San Francisco, CA – A court recently ordered the Biden administration to redress the ongoing harms of the Muslim Ban, which should lead to relief for those still seeking to secure visas after lengthy delays that have continued even after President Biden rescinded the ban.
The class action lawsuit was originally filed in 2018 and sought relief for individuals subject to the Ban who were unjustly denied a waiver. It was filed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Council on American-Islamic Relations – California, Iranian American Bar Association, Lane Powell PC, National Immigration Law Center, and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, in partnership with the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Washington State on behalf of OneAmerica, Pars Equality Center, and individual plaintiffs subject to the Ban.
The Biden administration had sought to claim that the case was moot as a result of the President’s January 2021 rescission of the Ban. However, Judge James Donato ruled “the plaintiffs have demonstrated that their visa applications were denied without the opportunity to apply under a properly-administered waiver process, and even if permitted to reapply, they will bear undue transactional costs, financial and otherwise, that they should not be required to bear for a second time…These are genuine injuries that continue to exist independent of the revocation, and which plaintiffs seek to remedy.”
Judge Donato then directed the administration to confer with the plaintiffs on how best to offer relief to impacted parties, including “the procedures the government will use (i) to confirm that affected applicants wish to have their applications reconsidered, as well as (ii) for those interested applicants to update their applications in a way that is least burdensome to the applicants but will still provide the government with any necessary updates that would be material to the government’s consideration of the applications.”
This ruling is significant in that it should provide relief for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit as well as tens of thousands – including many Iranian nationals – unjustly denied by Trump’s bans and stuck in administrative limbo under Biden. As NIAC has documented, and urged the Biden administration to correct, visa processing continues to lag and relief has not been provided to many families seeking to reunite after the Muslim ban. While the Biden administration could appeal the judge’s decision, it may have little incentive to do so.
The parties of the lawsuit will meet for a status conference on August 16 to discuss the Judge’s ruling and the steps that have been taken toward its implementation. The status conference could shed light on the administration’s position and the process it intends to take to offer relief to those impacted, in light of the judge’s decision.
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