Washington, DC – A coalition of Iranian American organizations, including the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), and the Pars Equality Center, released the following joint statement regarding the State Department’s clarification letter of the “waiver provisions” outlined in the Presidential Proclamation 9645 (the Proclamation) known as Travel Ban 3.0. The letter comes in response to the efforts of the coalition partners and their legal counsel working with the offices of Senators Chris Van Hollen and Jeff Flake in seeking an explanation on how the waivers are being processed.
“As Iranian American civil rights and advocacy organizations, we are extremely concerned with the State Department’s response to Senators Chris Van Hollen and Jeff Flake’s request that the administration provide information on the criteria, policies, and procedures for the waivers authorized under the Proclamation.
All but two visas out of 6,555 waiver applications have been denied between December 8th and February 15th as a result of the Proclamation. Reuters recently reported that some limited additional waivers have been approved since February 15th. Consular officers barely, if ever, accept visa applicants’ waiver packets and supporting documents, thereby leaving no reason to believe that waivers are being appropriately adjudicated pursuant to the Proclamation. The State Department appears to have failed to implement key provisions of the Proclamation that are intended to provide relief to individuals from affected countries.
The response letter also provides vague descriptions of the already ambiguous criteria set for assessment of waivers. In addition, the wholesale rejection of waiver requests compels the conclusion that there is a complete Travel Ban in effect by the administration. Over 8,406 people from the affected countries filed visa applications, traveled long distances at great expense to go through the charade of a visa interview. With what appears to be a 3 out of 10,000 chance of overcoming all the hurdles to get to a visa to travel, one can only ask why visa interviews are being scheduled at all.
We respectively request a meeting with appropriate representatives at the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security to discuss the implementation of the “waiver” program in fuller detail.”
PAAIA, IABA, and Pars Equality Center are committed to protecting the civil liberties of Iranian Americans and will continue to advocate against the discriminatory travel ban. The three organizations along with over 25 individual plaintiffs are also challenging President Trump’s latest iteration of the travel and refugee bans in Federal court.
The brief and declarations on the Iranian American organization federal lawsuit can be found at www.endthetravelban.com.
ABOUT PAAIA: The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization that represents the interests of the Iranian American community before U.S. policymakers, opinion makers, and the American public at large. We are committed to protecting the civil liberties of Iranian Americans.