CAIR-Columbus today announced the successful resolution of two lawsuits against U.S. consulates abroad for unreasonably delaying immigrant visas.
The first lawsuit, filed last January in the Northern District of Ohio, was against the consulate in Jerusalem and challenged a nearly nine-year delay of an immigrant visa for a Palestinian man married to a United States citizen.
During the pendency of the application, the couple had four children together and the Palestinian applicant missed an opportunity to accept a full scholarship to earn his doctorate degree in Psychology at an American university.
The Consulate refused to provide the couple with any reason for why the visa was being delayed, other than to say it was in “administrative processing.”
The second lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Ohio against the consulate in Ankara for a nearly two-year delay in adjudicating a visa for a young Syrian man who was waiting to join the rest of his family.
He was interviewed by the consulate in January of 2014, along with his mother and younger siblings, but was the only one put in administrative processing indefinitely while the rest of his family was approved and left to join his father in the United States, thinking that the administrative process would only take a few months. No one in the family expected the administrative processing to last nearly two years.
CAIR-Columbus was able to obtain successful adjudication in both cases. The Syrian man arrived in Columbus two weeks ago to be reunited with his family, and the Palestinian man is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland next week.
Attorneys for CAIR-Columbus say that once cases are put in administrative processing, it is often an “indefinite black hole.” Consular officers are not required to tell applicants why they were put in administrative processing, nor is there any specific deadline for consular posts to complete the additional screening required by administrative processing.
“These cases illustrate the problem with the extreme amount of discretion given to consular officers. Families are sometimes separated for years at a time, for no apparent reason, and no matter how the case is eventually resolved, there is no way to get back that lost time with a child,” said Jennifer Nimer, CAIR-Columbus executive director and attorney for both cases. “The Trump administration’s new ‘extreme vetting’ policies will only make this problem infinitely worse.”
CAIR-Columbus has seen an increase in immigration delays of all types, and has filed immigration-related lawsuits for 19 plaintiffs this year alone. The civil rights organization has successfully obtained the requested immigration benefit for 14 of those plaintiffs already, and lawsuits for the other five are still pending.
Ohio Muslims who are facing similar delays are being urged to contact CAIR-Columbus for assistance by filing an incident report online at www.cair-columbus.com.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. CAIR-Ohio has three chapters in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati.