On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The text of the order is alarmingly broad and carries potential to impact many more people than those suspected of terrorism including foreign nationals present in the U.S. in lawful nonimmigrant statuses, lawful permanent residents, and citizens of dual nationalities. Many lawsuits have ensued across the country seeking to halt the January 27 EO.
A federal judge in the Eastern District of New York issued the first order, granting a nationwide stay of removal preventing deportation for individuals with valid visas and approved refugee applications affected by the EO. The next decision issued by a federal court in Massachusetts additionally barred federal officials from detaining or removing individuals subject to the EO. At least two other courts have also issued rulings. In a case filed in Virginia, the court ordered federal officials to provide lawyers access to “all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport” and barred officials from deporting covered individuals for the next seven days. In a case out of Washington State, a federal judge barred the federal government from deporting two unnamed individuals from the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security has released a statement indicating that the agency “will comply with judicial orders.” This statement was clarified further by Secretary Kelly, who released a press statement clarifying that the entry of lawful permanent residents to the United States continues to be in the national interest. Federal agencies charged with enforcement of the EO continue to develop their own internal guidance to balance compliance with the EO and existing laws, however new developments continue to ensue by the hour.
As noted, due to the broad language of the EO there is potential for adverse impact lawfully present nonimmigrants, lawful permanent residents, and citizens with dual nationality for those nationals of the seven countries specifically listed in the travel ban – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Additionally, there is at least some associated risk for foreign-born travelers of other nationalities seeking entry to the U.S. as there have been discussions within the administration of updating the restrictions list of countries. Moreover, admission procedures at U.S. ports of entry and visa processing procedures at U.S. Consular posts throughout the world are likely to be significantly altered. The public is reminded that both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have a wide latitude of discretion with respect to admissions procedures and visa processing. As a result, cancellation of all non-essential international travel is encouraged at this time regardless of nationality. Those who have essential travel needs necessitating U.S. departure are encouraged to contact immigration legal counsel to discuss any risks associated with international travel at this time.
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