Today, the ACLU sent letters to the Departments of State and Homeland Security asking them to grant a visa to Kerim Yildiz, a British citizen living in London. Yildiz, the executive director of the U.K.-based Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP), has apparently been refused a visa to enter the U.S., and we worry that the delay — which has lasted nearly a year — relates to his human rights advocacy on behalf of Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and elsewhere.
We've previously noted the practice of ideological exclusion, in which foreign nationals are denied entry to the United States because our government does not agree with their political views.
The ACLU has opposed this policy for years: we've brought lawsuits on behalf of Professor Tariq Ramadan and Professor Adam Habib, and we've sent letters to the State Department expressing our concern over the apparently exclusion of women's rights activist Malalai Joya and journalist Hollman Morris. As we've noted in our lawsuits and letters, ideological exclusion infringes the First Amendment rights of Americans who would like to meet with these individuals, hear their views and engage them in debate. All four of these individuals have been allowed inside the U.S. since we first challenged their exclusions.
In Yildiz's case, he has been invited to the United States by, among others, the Open Society Foundations and the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, which recently gave Mr. Yildiz’s organization its prestigious Justice Award.
Learn more about ideological exclusion by checking out this timeline of others who have been excluded in the past.