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Lawsuit Filed To Correct Inappropriate Medical Exam Questioning And Misapplication Of The Law At The US Embassy In Manila, Philippines

by Robert Reeves

Reeves & Associates, an immigration law firm, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines to stop improper questioning of individuals concerning experimental use of drugs in order to impose a lifetime bar for qualified visa applicants seeking to enter the United States. The case was filed on August 29, 2005 and will be tried before the Honorable Percy Anderson, Case No. CV 05-6408 PA (SSx). This lawsuit will address improper actions of physicians at the medical exams as well as misapplication of the law by officers during the consular interview. Reeves & Associates expects this case will have a far-reaching impact on thousands of visa applicants who have been barred from the United States by the Manila embassy.

Robert DuPont, attorney for the Reeves Firm comments “This is not a case about admitting drug addicts or drug dealers into the United States. This case concerns the permanent denial of visas to persons who have admitted one time experimental use of drugs such as marijuana, or who admit drug use that is remote in time. We have studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse which show over one-half of American high-schoolers have experimented with drugs. Even U.S. Presidents have admitted to experimentation with drugs. Congress never intended youthful experimentation to be a reason to exclude qualified visa holders.”

The case challenges the Manila Embassy’s use of the medical exam to extract “admissions” from unwitting visa applicants. The medical exam is a requirement for all immigrant and some non-immigrant visa categories. The purpose of the medical exam as defined by the Centers for Disease Control is to identify medical conditions, including current use or addiction to drugs, not to identify youthful experimentation for the purpose of developing evidence to bar visa applicants for life.

It is believed that certain officials at the U.S. Embassy in Manila are instructing physicians to obtain admissions of past drug use, even experimentation, and then use that information to permanently bar visa applicants from entry into the United States. The danger here is that once applicants learn they should not share information with physicians at the medical exam, applicants will also not share crucial information concerning the state of their health.

“Physicians are reportedly using deceit and misrepresentation, by misleading individuals as to the consequences of answering repeated questions regarding drug use. These actions undermine the whole medical exam process which depends on trust in a doctor patient relationship and that patients are forthcoming with their medical information.” stated attorney Robert DuPont.

The lawsuit also seeks to force the Embassy to recognize statutes and regulations enacted by Congress for one-time experimental use of drugs, or proof of recovery from drug addiction. Consular officials have ignored specific provisions in the law which effectively excuse experimentation with drugs or drug use that is remote in time and instead apply a very broad provision concerning admission of conduct which violates a law involving a controlled substance. Attorney DuPont stated “Embassy officials cannot and should not ignore the clear intent of Congress in drafting laws which provide relief to individuals who admit to long past experimentation with drugs.” It is expected that this lawsuit will affect thousands of cases in which qualified visa petitioners were wrongfully denied entry based on an admission of past drug use at a medical exam.

The effects of this lawsuit will be dramatic as most individuals who have been refused entry to the United States still have a valid immigrant visa petition. “Once we get the declaratory relief we believe our clients are entitled to they can return to the embassy and re-apply for admission based on their long-approved visa petitions.” The lawsuit includes spouses, sons and daughters of United States citizens and legal permanent resident petitioners. “ We think this case will have a dramatic impact and re-unite families separated and ruined by these policies and practices which appear to be unique to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.” states attorney DuPont. “If you or your family members have been refused admission to the U.S. based on admissions made at a medical exam, it is crucial that you contact a qualified immigration attorney who can examine the facts and determine whether you should consider trying to re-apply for admission or seek other remedies in court.”

About The Author

Robert Reeves earned a national reputation as an immigration rights advocate for his commitment to and successful representation of hundreds of clients in the United States federal courts. Mr. Reeves is an active lecturer on various immigration-related topics, including immigrants' rights and federal court proceedings involving the INS.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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