President-elect Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
December 18, 2020
Dear President-elect Biden:
The No Muslim Ban Ever Campaign, the Value Our Families campaign and the undersigned national, state and local organizations, write to thank you for your commitment to rescind every iteration of the Muslim Ban, including the African Ban on day one of the Biden administration and to urge you to also expeditiously rescind related bans and Executive Orders that create additional barriers for people from the banned countries from being able to fully access visa and green cards. Specifically, this includes rescinding, the Asylum Ban, the Refugee Bans, the Health Care Proclamation, the Presidential Memorandum Enforcing Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens, and any expansion of the Immigration Ban and restart our immigration and refugee system by processing visas expeditiously and safely and increasing the refugee admissions goal. Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the nation, the Trump administration has issued numerous COVID-related bans using INA 212(f) authority yet again. It is critical that the Biden administration ensure that every use of this authority related to COVID-19 is firmly rooted in science and public health. While we recognize that it will take time to undo all of the Trump Administration’s racist and Islamophobic immigration policies, the Executive Orders, Presidential Proclamations and Memoranda may be undone expeditiously.
Since coming to power, this Trump administration has effectuated many parts of the white nationalist agenda, particularly in the area of immigration policy. The President’s first act in office was to implement his campaign promise of a Muslim Ban. On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued the first of several versions of a Muslim and refugee bans, which prevented people from Muslim-majority countries and all refugees —who, in years before the ban, increasingly were Muslim — from entering the United States. As federal courts blocked each version of the ban, the administration revised it several times in superficial attempts to conceal its anti-Muslim intent.
Despite numerous decisions from lower courts blocking the ban, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5- 4 ruling issued on June 26, 2018, ultimately allowed a version of the Muslim Ban — one that blocks most people from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen (as well as a smaller number from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela) from coming to the U.S. on immigrant or nonimmigrant visas — to remain in place indefinitely until Congress or another president repeals it. While the state and local resettlement veto executive order, which seeks to allow governors and localities to block resettlement in their states and communities, is currently blocked by a nationwide injunction, a ruling on its appeal is imminent.
Beyond the Muslim and refugee bans, the President set out to lower overall immigration levels and slash family-based immigration and the diversity visa program, particularly targeting Black immigrants, immigrants of color, and low-income immigrants. After Congress refused to slash these programs, the administration issued a series of policies that have chipped away at the number of green cards issued, particularly in the family-based, diversity, refugee, and asylum categories. President Trump also issued “the Presidential Proclamation on Addressing Mass Migration Through the Southern Border of the United States in November 2018”; “the Suspension of Entry to Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System” on October 4, 2019; and “the Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens” on May 23, 2019, aiming to scare immigrants from sponsoring their family members.
After winning at the Supreme Court, the President expanded the Muslim Ban (referred to as the African Ban) that bans either all green cards or diversity visas for people from Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar (Burma), and Kyrgyzstan, significantly reducing African immigration to the U.S,
The Trump Administration halted the issuance of most family-based immigrant visas and some employment-based visas for people outside the country on April 22, 2020, when President Trump signed Proclamation 10014 “Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak.” While that EO only applied to people applying for green cards outside the country, USCIS also slowed and temporarily paused adjustment applications. On June 22, the President extended and expanded “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak,” under the pretext of helping the economy to include even more visa categories. While this proclamation is set to expire on December 31st, President Trump will likely extend it before leaving office, and therefore, we ask that it be included in the day one executive order repealing these bans.
On October 1st, 2020, we lost approximately 100,000 family-based visas and around 42,000 diversity visas when the new fiscal year began. This loss has added to wait times and family separation. We must not lose more immigrant visas in FY 2021. America is strongest when we embrace diversity. America’s strength comes from our ability to knit together people from all backgrounds - races, ethnicities and faiths - into one nation. Our current family-based immigration system, humanitarian programs and diversity immigrant visa programs have successfully contributed to the rich, vibrant and multicultural U.S. communities that we see today. We respectfully urge you to restart immigration on day one by rescinding these executive orders and presidential proclamations, ordering agencies to resume visa processing, and immediately re-issuing the Presidential Determination for refugee admissions to 100,000 for the remainder of FY 2021. We look forward to working together to rebuild our immigration system.
For Full List of Signatories See Attached Letter