Attorneys from Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America questioned government's reason for Muslim convert's inclusion on controversial list, suggest possible link to client's religious identity.
DALLAS (August 16, 2017) – Earlier this month, U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified Carl Kenemer, an American Muslim convert who lived abroad with his family for the past several years, that he is no longer on the No Fly List.
In December of 2016, Kenemer purchased a ticket at the Cairo International Airport to return to the United States, but was informed at the ticket counter the airline could not print his ticket. He was instructed to contact the U.S. Embassy, which he did via email.
The U.S. Embassy emailed Kenemer that "[t]here is no requirement for you to appear at the U.S. Embassy." Assuming this matter was cleared up, Kenemer booked another flight to his home in America.
While attempting to secure his ticket, the airline ticket counter representative told Kenemer that his name was on a list given to the airline by the U.S. Embassy and that he was not allowed to board the plane.
In late December, Kenemer submitted a DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) complaint in relation to his being barred twice from boarding flights back to the United States. The TSA instructed Kenemer to book a flight on an American airline and to inform the U.S. government of his itinerary at least two weeks in advance, which he did.
While Kenemer was able to return to the United States, he received a letter from the TSA in February stating that he was on the U.S. government's No Fly List. Because of his inclusion on this list, he was unable to fly overseas to reunite with his wife and two small children.
Attorneys from the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, a charitable constitutional rights law firm funded by Muslim Legal Fund of America, argued on Kenemer's behalf in a July 28, 2017, letter to the DHS that:
In the absence of any stated reason for DHS's actions, which are directly resulting in great personal harm to Mr. Kenemer, including involuntary separation from his wife and small children for over six months now, we have no reasonable option but to conclude that his religion (Muslim) is the true motivator of DHS action.
Three business days later, the DHS sent a letter informing CLCMA's client that he was no longer on the government's No Fly List and was able to travel by plane back to his family overseas.
"When a government agency takes action against its citizens based on their religious identity, this is a direct violation of our constitutional religious freedom," said Khalil Meek, executive director of Muslim Legal Fund of America. "This is a victory for religious freedom – not just for Muslims, but for all Americans."
Attorneys at CLCMA are also working on reuniting Kenemer's family in the United States.
About Muslim Legal Fund of America
Muslim Legal Fund of America is a national nonprofit charity that funds projects to defend constitutional rights in America. Established in 2001, MLFA has defending freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, right to an attorney, due process of law and many other constitutional rights.
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