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Case Name Tawfeeq v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security IM-GA-0008
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-00353 ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Special Collection Trump Travel Ban Challenges
Case Summary
This case is different from many of the other cases in the Travel Ban collection as it challenged the legality of the executive order as applied to ... read more >
This case is different from many of the other cases in the Travel Ban collection as it challenged the legality of the executive order as applied to lawful permanent residents, instead of arguing that the executive order was invalid on its face.

On January 30, 2017, a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S., represented by private counsel, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (in Atlanta). The plaintiff claimed that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents held him for questioning at the Atlanta International Airport, upon his arrival from a trip to Iraq, on January 29, 2017. The plaintiff further alleged that this questioning was performed pursuant to President Trump’s January 27, 2017, Executive Order (EO-1), prohibiting non-U.S. citizen nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from gaining entry to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CBP, and several agents and officers of these federal agencies were named as defendants.

The plaintiff, Mohammed Abdullah Tawfeeq, was born in Iraq, resettled in the U.S. as a refugee, and became a LPR in 2013. At the time the complaint was filed, Tawfeeq worked as the Manager of the International Desk for CNN. Tawfeeq was based at CNN's Atlanta bureau and traveled to the Middle East regularly for his work as a reporter.

The plaintiff argued that regardless of the validity of EO-1’s immediate suspension of “every entry to the U.S.” by individuals “visiting temporarily,” EO-1 facially violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of Procedural Due Process as applied to LPRs and green card holders returning after a brief trip abroad. The complaint stated that LPRs, like the plaintiff, were entitled to greater procedural protections under the INA than non-immigrant non-citizens. According to the complaint, the airport questioning on January 29, 2017, began with a CBP officer notifying Tawfeeq that he could be denied entry to the country as a result of recently signed EO-1. CBP officers questioned Tawfeeq about the purposes of his trip to Iraq, sent the plaintiff to secondary questioning, and made the plaintiff wait for over 30 minutes before informing him that he could enter the country.

The complaint described this screening procedure conducted by CBP as an “improper analysis” of whether the plaintiff was entitled to a “case-by-case” exception to EO-1. Despite the fact that Tawfeeq was told he could enter the country at the Atlanta Airport, he alleged that the INA required the CBP officials to conclude that: 1) EO-1 was inapplicable to the plaintiff as the President did not have authority under Section 212(f) of the INA to suspend entry to LPRs who do not meet statutorily specified disqualifying conditions (like engaging in illegal activity after departing the U.S.), and 2) as an LPR, Tawfeeq was not a non-citizen seeking “admission to the U.S” and was not a proper subject for screening procedures pursuant to EO-1. Tawfeeq argued that without an injunction from a federal court, the federal government could begin applying EO-1 to “bar or otherwise encumber” the return of LPRs to the U.S. and that this possibility threatened to harm the plaintiff personally as he regularly traveled internationally for his work as a journalist. In addition to the civil complaint, the plaintiff filed a petition for mandamus directing inspection of returning LPRs under the INA rather than under the Executive Order. The plaintiff also sought attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (5 U.S.C. §504 and 28 U.S.C. §2412(d).

The case was assigned to District Judge Timothy Batten. On February 1, 2017, the plaintiff filed an emergency motion to expedite proceedings. The government filed a motion to dismiss on February 7. Though the motion to dismiss is not accessible on PACER, the the plaintiff’s February 27 response to it indicates that the government argued that the claims were moot because of a White House Counsel memorandum that interpreted EO-1 to exclude LPRs, a DHS press release regarding the memorandum, and a federal district court order from Massachusetts declining to extend a temporary restraining order as a result of the memorandum.

District Judge Batten denied the motion to expedite proceedings in an order dated February 10, 2017. In that order, the district court cited the February 3 temporary restraining order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in the Washington v. Trump case. The district court explained that because the federal government was already enjoined from enforcing the “pertinent portions” of EO-1 and the plaintiff had not shown “immediate plans to leave the country,” expedited proceedings were unnecessary.

As discussed above, Tawfeeq responded to the government’s motion to dismiss on February 27, 2017 but due to developments in the Washington case, the President rescinded EO-1 and replaced it with a narrower order, Executive Order 13780 (EO-2).

On March 23, 2017, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint challenging EO-2’s Sections 1(g) which applied greater scrutiny to Iraqi nationals during the visa issuance/U.S. admissions process; 2 which temporarily suspended entry into the U.S. by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen; and 4 which provided that applications for visa/admissions/any immigration benefit by Iraqi nationals should be "subjected to thorough review". Specifically, Tawfeeq alleged that no section of EO-2 removed Iraqi LPR's from the "additional scrutiny" and "thorough review" requirements so that like EO-1, this order violated the INA, APA, and his Procedural Due Process rights. Tawfeeq sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as a writ of mandamus instructing DHS to instruct its employees inspecting non-citizens at U.S. points of entry to exclude returning Iraqi resident immigrants from the new screening terms under the EO.

On April 24, 2017, the government filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. The parties filed a joint preliminary report and discovery plan on July 7. Later in July, the parties noted their disagreement over the discovery deadlines, and discovery was stayed pending the district court's ruling on the April 24 motion to dismiss.

On August 11, 2017, District Judge Batten granted the government’s April 24 motion to dismiss the amended complaint. First, the court held that Tawfeeq lacked standing to challenge Section 1(g) which the plaintiff acknowledged would only apply to him if erroneously implemented, and the court would not presume that the law would be erroneously implemented. Second, the plaintiff’s challenge to Section 2 was also dismissed on standing grounds as it did not apply to Iraqi nationals or LPRs. Lastly, the court determined that Tawfeeq’s challenge to Section 4 was too speculative to grant standing. Finally, the court determined that the revocation of EO-1 rendered Tawfeeq's claims challenging its application to LPRs moot. 309 F. Supp. 3d 1350. This order ended the case.

Ava Morgenstern - 02/22/2017
Julie Aust - 08/13/2017
Esteban Woo Kee - 11/19/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Right to travel
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Religion discrimination
General
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Immigration/Border
Admission - criteria
Admission - procedure
Border police
Constitutional rights
National Origin/Ethnicity
Arab/Afgani/Middle Eastern
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361
Defendant(s) U.S. Customs and Border Patrol
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff was born in Iraq, resettled in the U.S. as a refugee, and became a legal permanent resident in 2013. At the time the complaint was filed, he worked as the Manager of the International Desk for CNN. The plaintiff was based at CNN's Atlanta bureau and traveled to the Middle East regularly for his work as a reporter.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 01/30/2017
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Presidential Executive Order on Resuming the United States Refugee Admissions Program with Enhanced Vetting Capabilities
Federal Register
Date: Oct. 24, 2017
By: United States
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats
Federal Register
Date: Sep. 24, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence
Date: Jun. 14, 2017
By: Donald Trump (White House)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States
Federal Register
Date: Mar. 6, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (President of the United States)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Memorandum to the Acting Secretary of State, the Acting Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security
The White House
Date: Feb. 1, 2017
By: Donald F. McGahn II, Counsel to the President (The White House)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Statement by Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
https://www.nytimes.com/
Date: 1/30/2017
By: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Statement By Secretary John Kelly on the Entry of Lawful Permanent Residents into the United States
https://www.dhs.gov/
Date: 1/29/2017
By: DHS Secretary John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security)
Citation: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/01/29/statement-secretary-john-kelly-entry-lawful-permanent-residents-united-states
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
Federal Register
Date: Jan. 27, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ga.
08/11/2017
1:17-cv-353
IM-GA-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Ga.
01/30/2017
Complaint for Declaratory, Mandamus, and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-GA-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
02/01/2017
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion to Expedite Proceedings [ECF# 5]
IM-GA-0008-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
02/02/2017
Order [ECF# 15]
IM-GA-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
02/10/2017
Order [ECF# 22]
IM-GA-0008-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
02/21/2017
Order [ECF# 24]
IM-GA-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
02/27/2017
Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 25]
IM-GA-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
03/09/2017
Joint Motion to Reset Deadlines [ECF# 27]
IM-GA-0008-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
03/13/2017
Order [ECF# 28]
IM-GA-0008-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
03/22/2017
Order [ECF# 31]
IM-GA-0008-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
03/22/2017
Opposition to Motion for Leave to File as Amicus Curaie [ECF# 32]
IM-GA-0008-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
03/23/2017
Amended Complaint for Declaratory, Mandamus, and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 33]
IM-GA-0008-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
05/08/2017
Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 37]
IM-GA-0008-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
06/06/2017
Defendants' Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 40]
IM-GA-0008-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
08/11/2017
Order [ECF# 46] (309 F.Supp.3d 1350)
IM-GA-0008-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Batten, Timothy C. Sr. (N.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0002 | IM-GA-0008-0004 | IM-GA-0008-0007 | IM-GA-0008-0008 | IM-GA-0008-0013 | IM-GA-0008-0014 | IM-GA-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hampe, Carl W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0001 | IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0009 | IM-GA-0008-0010 | IM-GA-0008-0011 | IM-GA-0008-9000
Moser, Theresia Maria (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0001 | IM-GA-0008-0003 | IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0009 | IM-GA-0008-0010 | IM-GA-0008-0011 | IM-GA-0008-9000
Pierce, Daniel P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0001 | IM-GA-0008-0005 | IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0009 | IM-GA-0008-0010 | IM-GA-0008-0011 | IM-GA-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Peachey, William Charles (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0012
Readler, Chad Andrew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0012
Reuveni, Erez (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0012
Wall, Sheetul Sheth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0012 | IM-GA-0008-9000
Westwater, Gisela Ann (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-0006 | IM-GA-0008-0012
Other Lawyers Williams, Victor (Maryland) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0008-9000

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