President Joe Biden has been accused of “locking the door” on thousands of visa applicants who were denied entry by Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Muslim’ ban, following partial rescinding the order in recent days.
It comes after visa applicants from more than dozen predominantly Muslim countries banned from applying for visas by the former president were invited to do so on Monday.
But in rescinding the ban, which the US president previously called “a stain on our national conscience”, thousands of applicants who were selected to receive “diversity visas” were excluded.
Civil liberties campaigners said the decision to block those who were due to receive US visas from underrepresented countries – as designated by the diversity visa allocation process – amounted to “locking the door” to them.
One of several groups to challenge the former ban, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), added that the Biden administration’s decision was a failure that furthered the former president’s discrimination.
“President Biden just dusted off Trump’s ‘CLOSED’ sign and locked the door behind him,” said ACLU attorney Manar Waheed in a statement.
“This decision threatens to forever prevent thousands of Black and Brown immigrants who meet all of the legal requirements to immigrate to the United States from doing so, perpetuating the effects of the discriminatory ban,” said Mr Waheed.
He added that “although Biden made the Muslim ban recession a day one priority, that alone is not enough. Today, he cemented Trump’s legacy of harm.”
The ACLU statement was then shared to Twitter by Ayanna Pressley, the progressive Democratic congresswoman, who wrote: “So the cycle of harm must be broken. This is unacceptable.”
A spokesperson for the State Department told ABC News that those who applied for diversity visas during 2017-2020 will be allowed to reapply, which requires another payment fee.
Diversity visas are capped at 55,000 per year, creating a problem for the State Department in regards to the former ban. Applicants are also supposed to show proof of their status from the same financial year in which they apply.
According to the State Department, as many as 41,000 people were denied entry into the United States due to the Trump-era ban. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has promised to show more compassion to migrants and refugees.
The State Department confirmed to The Independent that diversity visa applicants between 2017-2020 are “statutorily barred from being issued visas based on their selection as Diversity Visa applicants in those fiscal years, as the deadlines for visa issuance in those fiscal years have expired.”