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Jun 21, 2024

NHCSL Condemns SCOTUS Opinion on Department of State v. Muñoz

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, in response to the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) opinion to reverse the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Department of State v. Sandra Muñoz, which required U.S. consular offices to explain the reasons for denying a visa application for the spouse of an American citizen, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) released the following statement:

“American citizens have both a fundamental right to marriage and a fundamental right to live in the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dept. of State v. Muñoz undermines these rights by denying admission to a citizen’s spouse without explanation and without due process, and by denying strict scrutiny to a right it admits is fundamental. It is an attack on marriage, and we strongly condemn it.

“We agreed with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) argument that not disclosing ‘secret evidence’ used to evaluate a noncitizen spouse’s applications violates applicants’ due process and prevents attorneys from offering advice to their clients and judicial relief.

“Withholding information from applicants, and even from the courts, using the excuse that an American’s husband or wife might engage in unspecified illegal activities is not a sufficient reason to separate families or functionally deny Americans the right to live in the United States, possibly permanently. Even with the best intentions, consular officers make mistakes. The Court’s decision makes it impossible to correct them.

“No American family should be subjected to a secret decision process reminiscent of China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran.

“Today’s opinion is also a reflection of how immigrants are subjected to an arbitrary system that prevents them taking good faith action to satisfy the notoriously ambiguous requirements for legal immigration.

“This new system of second-class marriages is a big step backwards, especially in light of President Biden’s recent executive order recognizing a pathway to citizenship to undocumented spouses of American citizens. It is yet another reason why we need comprehensive immigration reform.

“Once again, we call on Congress to get the job done. Our families can’t wait.”

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 450 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.