News and Updates

Post Election Advisory Part 6: The Administration’s Executive Order on Terrorism and Refugees; Is it a “Muslim Ban”?

 

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I. Background:

Just one week into the Trump Presidency, the Administration issued Executive Order 13769, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. ” The Executive Order (“EO”) has been welcomed by some as a necessary measure for protecting America from Islamic terrorism. For others, the EO has raised deep concerns about whether it is consistent with America’s heritage as an immigrant nation, whether it reflects American values and whether it is in America’s long-term interests. For the complete text of President Trump’s Executive Order click here.

For those opposed to the EO, the government’s announcement has triggered varying reactions, from anger to anxiety. The information below is intended to answer questions and to address concerns. Any person who is concerned about how this Executive Order or any of the administration’s immigration-related actions may impact them or their family members may forward questions to the Law Office of Matthew I. Hirsch by e-mail to info@hirschlaw1.com.

II. The Executive Order:

As an initial matter, it is important to understand what the EO covers, and what it does not cover. It is mostly aimed at refugee processing and – for now – at citizens of seven nations previously linked to religiously-inspired terrorism. Specifically,

  • the EO suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, after which the program will be conditionally resumed for individual countries. This means that the U.S. will not process any application for refugee admission, for any person from any country, for the next four months.
  • the EO suspends the entry, regardless of visa status, of all citizens or nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, after which an updated list of prohibited countries will be determined
  • the EO suspends the entry of refugees from Syria indefinitely, with exceptions to be made on a case-by-case basis
  • the EO also calls for the expedited completion and implementation of a biometric entry/exit tracking system for all travelers coming into the United States.

III. The Response:

The announcement of the EO was accompanied by considerable chaos, as immigration officials and consular officers scrambled to understand the scope of the quickly-issued EO. Since the EO was enacted, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has confirmed: 1) that the provisions do not apply to individuals who are lawful permanent residents of the United States and 2) the EO would not be applied against dual national i.e. individuals born in one of the designated countries who hold a passport from a non-banned country.

The announcement of the EO has also been met with public demonstrations against the so-called Muslim ban, pronouncements from U.S. companies and universities against the EO and lawsuits on behalf of individuals adversely impacted by the EO. Public reaction for and against the EO has been strong. At least four Courts have entered orders enjoining – that is preventing – the imposition of the ban. As of this writing, the resolution of the conflict between the Courts and the Administration remains unresolved.

IV. Impact and Advice:

For individuals from any of the seven identified nations who are in the U.S. in non-immigrant status (H-1B, L-1, TN, R, etc.) as of this date, you must not leave; you will be prevented from returning.

For individuals from any of the seven identified nations who are outside the U.S., you will be prevented from returning, even if you have a validly-issued visa, parole or refugee travel document.

For individuals from any of the seven identified nations who are in the U.S. in non-immigrant status who are applying for an immigration benefit i.e. extension of status, change of status, employment authorization, permanent residence, naturalization, your applications are being held in suspense. They will be reviewed but no decision will be rendered until after the stay is lifted.

For individuals from any of the seven identified nations who are in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents, you are not barred from returning to the U.S. from overseas travel, but you should travel with caution. You should expect to be referred to secondary immigration inspections, possibly questioned, possibly delayed.

For individuals from countries which are not singled-out, the EO should not result in any change of plans for travel or otherwise. You may travel out of the U.S. You and your family members may apply for and be granted non-immigrant visas. You may apply for permanent residence, for changes and extensions of status, for lawful permanent residence and for citizenship.

Please note however: the EO suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program. This means that, if you are applying for an extension of a non-immigrant visa and if you were previously eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview, you are no longer eligible for such a waiver. You will need to appear for an in-person interview as part of the visa application process.

V. The Future:

No one can predict the future in respect to business employment-based immigration, family-based immigration, international students or other issues impacting non-citizens. There are strong constituencies in the U.S. who recognize the value of immigration to the U.S. and the contributions of foreign workers to U.S. companies and to the economy. There are strong constituencies in the U.S. who are attached to America’s heritage as a nation of immigrants and a place of refuge for those escaping persecution. At the same time, there are many Americans who have strongly held beliefs which run counter to these constituencies.

For now, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • One, there is no reason for fear. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State will continue to carry out their missions in compliance with the law.
  • Two, no one should alter their plans or behavior on the basis of rumors, suspicions or hearsay. It is important to rely only on trusted, verified sources of information on immigration topics.
  • Three, further changes in these policies – including the addition of other countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and others and changes tot the H-1B visa program – are possible.
  • Four, advocacy is important. Never be afraid to express your point of view to an elected official or government employee. They serve the American public.
  • Five, this law firm appreciates that you are concerned and will do its best to keep you informed and to protect the legal interests of all of its employees.

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