An Iranian-American wanted the government to tell him if his detention and search at airports was due to being erroneously placed on terror watchlists, but a federal appeals court said it can’t force an answer to that question – yet.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday a federal judge in Los Angeles must hear Raymond Arjmand’s case first because the appeals court is that the right place to take an initial appeal from the Department of Homeland Security, despite what the department told Arjmand.
Arjmand, who is a U.S. citizen born in Iran, was detained for two hours along with his wife before bording a flight to the U.S. from Canada. About a year later, he was subject to another search and lengthy delay at Los AngelesInternationalAirport after he and his family returned from a vacation in Mexico.
Arjmand stopped traveling abroad, fearing additional embarrassing delays, according to the court.
He filed a complaint through the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, fearing that he was mistakenly included on a government watchlist.
In response, DHS sent him a letter stating it reviewed his case and made any necessary corrections, but did not disclose his status or explain why he was subject to added border screening.
Nor did it promise an end to travel delays. He was advised to appeal any challenge to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
But the 9th Circuit ruled it cannot take up direct appeals from DHS and sent his case ot eh the trial court in Los Angeles.
The law does not grant circuit courts jurisdiction to review orders issued by the Transportation Security Administration.
“Although this court lacks original jurisdiction over Arjmand’s claims, the jurisdiction defects that prevent us from hearing Arjmand’s claims would not exist in a district court,” said Judge Dorothy Nelson and ordered the case to the Los Angeles court.
She was joined by Judges Richard Paez and Jacqueline Nguyen.
Case: Arjmand v. DHS, No/ 12-71748