Kerim Yildiz, a leading human rights advocate for the Kurdish people, was for two decades a frequent visitor to the United States. A British citizen living in London, he regularly lectured at American universities, caucused with other human rights advocates and briefed government officials in Washington.
But something changed. Where before he was admitted to the country without a problem, he has now waited nearly a year for the Obama administration to approve a visa. Officials have not explained the delay to him.
In letters we sent last month to the Departments of State and Homeland Security asking them to grant Yildiz a visa, we note the government practice known as ideological exclusion, in which foreign nationals are denied entry to the United States because our government does not agree with their political views. Ideological exclusion violates Americans' First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the U.S.