As’Salaamu Alaikum Community Members,
As we begin another year, CAIR-SFBA’s Legal Team prays you had a blessed start to the year. We would also like to thank all of you for continuing to entrust us with the work of defending civil rights.
Last month, in a welcome start to the new year, CAIR-SFBA applauded President Biden’s proclamation rescinding the Muslim Ban, which began wreaking havoc on the lives of American Muslims and their families in 2017 and went through several legal challenges and amendments to place discriminatory immigration restrictions on individuals from mainly Muslim majority countries. Despite CAIR-SFBA’s efforts, and those of countless other partners, the Ban prevented primarily Muslim and African citizens and government officials from Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen.
CAIR-SFBA led the challenge to the Muslim Ban particularly the U.S. Supreme Court’s carveouts of the Ban that allowed waiver process to permit certain citizens from the impacted nations that were deemed by consular officials to not threaten U.S. national security to come to the U.S. However, the purported waiver process lacked transparency and left many family members separated from each other. Thus, for thousands of individuals and families indefinitely separated by the Muslim Ban, the waiver provision has, as a practical matter, amounted to nothing more than an empty promise.
Effective beginning January 20, 2020, the recission of the Muslim Ban directs U.S. consulates and embassies to begin issuing visas for nationals of impacted countries, even as unreasonable delays in processing are likely to continue impacting Muslim applicants. The presidential proclamation also directed the State Department to submit a report regarding individuals whose applications are being considered for waivers under the previous Ban and to provide a plan for expediting the processing of denied applications. The proclamation directed State Department to ensure that there are no blanket denials of visas for individuals and families who are nationals of the above mentioned countries.
President Biden has also committed to a much-needed review of the effectiveness of the “extreme vetting” procedures put in place by the prior administration, which had the potential of negatively impacting nationals of countries targeted by the Muslim Ban. Under extreme vetting procedures, the U.S. government required all individuals applying for visas to submit information about their social media accounts, family history, employment, and travel history for the past 15 years. Considering the extreme vetting policies that are likely to remain in place, CAIR-SFBA will continue to advocate for just and humane immigration policies with the aim of ameliorating the impact of the anti-Muslim animus ingrained in the immigration system.
To ensure that his executive order and the policy rollbacks of Trump’s immigration fracas endure, President Biden should work closely with Congress to pass the National Origin-Based Anti-discrimination for Nonimmigrants (“No Ban Act”), supported by CAIR California, which would essentially limit the power of the present and succeeding executive branches in abusing Immigration and Nationality Act provisions to enact the Muslim Ban among other discriminatory policies. The bill’s anti-discrimination clause would ensure that there would be no loopholes that could be exploited and that any future restrictions on immigration are fully supported by evidence, properly tailored to serve legitimate government purposes, and subject to Congressional and judicial oversight. As of July 2020, the No Ban Act had serious political backing with it passing the House with a bipartisan majority.
If you or a family member find yourself in need of assistance regarding the impact of the Muslim Ban or have queries about naturalization application, adjustment of status petitions, asylum, and refugee petitions, please reach out to our Immigrants’ Rights Program through our immigration assistance form.
Thank you for your continued support and for enabling us to elevate the needed work to protect the American Muslim community and by extension, all Americans.
Ammad Rafiqi, Esq.
Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator