ADC Files Lawsuit Against State Department over Diversity Visa Winner Denials and Delays
WASHINGTON — Today, ADC and other civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the State Department’s refusal to process visa applications for winners of the U.S. Diversity Visa Program lottery who hail from the six countries covered by President Trump’s Muslim ban. P.K. v. Tillerson, was filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The lawsuit was brought by Jenner & Block LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the District of Columbia, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the National Immigration Law Center. It was filed on behalf of lottery winners from Iran and Yemen, and charges the federal government with running afoul of federal law and regulations by refusing to issue visas to eligible winners.
The lottery program provides an opportunity to a limited number of immigrants from countries with historically low immigration rates to come to the United States. The randomly selected winners receive a visa, provided that they satisfy the eligibility requirements and qualify under the government’s general rules for visas. Only 50,000 diversity visas are awarded every year. Over the last 10 years, 16 million people on average have applied each year for the annual lottery.
The program requires consulates to issue visas to lottery winners no later than September 30, or the winners lose their chance to immigrate to the United States. The case filed today asks that the government process lottery winners’ visa applications by that date, as required by federal law and regulations.
Trump’s Muslim ban currently prohibits the entry of individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who do not have bona fide connections to the United States (or who fall within another exception). The Supreme Court is poised to consider the ban’s constitutionality later in the fall in separate litigation.
Plaintiff Radad Furooz: ” I sold everything I had to get the chance to travel to the USA. I have nothing and no where to go now. The Executive Order travel ban has destroyed my dreams.”
Plaintiff Hamed Almaqrami: “I have never read nor heard that a country or a nation in the world – whether western or eastern – invited you to their home and you, appreciating their generosity and hospitality,eagerly pack your bags and at the time that you are at their door they ask for the impossible or send you back. This is exactly what Is happening to me.”
MEDIA COVERAGE ON THE PLIGHT OF YEMENI DIVERSITY VISA WINNERS:
“ADC’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State seeks to prohibit the discriminatory delay of diversity visa issuance to Yemeni nationals. The denial of diversity visas and lengthy processing is targeting Yemenis based on their national origin and religion. Administrative processing should not be used to wait people out and keep them from an opportunity for a visa they qualify for. This vile attempt by the Trump administration to refuse admission to those who have sacrificed everything for a better opportunity is uncalled for, and unacceptable. ADC stands with the Yemenis and all those who are affected. We will do everything in our power to see that justice is served.” Samer Khalaf, ADC National President.
“After connecting with many of the diversity visa lottery winners in the last couple of weeks, their voices and stories remain etched in our minds. We are grateful that today the world will learn of their broken promise to the American dream. We will tirelessly stand with them until they get the judicial relief they deserve.” Dr. Debbie Almontaser, Yemeni American Merchant Association of New York.