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Immigrant rights group files lawsuit against Trump ban

By GILLIAN FLACCUS
Of the Associated Press

PORTLAND — Immigrant rights groups filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in Portland seeking an injunction against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

Unite Oregon, a nonprofit made up of immigrants, refugees and people of color, filed the suit asking the court to prohibit the government from “unconstitutionally banishing” lawful immigrants or refugees who seek to return to their homes, jobs or reunite with families at Portland International Airport.

The suit asks that the order be declared unconstitutional and also seeks to allow people detained at the airport to be afforded access to legal help from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Mat dos Santos, legal director for the ACLU of Oregon, has signed the suit as has attorney Stephen Manning of the Immigration Law Group.

Pro bono attorneys in Portland have been helping from one to three people a day who called a hotline before they were detained by federal officials when they entered Portland International Airport or before they traveled, dos Santos said at a Wednesday news conference.

But ACLU's attorneys have repeatedly been denied access to travelers who are being questioned inside the airport, he said.

Trump's order, which has spurred protests nationwide, temporarily suspends the entire U.S. refugee program and bans all entry from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations for 90 days. The suit filed in Portland is the latest legal challenge. Washington state's attorney general sued Trump on Monday over the order.

Muwafaq Alkattan, an Iraqi refugee who arrived in Oregon with his wife and four daughters in 2012, said even though his family was already safely here, Trump's action was having a profound effect on them including fears that some of his family will never be able to visit them.

“It feels risky to be a refugee,” said Alkattan, who worked as a civil engineer in Iraq on a UNICEF program to rebuild that nation's schools. He now works for Unite Oregon.

The news conference also attracted some people from Portland's Iraqi refugee community, who came with questions about the future for green card applicants and those who want to apply for citizenship.

Ahmed Ali, who said he worked as a journalist in Iraq for years, came to the U.S. in 2015.

“People don't understand. No one saw this coming. They are panicked,” Ali said of his fellow Iraqi refugees. “What are we supposed to do?”

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