Advocates and progressive lawmakers slammed the Biden administration for denying visas to thousands of diversity visa recipients who were denied entry to the United States under former President Donald Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban,” NPR reports.
Biden repealed Trump’s ban as one of his first actions in office. The State Department completed its 45-day review of the directives and said Monday that applicants denied during the Trump years will be able to reapply if they pay a new fee.
“Those whose immigrant visa applications received a final refusal on or after January 20, 2020 due to the Proclamations may seek re-adjudication without resubmitting their application forms or paying any additional fees, provided the underlying visa petitions remain valid,” the state department said. “Under current regulations, those whose immigrant visa applications were denied prior to January 20, 2020 may also be reconsidered, but these individuals must submit new applications and pay a new application fee.”
But diversity visa applicants “who were not issued visas are statutorily barred from being issued visas based on their selection as Diversity Visa applicants in those fiscal years, as the deadlines for visa issuance in those fiscal years have expired.”
ACLU slams decision:
The American Civil Liberties Union said that the move will impact a large number of African visa applicants.
“While President Biden is right to call the Muslim ban ‘a stain on our national conscience,’ he has failed to help so many of those harmed by it,” Manar Waheed, the ACLU’s senior legislative and advocacy counsel, said in a statement. “The opportunity to ‘win’ a diversity visa is a rare and life-changing opportunity that was snatched away from thousands of people because of President Trump’s hatred and discrimination.”
“Instead of restoring this opportunity, President Biden just dusted off Trump’s ‘CLOSED’ sign and locked the door behind him,” he added. “This decision threatens to forever prevent thousands of Black and Brown immigrants who meet all of the legal requirements to immigrate to the United States from doing so, perpetuating the effects of the discriminatory ban. Although Biden made the Muslim ban recession a day one priority, that alone is not enough. Today, he cemented Trump’s legacy of harm.”
"This is infuriating," Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib wrote on Twitter.
Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley cited the State Department’s statement calling the Muslim ban “a stain on our national conscience.”
"So the cycle of harm must be broken,” she wrote. “This is unacceptable."