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California joins brief challenging travel ban to support Iraqi pair who worked for the U.S. government

President Trump's sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries was met with protests at U.S. airports. (Tribune News Service)
President Trump's sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries was met with protests at U.S. airports. (Tribune News Service)

California has joined a third amicus brief in support of a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s travel ban, this time backing two Iraqi visa holders who were detained by officers at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport despite having done work for the U.S. government.

State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra joined the friend-of-the-court brief filed in federal court in New York supporting the lawsuit by Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi.

The two men had been threatened with violence in Iraq due to work they and their families did for the U.S. government, Becerra said. Darweesh was denied entry while holding an Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa for which he was eligible due to his work as an interpreter and engineer for the U.S. in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

Alshawi was denied entry despite holding a “Follow to Join” visa in order to join his spouse and child, who are lawful permanent U.S. residents living in Houston.

“People who risked their lives by helping us in Iraq — and have undergone extensive vetting to come to the United States — deserve better,” Becerra said in a statement after joining 14 other states in filing supportive briefs in the case.

“When individuals stick their neck out for the United States, we should reward them by showing them that we have their back,” he added. “No patriotic American would expect anything less.”

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