ADL Files Amicus Brief in Support of Challenge to President’s Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees

Files Amicus Brief Urging Court of Appeals to Refuse Enforcement of Muslim Ban

New York, NY, February 6, 2017...The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit supporting the State of Washington’s challenge to President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and refugees.

ADL’s brief urges the court to block enforcement of the order, asserting that implementation would almost certainly cause “irreparable harm to countless people.” 

“When America has closed its doors and allowed its core values to be compromised, the country later looked back in shame,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO.  “When we stray from our core principles, we are left to apologize to individuals and their descendants who had suffered, and posthumously to those who have tragically lost their lives as a result. This case reminds us to fulfill the promise of learning from our mistakes.”

The brief traces America’s history as a nation dedicated to ideals of equality, liberty and justice, noting that throughout U.S. history, and often with respect to immigration, our ideals have been tested. “Sometimes the nation has risen to the challenge,” the brief observes, but at other times, “when prejudice and fear predominate over reason and compassion, we falter, often with devastating consequences.”       

“America has always been at its best when it opens its doors to refugees and immigrants,” the brief notes, while citing several examples in history where the nation did not live up to the ideal of America as a nation of immigrants.

“Our country is at its best when it honors its commitments to its core values,” said John Harris, ADL Legal Affairs Committee Chair and primary author of the ADL brief. “This nation has been and should be a beacon of hope for refugees from war-torn countries and for victims of persecution.  Many of these refugees have contributed immeasurably to the fabric of America.”

The ADL brief points to three specific examples:

  • The tragedy of the vessel St. Louis, filled with Jews fleeing the Nazis who were turned away from America’s shores in 1939 and sent back to Europe, where many of the passengers perished in the Holocaust;
  • The “Chinese Exclusion,” when a series of laws led to the exclusion of thousands of Chinese laborers in the 1800s; and
  • The internment of Japanese during World War II, when approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, including 70,000 citizens, were sent to internment camps in the United States in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The brief concludes that enforcing the Executive Order “risks once again sacrificing the nation’s core values in favor of prejudice and fear – a sacrifice that history has repeatedly proven has profound consequences both to the persons who suffer as a result and to the still-vibrant vision of the shining city on the hill.”

The law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC prepared the brief on behalf of ADL and the law firm Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP served as local counsel in the 9th Circuit.


The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

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