them and make a new life here, but I have been trying,” she told me. “But now to have the country that you’re wishing to be your new home do everything it can to tell you that you are not welcome, that you’re not wanted here, it is too emotionally draining.”
“I can never feel safe anymore and it feels terrible. It is the worst feeling ever.”
New York Times
Silicon Valley’s Ambivalence Toward Trump Turns to Anger
SAN FRANCISCO — On Friday morning, Silicon Valley was largely ambivalent about President Trump. The software programmers, marketing experts and chief executives might not have voted for him, but they were hopeful about finding common ground with the new administration.
By Saturday night, much of that optimism had yielded to anger and determination.
Mr. Trump’s executive order late on Friday temporarily blocked all refugees while also denying entry to citizens of Iran, Iraq and five other predominantly Muslim countries. The directives struck at the heart of Silicon Valley’s cherished values, its fabled history and, not least, its embrace-the-world approach to customers. Two worldviews collided: the mantra of globalization that underpins the advance of technology and the nationalistic agenda of the new administration.
In response, a significant part of the tech community went to the barricades.
Netflix’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, wrote on Facebook that Mr. Trump’s actions “are so un-American it pains us all” and that “it is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”
Brian Chesky, the chief executive of Airbnb, made the same point. “We must stand with those who are affected,” he wrote on Twitter.
Sergey Brin, a Google founder who immigrated from the Soviet Union when he was 6, seemed to take that suggestion literally, attending an impromptu protest on Saturday evening at San Francisco International Airport. When some of the demonstrators realized that the 10th-richest man in America was with them, they asked for selfies. He good-naturedly
The tech companies’ reaction was more forceful than that of other industries. Just about everyone in Silicon Valley came from somewhere else or is a son or daughter of someone who did or is married to someone who did.
That list starts with the most famous Silicon Valley citizen of all: Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder, whose biological father immigrated from Syria in 1954. Mr. Trump’s order proclaimed that “the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States” and would be suspended indefinitely.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said that his great-grandparents had come from Germany, Austria and Poland and that the parents of his wife, Priscilla Chan, were refugees from China and Vietnam.
“Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook on Friday.
Even some of those working closely with the Trump administration were critical. Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, who sits on two of Mr. Trump’s advisory committees, wrote on Twitter that the ban was “not the best way to address the country’s challenges.” Mr. Musk was born in South Africa.
Aaron Levie, chief executive of the data storage company Box, wrote on Twitter that “on every level — moral, humanitarian, economic, logical, etc. — this ban is wrong and is completely antithetical to the principles of America.”
Over all, Mr. Levie said in an interview, “there was a pretty resounding response from the tech industry showing how unacceptable this is.”
Beyond family heritage and employment, he noted, Silicon Valley cares about immigration because its companies strive to operate everywhere in the world.
“Almost every company’s products — Google, Apple, Airbnb — has a global customer base,” Mr. Levie said. “These policy decisions have real implications to our partners, our customers, our competitors.”
The Trump administration is little more than a week old, but its relationship with Silicon Valley is already complicated. The tech industry did not like Mr. Trump the presidential candidate, despite his embrace of Twitter, and he returned the sentiment with caustic posts on the platform. Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, said in 2015 that “two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia,” an incorrect statement that many in Silicon Valley perceived as racist.
Yet a much-promoted December meeting between the incoming administration and numerous tech chieftains was decidedly upbeat. “We’re going to be there for you,” Mr. Trump promised to a room that included the leaders of Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.
By early last week, the companies sensed trouble.
Murtadha al-Tameemi, 24, an Iraqi-born software engineer at Facebook, was told by a company lawyer on Tuesday that he needed to cut short a visit to Canada and return to the United States. The company feared that he would not be readmitted to the country because the president was expected to sign an executive order that would keep him out.
“It may be my naïveté about how politics and industries interact, but I don’t interpret the tech community’s opposition to the president as a political stance,” Mr. Tameemi said. “It seemed more like a matter of values and a matter that impacts them.”
The larger tech companies tended to be less forceful in their reactions to the executive order than the smaller ones. Google said it was “concerned.” Apple said, “It is not a policy we support.” Amazon said only that it was committed to diversity. Oracle did not respond to requests for comment.
On the other hand, Microsoft became more forceful as the weekend went on. On Saturday, its executives talked mostly about the virtues of immigration. On Sunday night, the company issued a statement calling the executive order “misguided and a fundamental step backwards” and said it would create “collateral damage to the country’s reputation and values.”
Microsoft was not the only company to become bolder in a few hours. Around 10 a.m. on Saturday, Mr. Chesky of Airbnb posted a vague message on Twitter saying “open doors bring all of US together.” By 6 p.m., he was advocating open protest. Early Sunday morning, he wrote a memo to employees warning that Mr. Trump’s new policy was “a direct obstacle to our mission.”
Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing
It was a long, dizzying day for an industry that is struggling to find its footing under the new president. “It feels like the air itself has changed, like when a storm comes,” said Shervin Pishevar, a founder of Sherpa Capital and Hyperloop One.
Even before the executive order, pressure had been building on companies to speak out against measures being endorsed by Mr. Trump. Some of that impetus came from employees, and some from activists.
Engineers and product managers at several tech companies spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. They have signed nondisclosure agreements at their companies and are generally not authorized to speak to the news media.
At Twitter, a number of workers felt frustrated with the disconnect between their company’s product — a platform for free speech — and the extent to which Mr. Trump has used it to attack those who question him and proclaim outright falsehoods to the American public. On Saturday, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, posted and reposted numerous messages denouncing the travel ban.
At Facebook, employees felt a similar sense of discord. Some complained about how long it took Mr. Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, to speak out. Others were upset at the continued presence of Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist and a longtime confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg’s, as a director on Facebook’s board. Mr. Thiel was a donor to Mr. Trump's campaign and has since become an adviser, and he issued a statement on Saturday evening that reaffirmed his support for the president.
Uber is under one of the brightest spotlights. Travis Kalanick, its chief executive, is part of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory team.
That has made Uber a target of protesters, some of whom shut down access to its headquarters on Inauguration Day.
In an email to employees on Saturday titled “Standing up for what’s right,” Mr. Kalanick stressed the importance of pushing for change by working to have a seat at the table and discussing any differences. He said he would be seeing Mr. Trump on Friday.
As protesters at Kennedy International Airport in New York multiplied on Saturday night, cabdrivers — largely immigrants — began a one-hour work stoppage at the airport as a form of protest against the executive order.
Uber did not follow suit. Instead, it posted on Twitter that it was suspending surge pricing at Kennedy Airport. That prompted accusations that it was trying to break the strike, which the company awkwardly denied in another Twitter post.
On Sunday morning, its competitor Lyft said it was donating $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years “to defend our Constitution.” On Sunday afternoon, Uber sharpened its criticism of the ban, calling it “wrong and unjust.”
Sam Altman, who runs Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s most prominent start-up incubator, said things were changing so fast that it was hard to predict what was going to happen.
“After the election, a lot of people here said give Trump a chance in good faith, and after he started, a lot of people said give him a chance in good faith,” Mr. Altman said. “Now they are looking at his policies and saying he is a risk to the republic. Saturday was a good beginning, and I think there is more to come.”
Mr. Altman spoke as he was arriving at the airport in San Francisco on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. The protest was continuing, and he intended to join.
New York Times
Tech Companies Fight Trump Immigration Order in Court
SEATTLE — Technology executives have for days assailed President Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries, framing their arguments largely in moral terms.
On Monday, two tech companies — Amazon and Expedia — stepped up their opposition to the order with filings that were part of a lawsuit in federal court against the Trump administration, arguing that the order will hurt their businesses.
The filings represent an escalation of the technology industry’s efforts to push back on the order signed by Mr. Trump on Friday night. There was little sign of the outcry over the order diminishing throughout the industry, as employees at Google staged demonstrations in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Amazon and Expedia made declarations supporting a lawsuit filed against the Trump administration in federal court Monday night in Seattle by Washington State’s attorney general. The lawsuit, part of a growing wave of legal challenges to the immigration ban across the country, asked the court to declare key parts of the executive order unconstitutional.
Expedia argued that the executive order hurt its ability to recruit employees from overseas, and it also could undermine the core of the company’s business as an internet travel company.
“Expedia believes that the executive order jeopardizes its corporate mission and could have a detrimental impact on its business and employees, as well as the broader U.S. and global travel and tourism industry,” Robert Dzielak, the company’s general counsel, wrote in the filing.