P.K. v. Tillerson

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ) P.K., et al., ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) v. ) Civil Action No. 17-cv-1533 (TSC) ) ) REX W. TILLERSON, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ) MEMORANDUM OPINION This case involves the State Department’s application of President Trump’s Executive Order No. 13,780 (“Executive Order”) to individuals who have applied for diversity immigrant visas in the fiscal year 2017 (“FY 2017”). Plaintiffs—citizens of Yemen and Iran—allege that Rex W. Tillerson, in his official capacity as Secretary of State, and fifty State Department consular officials (collectively, “Defendants”), have unlawfully refused or failed to process Plaintiffs’ diversity immigrant visa applications based on their citizenship in one of the countries subject to the Executive Order’s entry ban. (See ECF No. 46 (“Am. Compl.”)).1 Before this court is Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Emergency Motion for Mandamus Relief. (ECF Nos. 2, 2-1 (“Mot.”)). The court heard oral argument on August 21, 2017, and at Plaintiffs’ request, held an emergency status conference on September 19, 2017. Upon 1 Plaintiffs’ original complaint was filed on August 3, 2017. (See ECF No. 1). On September 21, 2017, Plaintiffs requested leave to file their First Amended Petition for Mandamus and First Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief. (See ECF No. 44). The court granted Plaintiffs’ motion on September 22, 2017. (See Minute Order (9/22/2017)). The Amended Complaint includes additional plaintiffs and revised class allegations, but does not alter the nature of Plaintiffs’ claims. 1 consideration of the parties’ filings, the oral arguments of counsel, and for the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and emergency mandamus relief is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. I. BACKGROUND A. The Diversity Visa Program Congress created the diversity visa program under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) to allow for more immigration to the United States from countries with traditionally low rates of immigration. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1153(c)(1)(B)(ii), 1153(c)(1)(E)(ii). The program permits the State Department to issue up to 50,000 visas to individuals from specified countries.2 8 U.S.C. § 1151(e). Millions of people enter the lottery every year. Those selected for the program are not guaranteed to receive a visa—only the opportunity to apply for one. Those wishing to obtain a visa through the diversity visa program must enter the visa lottery by filing a petition. See 22 C.F.R. § 42.33(b)(3). The State Department randomly selects lottery applicants to become “selectees” of the program. Id. § 42.33(c). Selectees may then submit an application and complete an interview with State Department consular officers. Provided that an applicant is statutorily eligible, that there is a visa number available for the applicant, and that processing is complete by the end of the fiscal year, the statute directs the State Department to issue immigrant visas, allowing the applicant and their immediate family to live and work in the United States and become lawful permanent residents. See 8 U.S.C. § 1201(g); 22 C.F.R. §§ 40.6, 42.33(f). If an applicant ...

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