36 People File Class Action Suit Against Administration for Wrongfully Denied Muslim Ban Waivers

First Legal Challenge to Muslim Ban Implementation Since Supreme Court Ruling

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Washington, DC – Today, Muslim Advocates, Lotfi Legal, LLC, the Immigrant Advocacy & Litigation Center, PLLC, and Public Counsel filed an amended complaint in a class action lawsuit on behalf of all individuals whose visa applications were wrongfully denied or stalled by the federal government’s failure to provide fair and meaningful access to case-by-case waivers from the travel ban.  The plaintiffs – 36 U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and Iranian, Libyan, Somali, Syrian, and Yemeni foreign nationals – come from all walks of life and have, without reason or justification, had waivers denied or stalled despite chronic medical conditions, prolonged family separations, significant business interests, or extraordinary talents that would contribute greatly to the United States in fields like medicine, science, and music.

Today’s filing represents the first challenge to the government’s ongoing implementation of President Trump’s Muslim Ban since the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2018 decision that affirmed the legality of the policy.

When President Trump issued the latest version of the Muslim Ban, he directed the federal agencies to promulgate guidance establishing when the issuance of a case-by-case waiver would be appropriate.  Even though it has been nearly a year since the President issued that directive, no such guidance has been issued or publicly promulgated, and the process remains mired in confusion. Applicants, attorneys, and organizations attempting to assist individuals impacted by the ban have reached out to the government for guidance and have received conflicting responses or no responses, and many have been told that their cases are not even being considered for grant of a waiver.

The importance of the case-by-case waiver process cannot be overstated:  it remains the only way that people blocked under the Muslim Ban can enter the United States.  As a result of the government’s failure to provide an orderly process and clear guidelines for waiver eligibility and adjudication, families are being separated, people are being denied life-saving medical treatment, and the United States is being denied the talents and abilities of individuals who seek to come here and contribute to our society.  Find out more about the plaintiffs – and the ways in which the failure of a meaningful waiver process is impacting their lives – here.

“The waiver process is the only hope for thousands of families seeking to be reunited.  But as Justice Breyer noted in his dissent in Trump v. Hawaii, by all indications, the process has been ‘a sham,’” said Sirine Shebaya, Senior Staff Attorney for Muslim Advocates. “The government should follow its own laws and put in place an orderly application process for full and fair adjudication of individual applications.”

“President Trump’s policies are tearing families apart. Whether it’s at embassies across the world or at the southern border, President Trump has made clear that he has no intention of letting deserving people into this country and that his only goal is to inflict pain on anyone he deems an outsider,” said Shabnam Lotfi of Lotfi Legal, LLC.  “But the Trump Administration created the waiver process, and our goal is to make sure that it’s a real process—one that is transparent, accessible, and applied in good faith.”

Today’s amended complaint was filed in Emami v. Nielsen, Case No. 18-1587, a matter pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.   

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.