Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan

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They call him The Tsar.  And deservedly so.

Who else can unilaterally, singlehandedly reinterpret Uzbek divorce law to deny numerous  Uzbek Diversity Visa applicants?  Who else can crush immigrant dreams using a variety of creative pretexts: disqualifying an applicant for failing to include a 3 day old baby (with no legal name) in a DV entry; a single woman for failing to include her nonexistent husband in her DV entry; a family for not including a second child in their entry, a child who was stillborn? Who else can have his staff ask a single woman applicant why she is not married or an infertile woman why she does not have more children? Who else can test an applicant’s knowledge of his third and fourth languages – i.e., not his native language and the language he learned in school – in black letter violation of the Department of State’s own rules to deny a visa?  Who else can blatantly disregard the Department of State’s own rules by failing to provide the factual basis for immigrant visa denials?  Who else can deny a visa – just because…? In this four-part series of articles, consular excess – in the person of the Consular Chief at the US Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Hadi Deeb – will be examined.

In the Age of Trump, it would seem that nothing can surprise – but everything can shock. The case of Mr. Deeb certainly shocks – even to this lawyer who has practiced immigration law for 25 years.  Remember, while immigration matters in the United States are at least subject to some checks and balances, with the judicial system providing some legal safety net, visa applicants overseas have no such legal buffer or security. With very limited exception, the doctrine of consular nonreviewability puts consular decisions and actions outside the purview of the courts. Apparently, Mr. Deeb counts on this to insulate his capricious and discriminatory decisions from public view.

To be clear, no one begrudges consular verifications of visa applicant credentials. Tashkent is a high-fraud post, and this practitioner applauds efforts to weed out fraud.  Yet the existence of such fraud does not give license to serial mistreatment of and discrimination against Uzbek visa applicants. Approximately 10 years ago, the Embassy in Tashkent was similarly headed by abusive consular officers – John Ballard, Rafael Perez, and Meredith Rubin. But the Visa Office in the Department of State stepped in at that time to curb consular abuses. In the Age of Trump, that is no longer the case.

Perhaps worst of all, it now appears that at least one manifestation of Mr. Deeb’s consular excesses has seeped into new rules recently released by the Department of State. That is to say, Mr. Deeb has influenced policymakers in the Department of State to further empower consular officers to act on whims, caprices, and in bad faith. The following articles will discuss in more detail some of the victims of this consular fiat in Uzbekistan.