Dingell, Torres Urge DHS, State to Support Immigrants Impacted by Muslim Ban and Pandemic Closures
20,900+ green card winners still have not been able to receive visas
Washington, September 8, 2022
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) today led 17 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas and State Department Secretary Blinken urging the administration to take direct action to provide relief to Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) winners who were blocked from receiving their green cards as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the previous administration’s discriminatory Muslim Ban. Recipients must proceed with their application before the end of the fiscal year they are awarded but many of these lottery winners were unable to continue with their application due to temporary, and often discriminatory, restrictions on immigration – barring them from the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive a visa. As a result, more than 20,900 green card lottery winners have been denied visas they are otherwise eligible for and have been unable to reapply.
“During the previous administration, Presidential Proclamations 10014, 9983, and 9645 prevented numerous DV recipients from proceeding with their application and secure green cards during the fiscal year they were awarded,” the lawmakers write. “Despite meeting all other statutory requirements, many of these individuals have been unable to receive visas they are otherwise eligible for and have not been able to reapply after the Biden administration rescinded the Proclamations.”
“These individuals and their families are still facing the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic closures and the discriminatory Muslim Ban. State Department data shows that 20,900 green card lottery winners still have yet to receive relief,” the lawmakers continue. “The barriers they continue to face undermine the legitimacy and purpose of the DV program. It is critical that the administration remedies this issue. The Priority 2 (P-2) program is a refugee resettlement program under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) offering qualifying individuals or groups of concern access to immigration services under exigent need or circumstance. We believe the unique conditions of those denied a diversity visa due to these bans merit P-2 eligibility.”
“As a result, we request the administration grant P-2 designation to those impacted by these Presidential Proclamations and increase refugee processing to alleviate the enduring barriers for these individuals and their families,” the lawmakers conclude. “A P-2 program would provide those denied a green card due to COVID-19 closures or the discriminatory impacts of the Muslim Ban an opportunity to permanently resettle in the United States. There is precedent in establishing this designation for Afghan nationals and their eligible family members who worked with the United States but were ineligible for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) status. Offering a P-2 program would provide these individuals lasting protections and fulfill the United States’ commitment to these diversity visa recipients.”
This effort is supported by FWD.us and African Communities Together.
“This is both a deeply needed and common-sense way to redress some of the harm done to thousands of people by the discriminatory and cruel efforts to ban immigrants from Muslim-majority countries,” said Todd Schulte, President of FWD.us. “The P-2 refugee program exists to be used in these urgent and specific cases. We want to thank Representatives Dingell and Torres for their leadership and the other members for supporting this effort.”
"Although we were pleased to see President Biden rescind the Muslim & Africa bans when he took office, the rescission alone was not sufficient to correct the harms caused to Diversity Visa recipients,” said Diana Konaté, Policy Director of African Communities Together. “Granting P-2 designation to these impacted individuals is a way to address the life-altering consequences the bans have had on their lives. The administration can and must act now."
The letter is also signed by Representatives Yvette Clarke, Juan Vargas, Grace Meng, Rashida Tlaib, André Carson, Adriano Espaillat, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Gwen Moore, Barbara Lee, Linda Sánchez, Suzanne Bonamici, Jan Schakowsky, Marie Newman, Anthony Brown, Marc Veasey, Judy Chu, and Dwight Evans.
View the full text of the letter here.