What Is Going On In Immigration?
Executive Orders, Immigration Raids, Heightened Scrutiny at the Borders: A Whirlwind Month
Five days into office, President Trump signed several Executive Orders (EO) on immigration, including the travel ban, that wreaked havoc on U.S. immigration laws and procedures and caused chaos, panic, and fear within our immigration community. Below is a summary of what has happened, where we are, and what we can expect.
Current Status of the Travel Ban
As most already know, on January 27 President Trump issued an Executive Order, "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals," that temporarily halted all entries for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The Refugee Admissions Program also was suspended. The EO went into effect immediately and its disorganized, chaotic rollout prompted a wave of legal challenges. Several permanent residents and visa holders who were denied entry and detained at airports filed lawsuits, prompting some immediate but limited judicial actions. Suits were filed in Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, and Washington. On February 3, a federal district court in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting the government from implementing the travel ban. The TRO was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit on February 9. As a result, the travel ban is no longer in effect. President Trump now has several options: he can choose to appeal the Ninth Circuit decision to the Supreme Court, go back to the district court and argue the government's case on the merits, or scrap the order and draft a revised one.
For the short time that the travel ban was in place, U.S. embassies and consular posts were instructed to immediately suspend issuance of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and consulates had been instructed to cancel visa interviews for affected individuals. Moreover, visas previously issued were summarily revoked. These visas have since been reinstated. There was also confusion whether dual citizens of a targeted country would be banned from travel. DHS has since confirmed that the EO did not restrict the travel of dual nationals from any country with a valid U.S. visa in a passport of an unrestricted country and that embassy and consulates would continue to process their visa applications even if they hold dual nationality from one of the seven restricted countries.
It is expected that President Trump will re-draft an Executive Order travel ban, but as of this writing, no signed or preliminary EO has been released. It is likely that green card holders will be exempt from any new Executive Order travel ban, and it is also expected that language relating to nationality-based travel will be stricken to ensure that the new EO withstands judicial scrutiny.