Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tariq Ramadan: A Professor's Immigration Dilemma

We talked about this in my WCL 2351 class this past semester. Professor Ramadan is from Europe and has a family with small children. Notre Dame University offered him a position and the Ramadans were packed and ready to come to the U.S., but they were not allowed in the country...

Click here for a previous dreamacttexas post on Tariq Ramadan (it includes a video interview of him)
July 17, 2009
Chronicle of Higher Education

A federal appeals court ruled today that the U.S. government might have acted improperly in denying a visa to the the prominent European Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan.

But while the ruling raised hopes that Mr. Ramadan will eventually be allowed into the United States to teach or attend academic conferences, it was hardly a major blow to the federal policy of “ideological exclusion,” the denial of visas to some applicants based on their views or associations.

The decision, rendered today by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, was narrowly focused, concentrating on the question of whether a U.S. consulate had given Mr. Ramadan sufficient opportunity to prove he did not know — and could not reasonably have known — that he had donated money to a Swiss-based charity that was a terrorist organization.

Overturning a U.S. District Court ruling that had upheld the government’s handling of Mr. Ramadan’s case, the appeals-court panel said the government had not established that the consular officers handling Mr. Ramadan’s visa application had given him sufficient opportunity to demonstrate his innocence. The appellate judges ordered the lower court to hold additional proceedings to ascertain whether the consulate had given him due process.

Mr. Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, was applying for a U.S. visa in 2005 when he acknowledged having given about $1,300 to the Association de Secours Palestinian from 1998 to 2002. The State Department had designated the association as a terrorist group in 2003 because of its financial support of Hamas, but Mr. Ramadan said he had no knowledge of the group’s terrorist ties when he donated money to it.

The American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors, and the Pen American Center joined Mr. Ramadan in filing the lawsuit challenging his visa denial. Melissa A. Goodman, a staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, which has helped represent Mr. Ramadan, said she was cheered by language in today’s decision holding that Mr. Ramadan’s case involved First Amendment issues and that scholars such as Mr. Ramadan have a right to contest visa denials.

She said she was hopeful today’s ruling might encourage President Obama’s administration to reconsider the visa policy put in place under President George W. Bush. So far, the Obama administration has not indicated a willingness to do so. —Peter Schmidt link to article

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