Notice Regarding President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Immigrants and Refugees
by Alex Voschinsky, Esq.
Published: February 3, 2017
[February 22, 2017 UPDATE: The Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit made a ruling that effectively stopped the January 27, 2017 immigration ban by refusing to cancel the District Court's Temporary Restraining Order. Meaning that as of the time of this writing, visas from the seven countries affected by the ban are reinstated. The Trump administration decided not to pursue further legal action on the ban, instead, saying that a different Executive Order will be issued in the coming days (likely with similar aims to the prior order).]
On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” With the stated goal of fighting terrorism and protecting national security, it bars entry into the US from 7 predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days and halts the refugee program for 120 days from the date of the order globally. It halts the refugee program from Syria indefinitely.
Following are the key points of this executive action:
Suspends entry into the US of immigrants and non-immigrants from countries listed in INA section 217(a)(12), excluding those on diplomatic visas NATO visas, C-2 as well as G-1, 2, 3 and 4 visas, for 90 days from the date of the order. This list of countries may be expanded after a 60-day review of the screening practices of various foreign countries, the Secretary of Homeland Security will submit a list of countries that should be included in this ban. Currently, the ban applies to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.
Suspends the refugee admission program as a whole for 120 days. At the end of the 120 days, admissions of refugees may be resumed but only for countries where the secretaries of State, Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence determine that additional screening procedures that will be implemented over this period of time are going to be “adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the US. After that, the order directs admission of refugees to be prioritized in favor of those people of a minority religion, facing religious-based persecution.
Indefinitely suspends the entry of Syrian refugees
Consideration of rescission of exercise of authority relating to the Terrorism Grounds of Inadmissibility
Calls for expedited completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the US
Suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program
Directs the Secretary of State to review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements with other countries with respect to validity period and fees
Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General to collect and make publicly available information pertaining to numbers of foreign nationals engaged in terrorism, radicalization and gender-based violence in the US
This executive order is leading to a great deal of confusion with processing those without US Citizenship entering the US from the seven countries singled out for the ban, including Legal Permanent Residents (green-card holders). The order is currently being challenged in numerous lawsuits around the country, particularly, the part of the order suspending entry from the 7 listed countries. On Saturday, January 28, 2017, a judge on the Federal Eastern District Court of New York issued an emergency injunction, barring the removal of individuals with refugee applications approved by USCIS, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from the 7 countries referenced in the order legally authorized to enter the US. Several other district courts (the lowest federal court) have issued various temporary injunctions against the part of the executive order imposing the travel ban, including in Washington, Virginia Hawaii. It's currently estimated that between 60,000 and 100,000 visas have been revoked on the basis of the president's order.
As the number of lawsuits over this executive action are multiplying on a daily basis, this is an evolving situation, with the courts deciding on the legality and constitutionality of its different parts.
Our initial analysis:
LPRs (green-card holders) returning to the US who have been gone for 180 days or less and have not abandoned their LPR status or committed certain offenses shall not be regarded as seeking an admission into the US (INA § 101(a)(13(C)). Since this category of immigrants have already been granted admission into the US, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cannot legally prevent them from reentering the US based on this order.
While this order is being challenged on Due Process and Establishment Clause grounds, it is unclear what the results will be for those currently outside the US or who are planning to travel outside the US without US citizenship, particularly those who are citizens of the seven countries listed in this order. For that reason, we advise avoiding foreign travel by nationals of the seven enumerated countries, including LPRs (green-card holders). However, nationals of all countries, particularly Muslim-majority countries should use discretion when traveling abroad and LPRs should refrain from traveling outside the US for more than 180 days, as they will need to be re-admitted into the US at the conclusion of their travel, potentially making them come under the travel ban.
Those currently in the US and who have valid immigrant or non-immigrant visas and those who have been granted asylum, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) should not be targeted for removal by this order. Nor should this order have an immediate effect on those people with pending asylum cases. However, please note that unlike withholding of removal and CAT relief, asylum is discretionary and we do not yet know if and how this order will affect the court’s use of discretion in asylum cases.
This order effectively halts the refugee admission program globally for 120 days from the order. This means that all refugee applications at US consulates around the world will be immediately stopped. It’s uncertain what will happen at the end of the 120 days or, possibly, sooner if the executive order gets withdrawn or found to be unconstitutional by the courts.
We at Immigrant Rep, Inc. are watching these developments closely and will issue further updates as the situation becomes clearer. Due to the vague nature of this executive order and its uncertain implementation as well as uncertainty regarding pending and forthcoming litigation over this order, we urge caution for anyone without US citizenship traveling abroad. If you, your friend or your family member is effected or you believe may potentially be effected by this order, contact the attorneys at Immigrant Rep immediately:
Joshua Effron, Esq:
Phone: (310) 427-7705
Alexander Voschinsky, Esq:
Phone: (310) 986-6073