The global media frenzy around Prince Harry should force the Biden administration to hand over his US immigration data, a federal court has heard.
Lawyers from the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation said Harry is an important public figure in the US and Americans have a right to know his immigration status.
Earlier on Tuesday, they clashed with US government lawyers during a 75-minute hearing in Washington DC.
Heritage had sued the Department for Homeland Security in an effort to expedite their request to place the Duke of Sussex’s visa application in the public domain.
Prince Harry will arrive at the High Court in London earlier on Tuesday as part of a separate trial
Samuel Dewey, the US lawyer trying to get the Biden administration to eventually release Prince Harry’s visa files
Heritage representative Samuel Dewey said the case had received “widespread and exceptional media coverage,” prompting “questions about the integrity of the government.”
John Bardo, the lawyer who defended the US government, claimed that the coverage came from ‘obscure publications’ in the UK and should be ignored.
But many of the news articles quoted came from British outlets, including DailyMail.com, which has millions of readers in the United States, Dewey argued.
“We don’t think that counts as obscure or niche,” he told Judge Carl Nichols, a Donald Trump appointee.
The Heritage Foundation wants to know how the 38-year-old British royal answered questions about his past drug use when he entered the country in the US
It came after Prince Harry confessed to using a range of illegal substances in his recent memoir ‘Spare’.
Under US law, admitting drug use can be grounds for denial of a visa application.
“We’re not some voyeuristic fishing expedition here. The focus is: has DHS complied with the law?’ said Heritage attorney Dewey after the court hearing.
Heritage lawyers had sought a court order to compel DHS to respond to their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the duke’s immigration papers.
Judge Nichols spoke of his “frustration” that some DHS officials had yet to respond, calling Tuesday’s hearing “completely unnecessary.”
“I’m a little frustrated because I’ve been asked to resolve an issue that doesn’t even approach the bottom line,” he said angrily.
The judge has given DHS one week to indicate whether it is in principle prepared to respond to or speed up the request for information from the think tank.
Nile Gardiner, the director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, said the case was part of a personal vendetta against the Duke of Sussex.
“Ultimately, this is about accountability, transparency, and openness on behalf of the U.S. government regarding an immigration application by a high-profile individual,” he said.
(Prince Harry) is actively involved in a number of causes, has done multiple high-profile interviews, participated in a Netflix documentary that has been watched by tens of millions of Americans — so he’s a big figure.
“This is ultimately about U.S. immigration law, making sure it’s applied fairly and equally to everyone.”
Nile Gardiner, a former aide to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said Heritage wanted to ensure that US immigration law was applied fairly
The DC hearing came after Prince Harry testified before English judges about his case against the publisher of the British tabloid Daily Mirror.
He is suing Mirror Group Newspapers for damages, alleging that journalists were associated with unlawful information-gathering methods.
Prince Harry will arrive at the High Court in London today as part of a separate trial
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have positioned themselves as public figures in the US since parting ways with the British Royal Family in 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were last seen together in the UK at the late Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral last September, months before ‘Spare’ was published
The details in Harry’s visa application could spell trouble for his future life in the United States, according to the Heritage Foundation.
A confession to drug use does not automatically mean you will be banned from the United States for life.
Any denial of entry can be reversed after a personal interview at a US consulate or official immigration office, where a waiver can be issued.
This is the part of the visa application that Prince Harry would need to complete in order to enter the United States
There is a history of authorities releasing immigration documents on public figures.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services website has an electronic reading room that contains the files of some celebrities.
The records of the late musicians George Michael and John Lennon are online, as are those of the mother of US Vice President Kamala Harris.
Since arriving in the country in 2020, Harry has befriended prominent Democratic Party figures such as former President Barack Obama.
He is also close to major Democratic donors, including Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, raising fears he could become an “ignorant pawn in a very political game.”
DailyMail.com has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security and a spokesman for the Duke of Sussex for comment.