Daily Labor Report®

Lawsuit Over Blanket Travel Ban Waiver Denials Remains Alive

Feb. 5, 2019, 2:01 PM

A group of 36 U.S. citizens, immigrants, and foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are moving forward with a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s alleged refusal to grant waivers to the president’s travel ban.

There’s evidence that only two waivers have been granted out of 8,406 travel ban-subject visa applications processed between Dec. 8, 2017, and Jan. 8, 2018, a rate of 0.02 percent, a federal judge in California said Feb. 4. A former consular officer also submitted a declaration that officers weren’t allowed discretion to grant or deny a waiver, and instead had to turn the decision over to State Department headquarters in Washington.

Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California refused to toss the proposed class action because it doesn’t challenge individual waiver decisions, which would be outside the court’s authority.

Instead, the complaint objects to what it says is a policy of blanket waiver denials, which would violate State Department procedures, Donato said. That’s something that the court can look into.

President Donald Trump’s travel ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2018, with the justices splitting 5-4 on the decision. The ban was the third version, issued after the first two were blocked by lower federal courts.

The ban affects both family-based immigrants and those seeking employment-based visas. One of the immigrants bringing the lawsuit is an Iranian national who had invested the required $500,000 to obtain an EB-5 immigrant investor visa, but was denied a waiver from the travel ban.

The case is Emami v. Nielsen, 2019 BL 36039, N.D. Cal., No. 3:18-cv-01587, 2/4/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura D. Francis in Washington at lfrancis@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

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