People blocked from entering the United States under President Donald Trump’s first travel ban can now reapply for visas to enter the US, according to a settlement reached in the case that temporarily blocked the travel ban back in January.
In the brief period after the first travel ban went into effect on January 27, a number of people with valid visas were denied entry into the US and put on planes back to where they came from. Two of those people, Iraqi nationals Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, filed suit after being detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Less than 24 hours after Trump signed the executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” a federal judge ruled in the their case, Darweesh et al. vs Trump, that the travel ban was unconstitutional. Because the case was filed as a class action lawsuit, the ruling temporarily blocked the travel ban from being implemented nationwide.
The Supreme Court in June allowed parts of Trump’s second travel ban executive order to go into effect and will hear oral arguments on the case in October.
According to the settlement in the first travel ban case, all of those people who were denied entry but had proper documentation can now reapply for visas to enter the US.
“Although the government dragged its feet for far too long, it has finally agreed to do the right thing and provide those excluded under the first Muslim ban with proper notice of their right to come to the United States,” Lee Gelernt, ACLU’s deputy director for the Immigration Rights Project, said in a press release.
The government plans to send letters to notify those who were denied entry under the first travel ban that they are now eligible to reapply for a visa — using the most current information from their visa applications. The letters will include a list of free legal service providers who can help the applicants reapply, and they will be written in English, Farsi and Arabic, according to the settlement.
While the government has not provided a list of the people who will receive the letter, the settlement states that those who “provided contact information in visa applications” and “applied for admission at a port of entry in the United States, were found inadmissible solely as a result of the Executive Order, withdrew their applications for admission, and since their withdrawal have neither entered the US nor sought a visa for future travel to the US” will receive letters.
About 2,000 people were detained during the almost 24-hour time period from when the first travel ban went into effect to when the temporary stay blocked the travel ban from being implemented. Roughly 140 people were denied entry and sent back to their country of origin in that time period, according to Gelernt, based on documents the ACLU obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Department of Justice will designate a liaison to review these applications for three months after the letters have been sent out, according to the settlement.
There is no guarantee that individuals who reapply will be given visas if they are found ineligible through the normal visa process, according to the settlement. The plaintiffs, Darweesh and Alshawi, agreed to drop any claims they had against the government in the settlement.
No monetary compensation was awarded to either plaintiff.
“It means a lot to me to be in America,” Darweesh said in a press release. “The United States is a great country because of its people. I’m glad that the lawsuit is over. Me and my family are safe. My kids go to school. We can now live a normal life. I suffered back home, but I have my rights now. I’m a human.”