WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government granted waivers to good 6 p.c of visa applicants self-discipline to its lumber ban on a handful of countries all the scheme in which through the first 11 months of the ban, new knowledge reviewed by Reuters presentations.
Trump administration officials possess pointed to the waiver process embedded within the lumber ban as proof it changed into once no longer motivated by animus toward Muslims, as critics possess charged, nonetheless barely serves to provide protection to the USA.
In June 2018, after simply challenges defeated earlier iterations of the ban, the Supreme Court docket upheld a revised model and wrote in its majority belief that the waiver program supported the government’s claims that the ban served “a sound national security interest.”
Nevertheless new knowledge presentations that simplest 6 p.c of alternative folks self-discipline to the lumber ban were within the raze granted waivers all the scheme in which through the first 11 months of the ban’s fat implementation.
Between Dec. 8, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2018, Command Department officers dominated on nearly 38,000 purposes for non-immigrant and immigrant visas filed by other folks self-discipline to the lumber ban who in any other case qualified for the visas and wanted waivers to receive them.
They certain that good 6 p.c – or 2,216 applicants – met the components for a waiver. Of these, 670 had no longer but acquired their visas nonetheless were anticipated to manufacture so.
The knowledge changed into once supplied in a Feb. 22 letter from Assistant Secretary of Command Mary Taylor to Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen. The letter changed into once acquired by Van Hollen’s keep of job on Wednesday, and his keep of job supplied it to Reuters.
“This knowledge paints a favorable – and deeply traumatic – image of the Trump lumber ban,” Van Hollen acknowledged in a enlighten to Reuters. “The administration many instances swore to the Supreme Court docket and the American other folks that this changed into once no longer a de-facto Muslim ban and that there changed into once a favorable waiver process to make certain that that fairness. That couldn’t be additional from actuality.”
The Command Department didn’t correct now reply to a keep a query to of for comment.
The lumber ban blocks voters of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, besides to some Venezuelan officials and their family, from acquiring a substantial fluctuate of U.S. immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Chad changed into once previously covered by the ban nonetheless changed into once removed in April 2018.
The most up-to-date knowledge dispute a minute prolong within the waiver issuance rate. Knowledge from December 2017 through April 2018 showed that waivers were issued in 2 p.c of visa purposes filed by other folks self-discipline to the lumber ban.
The ban’s restrictions fluctuate from country to country – Somalis, as an instance, can receive non permanent visas and Iranians are allowed to receive student visas, whereas North Koreans are blocked from all visas.
To boot to the practically 38,000 purposes conception to be for a lumber ban waiver, spherical 8,100 by other folks from countries self-discipline to the lumber ban were refused within the 11-month duration for causes unrelated to the ban, and nearly 2,600 applicants were came upon eligible for visas in accordance to exceptions to the ban and thus didn’t need a waiver.
Critics utter the waiver process is shrouded in secrecy, with obscure standards and runt knowledge given to applicants about how they can qualify or put collectively for one. Two federal complaints are contesting the fairness of the process.
The respectable criteria for a waiver is a three-portion test assessing whether or no longer denying entry to an applicant would trigger “undue hardship,” if entry of the person would no longer pose a threat to the USA, and if entry would possibly well possibly per chance be within the national interest.
There would possibly well be not this kind of thing as a software for a waiver – the Command Department says it “mechanically” considers applicants for them.
“They (the Command Department) are in actuality actively telling applicants, ‘We don’t desire your materials in give a clutch to of a waiver,’” acknowledged Mahsa Khanbabai, an immigration attorney in Massachusetts who has potentialities self-discipline to the ban. “Even within the instances where they manufacture have interaction them, the out of the ordinary quantity of time that it takes to receive a decision causes hasty-witted hardships for of us.”
Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Kieran Murray and Daniel Wallis