DENVER - A full time student at the Community College of Denver, who is from Libya, is claiming victory in the lawsuit he filed over President Trump's initial travel ban.
The travel ban went into effect January 27. It imposed a 90 day ban on immigration from 7 predominantly Muslim countries, including Libya.
"When President Trump first signed the executive order I was like why is this happening," questioned Zakaria Hagig. "What did I do? Why are my movements constrained? What if I want to travel back to Libya to visit my family?"
Hagig, 24, is in the United States on a student Visa. He left his family and friends behind in Libya and came to the United States for a better education in late 2014. He enrolled at the Community College of Denver in early 2015 and will earn his associates degree this May. He hopes to move onto a four year school to continue his education.
He says when he came here he never imagined he would be filing a lawsuit against the President. He had reservations about filing suit and its potential impact on him.
"To be completely honest with you I was super nervous," Hagig said. "I told Alan [his attorney] are you listening to yourself? A Libyan student suing the President of the United States, like I don't know if i can do this."
Ultimately he says he received a lot of support from friends, family, and teachers and decided to take a stand for himself and others in similar situations.
"I was looking at the bigger picture and why I'm doing this," Hagig said. "It's standing for everyone. It's not just about me. It's about me and everyone who's in my shoes."
Hagig and his attorneys officially filed suit against the President on January 31. They argued that his executive order violated his 5th and 15th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.
His was one of several legal challenges against the ban. Eventually a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit blocked the travel ban.
"The 9th Circuit decision was critical in putting a nationwide temporary restraining order on the first executive order," said Hagig's attorney Alan Kennedy-Shaffer.
The White House went back to the drawing board and issued a new version of the ban that exempted visa holders like Hagig.
The Justice Department filed an official response to Hagig's lawsuit, informing him that he would not be affected by the new executive order, which was blocked by a legal challenge before ever taking effect. Hagig and his attorney consider it a victory.
"The Justice Department notice in our case was as close to an admission by the Trump administration that what they were doing was unconstitutional illegal and un-American," said Kennedy-Shaffer. "By taking back the first executive order and construing the second executive order so narrowly as to not apply to any of the people who had sued to challenge the first executive order the Trump administration is basically saying we don't want to see you in court."
Hagig says he's proud he was able to make a difference.
"We were very happy when we won the case because actually it shows your voice is heard and our effort didn't go for nothing," said Hagig. "We got our right back because no one is above the law."
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