Justice Department settles lawsuit over travel ban, those affected can reapply

By Eric DuVall  |  Updated Sept. 1, 2017 at 11:07 AM
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Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The Justice Department settled a lawsuit brought by individuals who were blocked from entering the country after President Donald Trump's first travel ban, allowing those whose visas were denied the right to reapply.

The case was brought as a class-action suit on Jan. 28, one day after Trump's first executive order on immigration halted travel from several Muslim-majority nations. The suit named two Iraqi nationals seeking entry, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, as plaintiffs. A judge's initial ruling sided with Darweesh and Alshawi, effectively halting implementation of the executive order.

In a statement, the Justice Department said the settlement, filed Thursday in federal district court in Brooklyn, N.Y., was largely moot because the two plaintiffs had already been allowed to enter the country after Trump rescinded the order and filed a second one, which did not include Iraq on the list of nations from which travel is banned.

Darweesh, who worked as an interpreter on behalf of the United States in Iraq, already had family who had been admitted to the country prior to his visa denial.

Neither side said how many individuals the settlement covered. The federal government did not admit wrongdoing or pay the plaintiffs' legal fees. As part of the settlement, the American Civil Liberties Union said the U.S. government would need to contact all individuals who were denied entry under the initial travel ban who have not been granted the right to enter the country and inform them of their right to reapply.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on separate lawsuits brought after Trump signed the second immigration order in October. Implementation of that order has also been blocked by federal courts on the grounds it unfairly discriminates against Muslims. Trump has argued travelers from the affected nations should bear stricter scrutiny or "extreme vetting," due to the chance of terrorism.

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