(KRON) — Although now invalid, the Trump-era travel ban is still affecting tens of thousands of immigrants around the world who have been left behind. This month, a federal court in San Francisco ruled in their favor to force the US government to do more to help.
They call it a clear win. But the concern now is: How quickly can immigration applicants process their visas without additional costs?
In 2017, then-President Trump enacted a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. Immigration lawyers gathered at airports and then fought him in court.
When President Biden took office, he reversed the ban, as promised. The problem is that, according to the Bay Area-based Pars Equality Center, there was no clear answer for the nearly 40,000 applicants worldwide who have been left in an administrative limbo.
“They are still waiting for their visa. They are still awaiting review. So the travel ban has been lifted, but the damage continues,” said Paris Etemadi Scott with the Pars Equality Center.
Applicants are either still waiting for an interview or have been denied visas during the detention, despite paying up to thousands of dollars in fees for their shot at the American dream. Applicants from countries without a US embassy must pay for flights and hotels to a third country where they can apply and complete a health exam.
Pars Equality Center reports that an Iranian family lost their father to COVID-19 in Armenia in 2020 during the legal process. They are now heartbroken and stuck with a medical bill.
Apart from the grief and the long time spent, applicants like these are left wondering if the money invested went down the drain.
The judge’s ruling ordered the US government to undo the damages from the travel ban, reconsider the denied visas and waive any fees related to their second-time visa applications.
KRON ON is broadcasting live news now
“This is far from the end of the road, isn’t it? It’s a victory, and it’s an important victory, but it’s really just a step. It’s effectively an order that forces the government to come to the table and talk about a solution and figure out how to find a way forward,” said Babak Yousefzadeh of the Iranian-American Bar Association.
People who have been waiting for a visa are excited but cautious, as the wheels of government often turn slowly. In addition to waiving any fees for visa applicants from countries previously in the travel ban, they hope this decision will speed up the review.