Muslim Advocates, along with the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Syrian family. In 2017, the family—whose identity has not been made public in order to ensure their safety and are referred to as John and Jane Does in court documents—were denied immigrant visa stamps despite having previously been approved for visas, causing them several months of emotional distress and putting them in immediate danger. The lawsuit argued that their treatment by the U.S. government violated the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act and was caused by an incorrect application of President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban.
In January 2004, Jane Doe #1 submitted an application to allow her sister, Jane Doe #2, and her sister’s husband and four children, to immigrate to the United States. After a long wait, the family’s visas were finally ready to be processed at the beginning of 2017.
By February 2017, the family was told that their visas had been approved, and that they should submit her family’s passports for immigrant visa stamps, which they should expect to receive within a week of submitting their passports. However, in March 2017, the family was told that they should not expect to receive passports with visas until further notice, likely due to President Trump’s executive order travel ban.
During this delay, the family incurred significant costs, both financially and emotionally. When they were told their visas would be approved within a week, the sole breadwinner of the family resigned from his job, their children left school, and they all moved to Lebanon in anticipation of immigrating to the United States. Because of the delays, their legal status in Lebanon expired and they were forced to remain here while waiting for their visas to be issued.
In July 2017, the family eventually made the decision to return to Syria because they could not continue to live in limbo and put their family in jeopardy.
After several months of delay, and given the ordeal the family had already been through, they decided not to proceed with the case, which was dismissed without prejudice.
Date filed: September 28, 2017
Court(s): United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Co-Counsel: Covington & Burling LLP