Groups Challenge the Waiver Component of Trump Administration’s Muslim Travel Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279, [email protected]

Groups Challenge the Waiver Component of Trump Administration’s Muslim Travel Ban

SEATTLE — In response to the June 26, 2018, U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, 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, have filed a class action lawsuit challenging the Muslim travel ban waiver process on behalf of organizational plaintiffs OneAmerica and PARS Equality Center, as well as individual plaintiffs from all of the Muslim-majority countries subject to the travel ban.

The current waiver process is inconsistent and arbitrary, and so few visa applicants have actually been granted a waiver, that the process by which waivers are supposedly granted has become mere window dressing for the ban itself. This lawsuit seeks to hold the Trump administration accountable for its failure to implement a good-faith, lawful, and constitutional waiver process so that families who qualify for waivers under the terms of the presidential proclamation that established the ban actually receive waivers and are issued visas.

“We will continue our fight against Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban, but, in the meantime, countless families are suffering needlessly due to the administration’s failure to implement a coherent visa waiver policy,” said Esther Sung, staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “We’re suing today to hold the Trump administration accountable.”

Since December 2017, countless individuals and families have been denied a visa and a waiver under the Muslim travel ban without notice of the process, an opportunity to submit evidence, or consideration under the waiver scheme. According to the U.S. State Department, only 2 percent of applicants have received waivers, and former U.S. consular officials have called the process “fraudulent.”

“The administration’s sham ‘waiver’ and its haphazard process have failed to provide a fair and meaningful opportunity for relief from the travel ban, which continues to separate families and upend lives,” said organizational plaintiff PARS Equality Center’s managing attorney. “The courts have been an important bulwark to protect the rights of those targeted by this administration’s discriminatory immigration policies, and we hope they continue in this important role today.”

The purpose of this lawsuit is to force the government to clarify and implement a waiver process for those individuals who would otherwise be permanently banned from entering the U.S. The plaintiffs are asking the court to require the government to provide a meaningful opportunity to access what is, for most, the only means to reunite with family under an otherwise permanent ban.

This lawsuit is part of a larger attempt to fight against the Muslim travel ban and represents affected communities for every Muslim-majority country targeted in the ban. Through this lawsuit and additional measures, the co-counsel organizations will continue to push for equity and accountability, and fight the travel ban through every possible avenue — in court, on the streets, and through mobilization and policy/legislative change. Having national travel bans on entire groups of people based on religious belief or countries of origin devalues America’s shared cultural emphases on equality and acceptance.

The complaint filed yesterday in PARS Equality Center, et al. v. Pompeo, et al. is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PARS-Equality-Ctr-v-Pompeo-complaint-2018-07-31.pdf.

The exhibits attached to the filed complaint are available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PARS-Equality-Ctr-v-Pompeo-complaint-exhibits-2018-07-31.pdf.

A recording of a telephonic press conference about this filing held earlier today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Muslim-ban-waiver-lawsuit-teleconf-2018-08-01.mp3.

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