WASHINGTON D.C. February 27, 2021 – On Wednesday, February 24, President Biden revoked former President Trump’s immigrant visa ban. The Biden administration flatly rejected the previous administration’s proclamation that the entry of immigrants presents a risk to the U.S. economy during the pandemic. “To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” the Biden administration wrote. “It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world. And it harms individuals who were selected to receive the opportunity to apply for, and those who have likewise received, immigrant visas through the Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery.”
While President Biden has now revoked Proclamation 10014, which prevented the entry of immigrants, he has not taken action to revoke the entry ban on nonimmigrant temporary workers.
Former President Trump first signed his proclamation halting immigration on April 22, 2020. On June 22, he expanded it in scope and extended it through the end of 2020. On December 31, he extended it once again through March 31, 2021. The ban virtually halted all legal immigration — separating hundreds of thousands of families, throwing businesses into chaos, and disrupting the economic recovery. More than 120,000 family-based visas were lost in FY2020, as well as thousands of diversity visas.
Last July, our civil rights coalition of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Justice Action Center (JAC) and Innovation Law Lab, with pro bono support from Mayer Brown LLP, filed Gomez v. Trump, the first lawsuit challenging the entirety of the Trump administration’s immigration ban. Over the past several months, we have been fighting in the courts for all our plaintiffs, who originally included children at risk of “ageing out,” and now encompasses family-based visa applicants, diversity visa winners, and businesses who employ nonimmigrant temporary workers.
“I am really looking forward to spending time with my wife again. After so much waiting, we can finally start our American dream together,” says Nazif Alam, a Gomez v. Trump plaintiff who is a U.S. permanent resident and essential worker, and has been separated from his wife in Bangladesh for more than two years. “It is our diversity and our ability to bring great people from around the world together that makes this nation strong. It is great that the federal government is finally helping families reunite.”
“Finally! A new glimmer of hope is reborn. I am filled with extreme, indescribable joy! This is a huge relief, and the beginning of our dreams becoming real.” says Ijeoma Golden Kouadio, another Gomez v. Trump plaintiff, and a diversity visa winner from Ivory Coast who wrote about her situation in the Washington Post last week. “We hope to arrive in the U.S. as soon as we can, so our children will have better education and a brighter future. We say thank you to all the teams who participated in the fight. And above all, thank you, Mr. President, for making our American dream come true.”
We celebrate today’s victory for those who will now be able to enter the United States as Congress intended. However, Proclamation 10052, which also bans nonimmigrant visas — or those given temporary permission to travel to the United States for work in various categories — was not overturned. We will continue to fight for the rights of all our plaintiffs, including the nonimmigrant visa holders and employers excluded from today’s executive order.
“This ban was a preventable tragedy that has kept fathers and mothers from children, spouse from spouse, and exacerbated the stress and anxiety over the last year for many families. AILA welcomes the decision to lift the ban and allow long-suffering families to lawfully reunite. With nearly half a million people waiting in the backlogs, it will take an extraordinary feat of government coordination to process everyone in time and many are still at risk of losing their visas,” said Jesse Bless, AILA’s Director of Federal Litigation. “But the President’s job is only partway done: The other visa ban issued under Proclamation 10052 continues to block the entry of temporary foreign workers who advance important interests of the United States, and the health insurance proclamation is an unlawful hurdle to the entry of immigrants. America’s beacon of promise can only shine bright when the administration fully lifts all of former President Trump’s reprehensible bans.”
Esther Sung, Senior Counsel at Justice Action Center, said, “We are thrilled for our clients and for the thousands of families who will now be able to reunite in the United States because President Biden has rescinded the Proclamation. It was a hateful holdover from the prior administration and President Biden correctly recognized that it was harming United States families and businesses, as well as our nation’s values. As the Biden administration further recognized, U.S. industries ‘utilize talent from around the world’ – we now call on the president to rescind the ban that bars the entry of nonimmigrant temporary foreign workers who can help the U.S. economy.”
“Revoking the immigration ban was the right thing to do. These families and workers are an essential part of the American story. They are vital to the success and survival of our communities and will help speed our recovery. Thankfully, the parents, grandparents, children and siblings of citizens and permanent residents harmed by the previous administration’s ban can now focus on unifying and healing,” said Stephen Manning, Founder and Executive Director of Innovation Law Lab.
More information about the lawsuit, including case filings, can be found here.
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), founded in 1946, is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
Justice Action Center (JAC) is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting for greater justice for immigrant communities by combining litigation and storytelling. There is tremendous unmet need in the litigation landscape for immigrant communities. JAC is committed to bringing additional litigation resources to bear to address unmet needs in currently underserved areas. There is also untapped potential in how litigation can be combined with digital strategies to empower clients and change the corrosive narrative around immigrants.
Innovation Law Lab is a nonprofit organization that leverages advocacy, technology and law to fight for immigrant and refugee justice. By bringing technology to the fight for justice, Innovation Law Lab empowers advocates to scale their impact and provide effective representation to immigrants in detention and in hostile judicial jurisdictions across the country.