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July 1, 2010

Ayman Latif is a U.S. citizen and disabled Marine veteran living in Egypt with no way to travel to the United States, where he was born and raised, to introduce his new baby daughter to the rest of his family who still reside in the states. He also can’t take the required Veterans Administration exams to ensure he continues to receive the disability benefits he is due, after serving the U.S. for three years.

Raymond Knaeble is a U.S. citizen and Army veteran stuck in Colombia where he was visiting relatives after working for a military support company in Kuwait.

Adama Bah is a 22-year-old nanny living in New York who was granted refugee status at the age of 16 so she wouldn’t have to face persecution in Guinea, the country where she was born. But in the United States, she can’t board a plane to travel for work or fun.

What do these people have in common? They’re all on the U.S. government’s “No-Fly List,” and none of them know why. Yesterday Ayman, Raymond and Adama joined seven other U.S. citizens and legal residents in an ACLU lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional No Fly List, which strips people of the ability to fly into or from the United States or over U.S. air space. None of the plaintiffs on the lawsuit have been told why they are on the list or been given a chance to defend themselves.

The case and the plaintiffs are getting lots of great coverage. You can read more at the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and even the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Or watch the coverage from CNN’s The Situation Room and ABC’s Nightline (click on “No Fly List”). We enjoyed Nightline‘s nod to a recent episode of ABC’s Modern Family, in which pre-teen Manny is told by a TSA agent that he’s on the No-Fly List and can’t fly with his family to Hawaii:

TSA Agent: “What kind of business did you have in Japan?”
Manny: “I’ve never been to Japan.”
TSA Agent: “You didn’t go to Osaka in November 2003 to attend an electronics trade show?”
Manny: “I was four!”

Manny was lucky — on the show, the TSA agent assists Manny and he is able to board the plane. In reality, TSA agents have no such authority. In fact, the only way to get off the list is to fill out a form on the Department of Homeland Security’s website and hope that eventually a faceless, nameless bureaucrat on the other end will fix the error. As you might imagine, that doesn’t happen very often.

You can learn more about the No-Fly List and the 10 individuals we represent in the lawsuit online. While you’re there, send a letter to Congress asking them to rein in DHS travel abuses. And if you think you may be on the No-Fly List or have experienced another form of harassment at the airport, let us know.