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Conservative group sues over Prince Harry’s immigration papers

By Sarah May on
 May 2, 2023

Having courted significant controversy long before moving to the United States, Britain's Prince Harry – also known as the Duke of Sussex – is now the subject of a lawsuit initiated by a conservative think tank against the Biden administration seeking access to the royal's immigration files, as the Daily Mail reports.

The complaint, filed by the Heritage Foundation, is asking the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make Harry's visa application and documentation public to aid in determining whether he received preferential treatment despite his acknowledged history of drug use – something which is often disqualifying for admission to the country.

Heritage Foundation Sues

The aforementioned lawsuit comes roughly a month after the Heritage Foundation made a since-denied Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records pertaining to Harry's admission to the United States, as the Washington Examiner notes.

Though immigration records are customarily among the materials exempt from FOIA disclosure rules, the Heritage Foundation maintains that the public interest in the prince's presence in the country, particularly with what is known about his personal history with illegal substances, outweighs such considerations.

The organization's complaint reads in part, “Widespread and continuous media coverage has surfaced the question of whether DHS properly admitted the Duke of Sussex in light of the fact that he has publicly admitted to the essential elements of a number of drug offenses in both the United States and abroad.”

Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom added, “There is a very clear U.S. public interest in ensuring Harry did not receive any favorable or preferential treatment by the immigration authorities” and said, “Harry should welcome the release of his immigration application so the public can see what was put in the application,” as the Mail noted.

Voluminous Admissions

Prince Harry has not been shy when it comes to detailing his past experiences with illegal drugs, some of which date back to his teenage years, as he readily revealed in his recent memoir, Spare, as the Examiner explains.

In the book, Harry states that he has indulged in cocaine, psychedelic mushrooms, and marijuana over the course of his life, and he has also spoken about his experimentation with ayahuasca, an Amazonian hallucinogenic plant.

Furthermore, in a recent online discussion with so-called trauma expert Gabor Maté, the Duke of Sussex indicated his belief in the important role psychedelic drugs have played in his ability to deal with tumultuous times in his life, as PageSix reported in March.

Speaking of his use of psychedelics, Harry explained, “It was the cleaning of the windscreen, the removal of life's filters – these layers of filters – it removed it all for me and brought me a sense of relaxation, relief, comfort, a lightness that I managed to hold back for a period of time,” and he described the experiences as “one of the fundamental parts” of his life.

Fair Play or Preferential Treatment?

A key question the Heritage Foundation asks in its quest for Harry's immigration records is whether he provided honest answers on his visa application regarding his past drug use and – if he did – whether federal authorities simply overlooked what is often for other – less famous – applicants a disqualifying factor.

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told PageSix earlier this year that due to what is already known about his past history Harry should never have been permitted to take up residence in the United States in the first place, as the Post noted.

Rahmani stated, “An admission of drug use is usually grounds for inadmissibility. That means Prince Harry's visa should have been denied or revoked because he admitted to using cocaine, mushrooms, and other drugs.”

Taking a different view, however, was attorney James Leonard, who suggested that absent a drug-related conviction, it was unlikely that Harry would ever have been denied entry. “You've got to give [the government] something that would trigger [a probe], and revealing it in a book, that you experimented with drugs when you were a young man, I don't think gets you there," he said.

Assurances Sought

While the ultimate outcome of the Heritage Foundation lawsuit is an open question, Gardiner believes it is incumbent on the Biden administration to “assure the American people that the rule of law is applied equally with regard to immigration,” as GB News noted.

The group's complaint further contended, “While this case focuses on the widespread public and press interest on the specific issue of whether DHS acted, and is acting, appropriately as regard the Duke of Sussex, it cannot be separated from its broader context.”

“The press and Congressional hearing rooms are replete with detailed accusations that DHS is deliberately refusing to enforce the country's immigration laws and is responsible for the current crisis at the border,” the complaint went on.

Whether the lawsuit will result in greater transparency with regard to Harry or to larger questions of federal immigration law enforcement remains to be seen, but in the meantime, the Duke of Sussex will be in the spotlight yet again this weekend for a reportedly very brief solo visit to London for the coronation of his father, King Charles III.