Court Ruling Mandates New Process for Victims to Have Visa Applications Reconsidered
Washington, DC — On Monday, a federal judge ruled against the federal government and in favor of a group of Muslim Ban victims who were wrongfully denied visa waivers. The judge’s ruling mandates that the government must work with the victims to create a new process to have their stalled or rejected visa applications reconsidered without starting from scratch. The ruling is the result of consolidated lawsuits: Emami v. Blinken, filed on behalf of a group of Muslim Ban victims by Muslim Advocates, Lofti Legal LLC and Perkins Coie LLP, and a parallel case, Pars Equality Center v. Blinken.
One of the U.S. Supreme Court’s justifications for shamefully upholding the Muslim Ban was that a waiver process existed to ensure that people were not being unjustly denied entry into the U.S. Through the Emami lawsuit, a group of Muslim Ban victims who were denied such waivers—despite their chronic medical conditions, prolonged family separations and significant business interests—challenged the Trump administration’s claim that a functional visa waiver process existed. These victims continued to have their visa applications wrongfully stalled or rejected under the Biden administration, which falsely argued in court that the recision of the Muslim Ban negated their claims.
In Monday’s ruling, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California once and for all ruled that anyone whose visas were denied or stalled under the unlawful waiver process were still being harmed. The judge also mandated that the government must work with the Muslim Ban victims to create a process to have their visa applications reconsidered without having to spend considerable time and money starting the process all over again. This process could potentially benefit thousands of other Muslim Ban victims who have been denied visas under the Trump and Biden administrations.
“Rescinding the Muslim Ban was just step one. The judge’s ruling now requires the Biden administration to finish what it started and create a real pathway to reuniting the thousands of families who were illegally and cruelly separated by the Ban,” said Muslim Advocates Legal Fellow Chris Godshall-Bennett. “It’s an honor to represent families as they fight for fair consideration of their applications to be together and we won’t rest until all families wrongfully torn apart by the Muslim Ban are allowed to reunite. Further, we urge Congress to ensure that no president can enact discriminatory immigration bans like this again by passing the NO BAN Act.”
“We are thrilled that the court heard the pleas of our plaintiffs and saw through the government’s attempts to brush aside the very real harms inflicted by the Muslim Ban, which continues even after its rescission,” said Lofti Legal Attorney Shabnam Lofti. “While our plaintiffs have still not been made whole, this is a step in the right direction. We are hopeful that these families will finally be reunited.”
“I’m glad the court recognized that there is still more to do to cure the harm the ban caused to people denied visas and kept apart from their families,” said Perkins Coie Partner Eric Evans.
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.