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Ibrahim v. Department of Homeland Security

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Amicus brief in support of plaintiff challenging her inclusion on the no-fly list and seeking damages.


The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard argument in the case on May 9, 2011. A panel of the Court of Appeals reversed the district court (by a two to one vote) and remanded the case for further proceedings on February 8, 2012.


Plaintiff Rahinah Ibrahim is a Muslim woman and a citizen of Malaysia who was a doctoral student at Stanford University writing her thesis on affordable housing. She has neither a criminal record nor link to terrorists. Nonetheless, she was included on the No-Fly list, supposedly based on secret evidence. As a result of her presence on the No-Fly list, she was arrested in front of her young daughter when she showed up for a flight to visit Malaysia; eventually she was released and allowed to board. However, her inclusion on the list was then used to revoke her student visa, and she was prohibited from returning to Stanford to complete her degree.
The district court originally dismissed her claims but was reversed by the Ninth Circuit, which ruled she could proceed against the federal “Terrorist Screening Center” that places names on the list, and one individual, a contractor for the federal government who had instructed the police to arrest Ibrahim, but remanded for a determination of whether Ibrahim had alleged a concrete enough injury to maintain standing to bring the claim against the federal agency. On remand, the government argued that Ibraham has no standing to bring claims regarding her inclusion on the No-Fly List because her inability to return to the United States was a result of the revocation of her visa, not of the placement of her name on the No-Fly List. Moreover, the government argued, as a non-citizen now no longer living inside the United States, Ibrahim lacks constitutional rights, and therefore has no constitutional right (nor standing to assert any such rights) upon which the courts may ground an order removing her from the No-Fly list. The district court agreed with the latter argument. Those issues are now pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
CCR signed onto an amicus brief, submitted to the Ninth Circuit in October 2010, along with a number of other groups (the Asian Law Caucus, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Asian American Justice Center, South Asian Americans Leading Together, Sikh American Legal Defense Fund, South Asian Network, Asian American Institute, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and Sikh Coalition). The brief argues that non-citizens outside of the United States are not categorically outside the protection of the United States Constitution.
Veena Dubal of the Asian Law Caucus and Sujal Shah of Bingham McCutchen LLP drafted the brief.