WASHINGTON, DC – Ahead of the 6th anniversary of the Muslim & African Bans that sparked worldwide condemnation, a broad coalition of civil and human rights groups, immigrant justice organizations, Reps. Judy Chu, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Andre Carson marked the unconscionable and lasting harms of the Bans as a result of the Biden administration’s inaction. Live stream available here.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump enacted the first Muslim Ban, banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. Six years later, even after President Biden rescinded the Muslim & African Bans on his first day in office, thousands are still separated from their families and caught in a black hole of administration delays, with little information and no recourse to repair the damage. Many denied entry by the Bans spent all of their savings and sold family heirlooms to afford visa applications and related travel costs.
“The Trump Muslim Ban was plainly rooted in prejudice. And it caused a great deal of pain to families who had worked for years to go through the legal vetting process to earn a chance at a better future here in the United States, only to have the opportunity to immigrate ripped away from them – sometimes at the very last minute. While I thank President Biden for rescinding the discriminatory Ban on Day 1 of his administration, we need Congress to pass the NO BAN Act to ensure no future President can ban people from coming to the United States simply because of their religious beliefs,” said Representative Judy Chu.
Bearing posters with the photos and stories of just some of the countless children, siblings, and parents who are still separated from their loved ones, the group rallied at the House Triangle today and delivered a petition with more than 33,000 signatures and a letter to President Biden urging him to fulfill his promise to fully dismantle the racist and Islamophobic Bans and allow all individuals who were denied their fair shot at immigrating to the U.S.
The letter signed by sixty seven organizations said:
While we cannot quantify the harm to the countless number of people who were deterred from ever applying for visas while the bans were in place, it is crucial that this administration fulfill its promise to right the wrongs of the Trump administration by providing relief to those who applied for but either never received or were denied visas that they otherwise would have qualified for had the unjust bans never been imposed. We urge you to take immediate steps to provide meaningful relief to those harmed by the bans.
Omer Abdalla Hassan Mohamed, who currently lives in Sudan and is one of countless people caught in this horrific maze, explains: “The consular officer didn’t ask me many questions but just coldly told me that my application for a diversity visa was being rejected due to the Muslim Ban. I felt weak at my knees and the images of my mother, my family flashed in front of me. My mother tried her best to comfort me though I was inconsolable knowing that her last remaining jewelry was now gone forever. The hallowed American Dream. Instead, I remain a broken man.” See more stories from community members at @NoMuslimBanEver.
“Ending the Muslim ban does not simply happen with a repeal–it ends when the harm done to impacted communities are redressed. The legacy of Trump’s Muslim ban persists to this day, as visa processing has been decimated for Iranians. At a time when the U.S. should be expediting visas and refugee status for Iranians who are at risk for protesting their government, the last thing our community should be experiencing are long wait times laced with uncertainty and barriers to obtaining a visa,” said Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council.
“We need President Biden to take action now to reunite the tens of thousands of families still torn apart by Trump’s unconscionable Muslim and African Bans,” said Yasmine Taeb, Legislative and Political Director at MPower Change Action Fund. “Our families have waited more than two years for the Biden administration to take the appropriate steps to provide relief and redress the harms caused by Trump’s racist immigration policies. We will continue to fight every single day until those impacted by the bans are reunited with their families.”
“Two years ago, CAIR welcomed President Biden’s termination – on his first day in office – of the previous administration’s discriminatory Muslim and African Bans,” said Robert S. McCaw, Council on American-Islamic Relations Director of Government Affairs. “However, we believe that the Biden administration has neglected its responsibility to holistically address and fix the damages done by the Muslim and African bans. That includes providing another opportunity to Diversity Visa winners who were denied their chance to apply to immigrate to the United States.”
“The basic tenets of our democracy were lost through the creation of these Bans,“ said Iman Awad, Emgage Action Deputy Director. “Our work is far from over, and we will never stop fighting until our country is a beacon of safety and freedom for the world.”
“Many of us rushed to airports six years ago to express our displeasure with the xenophobic motivations behind President Trump’s Muslim ban, and two years ago, we celebrated its repeal. However, the ban continues to harm Arab, African and Muslim migrants because it has permeated every aspect of the processing of refugees and immigrants. We must not and cannot remain complacent until the ban in its entirety is lifted.”
“President Biden sets the example for this duty. He took a significant step in February 2020 when he called for a review of all actions taken as a result of the bans, including changes to security vetting procedures. We appeal to the Biden Administration to carry out its commitment and end the Muslim bans’ long-lasting impact two years later, in solidarity with those who were affected,” said Abed Ayoub, Executive Director of the ADC.
“The Biden administration must swiftly establish a reconsideration process for all those wrongfully banned from entering the U.S. under the Muslim and African bans, and that process should not further burden applicants,” said Raha Wala, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center. “They should do it not just because a court ordered them to, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
“President Biden’s decision to rescind the Muslim Ban in 2021 was a much needed first step to reverse many of the policies that fanned flames of xenophobia and Islamophobia,” said Salam Al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “To this day, an untold number of people are still reeling from the impact of those policies, particularly Arab, African, and Muslim immigrants. We urge the Biden administration to stand by its promise and take action to provide relief to those negatively affected by the ban; and we call on Congress to reintroduce and pass the NO BAN Act to ensure no community ever experiences what we went through ever again.”
“The impact of the bans has been ongoing and life-alternating for thousands of families,” said Diana Konaté, Policy Director of African Communities Together. “The administration can and must act now to provide relief and uphold the values they promised upon taking office. It’s time for the Biden administration to correct the harms caused by Trump’s racist and islamophobic Muslim and African Bans.”
“Since the Biden administration rescinded the Muslim & African Bans, parents, siblings, children, students, and countless community members have been living in an indefinite state of limbo, denied their fair shot at immigration and blocked from pursuing the life they want because of where they were born and who they are,” said Hammad Alam, National Security & Civil Rights Program Manager and Staff Attorney, Asian Law Caucus. “Worldwide protests, years of community organizing, and now a federal court decision have made it unequivocally clear what President Biden must do: end the harms and reunite families.”
“The thousands of diversity lottery winners whose plans for a new life were snatched away from them because of Trump’s bigotry and hate, deserve justice,” said Isra Chaker, campaign strategist with the ACLU’s National Political Advocacy Department. “President Biden must allow them to finally come to the US, as they were promised, and right the wrongs that were done to them.”In August 2022, a federal court ruled that the Biden administration must establish a fair and effective process to reopen and reconsider applications from people who were denied an opportunity to reunite with their families, begin careers or take up study, or seek medical treatment because of the Bans. The Biden administration’s protracted and unconscionable refusal to redress these lasting harms have only served to uphold the Trump administration’s original racist and Islamophobic Bans, which President Biden once called a “stain on our national conscience.”