Lawsuit filed on behalf of Green Card winners affected by Trump's travel ban

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the US State Department’s refusal to process visa applications to qualified immigrants from countries included in Donald Trump's travel ban.

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for refusing to issue visas to winners of the US Diversity Visa Program lottery on behalf of nationals of the six countries included in the travel ban, the organization announced on Friday.

“I won the lottery to come to America,” said one plaintiff in the lawsuit remaining anonymous for security reasons. “Now my family and I may have to abandon our American dreams if the State Department doesn’t issue our visas in time.”

The ban currently blocks nationals from six countries including Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia from entering the US until September 24.

The program requires consulates to issue visas to lottery winners no later than September 30 or they will lose their chance to immigrate to the US. The lawsuit filed against the State Department requested the US government to process lottery winners’ visas by that date as required by federal law.

“The diversity visa program awards immigrant visas to nationals of countries that historically have sent low numbers of immigrants to the United States. That includes nations of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, among dozens of other countries,” reads the complaint filed against the State department. “Under the governing statutes and regulations, consular officials must issue those visas if the selected winners are statutorily eligible.”

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the National Immigration Law Center and the law firm of Jenner & Block.

In exchange for Iraq to be removed from US President Donald Trump’s initial travel ban via executive order, Iraq had agreed to accept any deportees from the US. The ACLU argues that if Iraqis were forced to return to Iraq, they could potentially face “persecution, torture, or death.”

The ACLU had previously filed a class action lawsuit on June 24 to protect over 1,400 Iraqi nationals from being immediately deported.

From the time the initial lawsuit was filed, two temporary stays were issued as well as an injunction on July 24 by US District Judge Mark Goldsmith of Detroit, Michigan, where a majority of Iraqi Chaldean Christians live.

Now that the injunction has been issued, each detainee will have a 90-day stay, beginning from the time the government provides immigration records needed to reopen each petitioner’s case, which could take five months or more to obtain.

Judge Goldsmith’s order will provide the additional time needed for detainees to secure lawyers, for lawyers to request the necessary documentation to protect their clients, and for each case to be heard before immigration judges and boards before they are possibly deported to dangerous situations.

Many Iraqis fear persecution or death if they return to Iraq after having lived on American soil for decades. Some of those facing deportation include Chaldeans, Kurds and Sunni Arabs — all minorities in Iraq.

“The US has a long history of protecting vulnerable populations seeking refuge in this country,” read a statement on ACLU’s website.
 
“We must live up to that tradition now."

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Lawsuit filed on behalf of Green Card winners affected by Trump's travel ban Lawsuit filed on behalf of Green Card winners affected by Trump's travel ban Reviewed by Defense Alert on 03:09:00 Rating: 5

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