Acting quickly, as he promised, Judge Ahmit P. Mehta in Gomez v. Trump, recognized the particular urgency of the Diversity Visa plaintiffs’ situation and granted them injunctive relief. Judge Mehta ordered the Department of State (DOS) to make good faith efforts to “expeditiously process and adjudicate DV-2020 diversity visa and derivative beneficiary applications” and issue visas to those eligible by September 30, 2020 – the deadline for the Diversity Visa program.
Judge Mehta’s ruling was not based on the Presidential Proclamations per se. Instead, he opined that the Presidential Proclamations blocked entry of certain immigrants and non-immigrants but that did not justify the institution of a “no-visa” policy. DOS could not simply decide to suspend visa processing and in so doing, basically “extinguish” this year’s Diversity Visa program.
Although Judge Mehta did not find that the other immigrant and non-immigrant plaintiffs were entitled to injunctive relief, he did state they were likely to succeed in their case against DOS. He distinguished between the harm done to the Diversity Visa applicants who would lose their singular chance to obtain Green Cards if their visas were not adjudicated by September 30th and the situation of other applicants. Those people, although suffering harm, were not subject to a specific statutory deadline and would not gain anything if their visas were promptly adjudicated because they could not in any event enter the U.S. now due to the entry ban in the Presidential Proclamations.
Jackson Lewis will continue to follow this litigation and any DOS reaction as well as any changes or further guidance regarding the Presidential Proclamations and travel waivers.