'Negative impacts of the travel ban have been felt around our nation,' ABA president says
Protest rally at the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2018. Image from Shutterstock.com.
On Wednesday, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez urged leaders of the judiciary committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate to ensure that the waiver provision of Presidential Proclamation 9645, known as the “travel ban,” is implemented.
In her letter, Martinez pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Trump v. Hawaii in 2018 that the ban “does not reflect an anti-Muslim bias” due in part to the existence of a provision that authorizes “case-by-case waivers.”
However, she said, recent U.S. Department of State data shows that consular officers ruled on nearly 38,000 visa applications filed by people who were subject to the ban but still qualified for visas with the waivers during the first 11 months of the ban. She said a “shocking 94% of those applications were denied.”
Martinez added that the number of visas issued to nationals of the five Muslim-majority countries that were subject to the ban decreased by 84%, from 25,538 to 4,167, from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal 2018.
“One of the serious issues is that the case-by-case waiver program lacks transparency,” Martinez said in the letter. “There is no separate application form, and some of those seeking waivers report that evidence of eligibility they try to proffer is rejected.”
Martinez urged Congress to mandate congressional consultation and periodic reporting on the program and to call on the Departments of State and the Department of Homeland Security to publish specific instructions and criteria for people applying for waivers and their counsels.
“The negative impacts of the travel ban have been felt around our nation and the world and across a broad spectrum of the population—including families, students and businesses,” she said. “We must ensure that individuals who may be eligible have a fair and transparent process to seek a waiver.”
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