Immigrant groups sue Trump administration over travel ban


The Trump administration is facing the first legal challenge to its travel ban on nationals from five Muslim-majority countries following the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld the ban.

Muslim Advocates, Lotfi Legal LLC, the Immigrant Advocacy & Litigation Center PLLC and Public Counsel have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 36 people whose visa applications they say were wrongfully denied or stalled by the administration.


The immigrant groups note that President Trump’s proclamation, which was upheld by the high court in June, provides for case-by-case waivers from the ban for people who can demonstrate certain criteria: that a denial would cause undue hardship, that they are not a threat to national security and that it would be in the nation’s interest to let them enter.

The proclamation also requires the secretary of State and the secretary of Homeland Security to adopt guidance establishing when waivers may be appropriate for foreign nationals who would otherwise be banned, according to the court filing.

But the groups say no such guidance has been issued and the administration has adopted a policy of denying or stalling virtually all visa issuance and waiver grants.

The plaintiffs in the case are asking the court to order the administration to cease its unlawful practice, retract its previous visa denials, provide clear guidance on who’s eligible for a waiver and review each application on a case-by-case basis.

“The waiver process is the only hope for thousands of families seeking to be reunited,” said Sirine Shebaya, senior staff attorney for Muslim Advocates.

“But as Justice [Stephen] Breyer noted in his dissent in Trump v. Hawaii, by all indications, the process has been ‘a sham.’ The government should follow its own laws and put in place an orderly application process for full and fair adjudication of individual applications.”

The lawsuit is a narrower version of a complaint Lofit Legal, Public Counsel and the Immigrant Advocacy & Immigration Center first filed in March on behalf of Iranians who had been denied visas.

The lawsuit was filed before the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the travel ban case.

Additional immigrant groups had now signed on and added plaintiffs from each of the five majority-Muslim countries included in ban in this amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California San Francisco Division.

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