Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed

A federal judge said Thursday that a lawsuit accusing the Trump administration of denying almost all visa applicants from countries under President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE's travel ban will proceed.

The case is "not going away at this stage,” U.S. District Judge James Donato said, according to the Associated Press

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Plaintiffs claim the administration is not honoring a waiver provision in the Trump administration's ban on travelers from five Muslim-majority nations.

The ban, issued by a proclamation in September 2017, restricts entry into the U.S. for most travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban in a 5-4 vote in June.

 

Under the waiver provision, people who can prove entry into the U.S. is in the country's interest, is necessary to avoid undue hardship and would not pose a security threat are granted a case-by-case exemption. 

The 36 plaintiffs in the case allege that their waiver applications were denied or delayed, despite chronic medical conditions or prolonged family separations, their lawyers said, according to the AP.

Donato, who was appointed by former President Obama to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said he was considering whether officials were making decisions on applications in "good faith" and not stonewalling, the AP reported.

An attorney for the plaintiffs claimed at Thursday's hearing that officials considering the the waiver requests were eschewing guidelines and accused them of repeatedly denying people the ability to demonstrate their qualifications for a visa. The plaintiffs estimate that tens of thousands of people have been affected by the denials of visa applications, the outlet reported.

A Justice Department attorney said officials are working “tirelessly” on visa applications under guidance issued by the State Department.

— Updated 10:45 p.m.