Advancement Project Files FOIA Lawsuit on Behalf of UndocuBlack Network Seeking Transparency on Visa Sanctions
WASHINGTON – Advancement Project’s national office, today, filed suit in federal court in the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to ensure transparency and gather information surrounding the 2017 Visa Sanctions against Cambodia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The lawsuit seeks to hold the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of State (the State Department), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accountable to releasing the information, initially requested over a year ago, regarding those affected by the sanctions, why these specific countries were targeted, as well as the nature of guidance and implementation from the agencies involved. The FOIA request was filed on behalf of the UndocuBlack Network, a multigenerational network that advocates on issues affecting the Black immigrant diaspora.
“The public has a right to know about these policies that are very dangerous and harmful to members of these communities,” said Losmin Jimenez, Senior Attorney and Immigrant Justice Project Director for Advancement Project’s national office. “This administration has made it known what it thinks about African countries and has systematically attacked immigrants of color in this country. People also have the right to know why these sanctions are occurring, especially considering the high likelihood of those affected facing torture and returning to a country they don’t know while destroying family ties.”
The Visa Sanctions were introduced on September 13, 2017, as a form of retaliation by the Trump Administration to compel countries to process deportations from the U.S. This is one of the many weapons being used against immigrant communities by this administration. As social justice organizations committed to advocating alongside undocumented immigrant communities, we see this case as necessary action towards holding the federal government accountable to transparency under FOIA.
“The decision to issue visa sanctions against all four African and Asian countries at once was unprecedented. We see a link between these measures and the subsequent Muslim Ban. We did not and cannot accept this as the norm. The process of obtaining answers and accountability from this administration continue to demonstrate their misguided values and lack of transparency. However, we remain diligent and committed to the people impacted by these decisions by ensuring that their lives, stories and issues are not forgotten and neglected,” said Jonathan Jayes-Green, Co-founder and Director of the UndocuBlack Network.
Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.
The UndocuBlack Network (UBN) is a multigenerational network of formerly and currently undocumented Black people that fosters kinships, facilitates access to resources and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives.