On January 20, 2017, President Donald J. Trump assumed office as President of the United States. With the administration change comes certain policy changes that will affect U.S. immigration law. We strive to keep our clients informed of all important news updates, and we will continue to provide ongoing updates.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” The order temporarily suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days. The order also temporarily suspends the entry of nationals from the following seven (7) countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The entry ban for nationals of these countries includes dual nationals and U.S. permanent residents.
Federal judges in Massachusetts and New York have issued emergency stays pending review on the constitutionality of the executive order. The language of the order, as well as President Trump’s statements, indicate that waivers would be available, but thus far there has not been guidance on how waivers would be issued. President Trump has indicated that persons identifying as Christian would be given preference. U.S. Embassies and Consulates in the seven (7) named countries have ceased issuing visas to nationals of the named countries. In retaliation, Iran has announced that U.S. citizens will no longer be issued visas to enter the country.
On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued three (3) executive orders in reference to immigration. The first two (2) focus on deportation priorities and border security, and the third focuses on limitations to refugee programs. The following is a breakdown of the central points of each of the orders:
Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
- Prioritizes the removal of aliens who have been charged with certain specific offenses under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), including crimes involving moral turpitude and aggravated felonies;
- Also prioritizes the removal of aliens who:
(a) Have been convicted of any criminal offense;
(b) Have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;
(c) Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
(d) Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency;
(e) Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
(f) Are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or
(g) In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.
- Directs immigration agencies to hire 10,000 additional immigration officers;
- Authorizes State and local law enforcement officials to perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens;
- Declares that “sanctuary cities” are ineligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes;
- Directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and call out any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens;
- Calls on the Secretary of State to ensure that diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States;
- Mandates that Immigration and Customs Enforcement establish an office to provide proactive, timely, adequate, and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens and the family members of such victims;
- Directs that agencies exclude from their privacy policies persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents;
- Mandates that information on the following be collected and reported quarterly:
(a) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons;
(b) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated as Federal pretrial detainees under the supervision of the United States Marshals Service; and
(c) the immigration status of all convicted aliens incarcerated in State prisons and local detention facilities.
2. Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
- Mandates that steps be taken to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border;
- Directs the allocation of all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control, or establish contracts to construct, operate, or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico;
- Mandates that resources be dedicated to placing asylum officers and immigration judges at immigration detention facilities;
- Instructs the Department of Homeland Security to end "catch and release," whereby aliens are routinely released in the United States shortly after their apprehension for violations of immigration law;
- Directs DHS to ensure that aliens are returned to the territory from which they came pending a formal removal proceeding;
- Calls on DHS and CBP to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and ensure that such agents enter on duty and are assigned to duty stations as soon as is practicable;
- Stresses that the abuse of asylum and parole must be ended; and
- Authorizes state and local enforcement of immigration laws.
3. Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals
- Suspends the issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of designated “countries of particular concern” and suspends entry into the United States of such persons for 30 days;
- Calls for the implementation of a program (to include use of an identity-document database and in-person interviews) during the adjudication process for immigration benefits to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis, with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission;
- Suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for Fiscal Year 2017 for 120 days;
- Halts all refugee processing of and the admittance of nationals of Syria as refugees until further notice;
- Imposes an overall limit of 50,000 refugees during Fiscal Year 2017;
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement;
- Calls for expedited completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System; and
- Suspends waivers for visa interviews and mandates a thorough review of the all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements.
We urge clients to contact our office if you believe that any of these policies may affect you. If you are a national of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen, we strongly discourage travel at this time until further notice. Please contact our office at 856-222-0130 if you have questions about how these policies may affect you or your business.