Represented by the ACLU of Washington, the students claim the order invalidating their non-immigrant visas is unconstitutional.
Two University of Washington students filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday, saying an executive order temporarily blocking immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries and all refugees from entering the country is unconstitutional.
According to the complaint, the executive order invalidated non-immigrant visas obtained by the two unnamed students, who both are pursuing advanced degrees.
“They [students] came to Washington state lawfully and have already been subjected to rigorous screening and vetting by the U.S. before their entry,” said Emily Chiang, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. The order is causing them unnecessary hardships, she said.
One of the plaintiffs, identified only as “John Doe,” is a doctoral candidate, studying aeronautical and astronautic engineering. A resident of Iran, he first arrived in the United States in 2012. As a result of the executive order, he is no longer able to travel outside of the country to pursue academic work, the documents state.
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The second student, identified in court documents as “Jane Doe,” is an Iranian national who came to the United States in September 2016 after obtaining a student visa. As a result of the executive order, she may not be able to pursue internships outside of the United States for fear that she would not be able to return to Seattle, according to the lawsuit.
Both plaintiffs are pursuing the lawsuit anonymously for fear of retaliation, the documents state.
They are joined in the lawsuit by the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, which is providing resettlement support to nearly two dozen refugee families, the documents state. According to the suit, the families were already approved for travel to the United States when the executive order was signed.
The students are represented by the ACLU of Washington, which is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.
The suit comes as federal authorities have called for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the controversial travel ban.
In a 20-page brief filed with the court, Department of Justice lawyers argue that President Donald Trump was acting within his authority when he signed the executive order late last month.
A federal judge in Seattle placed a temporary hold on the execution of the order last week, as a result of a lawsuit filed by Washington state and Minnesota.
The appeal is being considered by a panel of three 9th Circuit judges based in Phoenix, Honolulu and the Bay Area, according to the court’s website.
Oral arguments are set for 3 p.m. PST Tuesday.