Muslim group files lawsuit challenging Trump's travel ban

CAIR says suit represents 20 plaintiffs

ORLANDO, Fla. – Leaders of Florida's largest Muslim civil rights organization held a news conference Tuesday to answer questions about a federal lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's executive orders on immigration.

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CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, announced the filing of the lawsuit Monday on behalf of more than 20 plaintiffs, including CAIR-Florida Chief Executive Director Hassan Shibly.

"This is the time that we are truly making America great again by challenging this discriminatory, unjust, oppressive and illegal policy," Shibly said.  "We will make America great by making sure that it remains a free and just nation for all people, regardless of their race or religion."

The anti-terrorism executive order, which was signed last week, temporarily bans refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

The move has been met with protests across the country and with sharp criticism from Democrats.

"The order will make us less safe. The order will make us less humane. The order will make us less America," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Ida Eskamani, a legislative aide with Florida Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith's office, said many of those affected here in Central Florida are students.

"President Trump's executive order is an attack not just on our Muslim immigrants but an attack on our basic American values," Eskamani said on behalf of Rep. Smith. "Two hundred twenty three students at UCF and 25 Valencia college students from these affected countries have been warned not to leave the country to visit their family."

This includes UCF graduate and Oviedo resident Negin Alimohammadi. Even though she has a green card, she was held at the Orlando International Airport for hours this weekend after coming back from visiting her family in Iran.

"I spent the best six years of my life here establishing my future here based on the society and I wanted to be a part of this society and then suddenly an enforcing decision by one person was going to ruin that future for me," she said.

Now, Alimohammadi is planning on joining the fight against Trump's order.

"I will stand with them in their effort to stand for human rights and human values and do everything I can against discrimination," Alimohammadi said.

Despite the opposition, the Trump Administration maintains the order is about safety.

"You don't know when the next threat's coming. You don't know when the next attack's coming," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.  "The best you can do is to get ahead of it because if you wait, you're going to be reacting."

This comes on the same day the new acting US Attorney General Dana Boente said Trump's order is "lawful" and is calling for the Justice Department to defend it. 

Officials with CAIR said their lawsuit questions the constitutionality of the order, while helping those impacted.

"The way I see this lawsuit, it is really the law versus Donald Trump. It is the American traditional values of openness, human dignity, and respect versus Donald Trump," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.

About the Authors:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.