US Supreme Court divided over right to appeal visa denial

HammerOfJusticeAWashington, United States (AFP) — The US Supreme Court appeared divided Monday over whether American citizens can appeal the Government’s decision to deny their spouse a visa, after a California woman’s Afghan husband was barred from entering the country.

Fauzia Din, a naturalised US citizen from Afghanistan, sued the Government after it denied a visa to her husband, Kanishka Berashk of Afghanistan.

The Government had cited a law referring to “terrorist activities”, declining to provide any further information about why he was turned down.

During an hour of oral arguments in the case, some of the nine justices seemed favourable to Din, but the high court is likely to side with President Barack Obama’s administration, which says a visa denial cannot be repealed.

Berashk, who had worked for the Kabul Government while it was still in Taliban hands ahead of the US-led invasion of 2001, was denied a visa in 2009.

Din had stressed that she herself had fled the Taliban, who took power in 1996, and yet obtained political asylum and citizenship from the United States.

“There’s a liberty of not being arbitrarily denied the right to live with your spouse,” said her lawyer, Mark Haddad.

But Berashk “was denied entry for security reasons. Neither he nor his wife is entitled to a greater explanation”, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said in presenting the government’s arguments.

“It is excessively rare that the Government has to submit classified information.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who appeared sympathetic to Din’s case, spoke of the woman’s “administrative nightmare”.

“The result is that an American citizen has to live separately for her spouse forever,” agreed Justice Stephen Breyer.

A ruling on the case is expected in June.

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