Urgent Immigration Law Update: President's Executive Orders on Immigration


On Wednesday and Friday of last week, President Donald Trump signed Executive Orders having far reaching effects on U.S. immigration law and procedure. In an effort to inform and advise our clients and the public about these Executive Orders, we've prepared the below summary and relevant advisories.

Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry in the United States, signed January 27, 2017:
  • Suspends visa issuance and admissions for 90 days for any citizens or nationals from the following countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, with case-by-case "national interest" exceptions
  • In 30 days DHS must identify countries that are unable or unwilling to provide adequate information to the U.S. government, and then subsequently ban admissions for citizens of all such countries as well
  • Suspends refugee admissions from all countries for 120 days, during which period DHS is directed to review what procedural measures can be implemented to ensure that those refugees admitted do not pose a "threat to the security and welfare of the United States."
  • Indefinite suspension of refugee admissions for citizens of Syria
  • Reduction of refugee visas from 110,000 to 50,000 for 2017
Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, signed January 25, 2017:
  • Directs DHS to rescind any prior "removal priority" guidance and effectively assign any and all apparent violations of U.S. immigration law as "priority" for removal, including those who have been charged with any criminal offense where such offense has not yet been resolved.
  • Directs DHS to issue guidance to ensure the collection of fines from immigration law violators and those who facilitate their presence in the U.S.
  • Directs the Attorney General and DHS to identify and designate "sanctuary cities," for the purpose of eliminating certain federal funding to those locales.
  • Directs DHS to review and potentially rescind any prior issued or pending immigration related regulation or guidance.
  • Directs DHS and State Department to implement economic and diplomatic sanctions against countries that refuse to accept their citizens who have been ordered removed by the U.S.
  • Directs ICE to create the "Office of Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens."
Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, signed January 25, 2017:
  • Directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) make plans for the design and construction of a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Directs DHS to allocate and assign resources to build, operate, and staff additional detention facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as hire 5,000 additional border patrol agents.
  • Directs DHS to issue new guidance to end the practice of releasing detained individuals accused of violating immigration laws and to quickly remove foreign nationals who have been ordered removed.
  • Directs DHS to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to empower their officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
  • Directs DHS to promulgate new regulations and training regarding the application of immigration parole, asylum, and Special Immigrant Juvenile laws and procedure.
  • Directs the Attorney General to establish new guidelines for federal prosecutors to treat criminal offenses related to the U.S.-Mexico borders as "high priority."
Given these executive actions, we have the following advisories:
  1. Any foreign national citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, or Sudan who are lawfully present* SHOULD NOT depart the United States. DHS and the State Department have indicated that the current ban on admissions for citizens of these seven countries includes dual citizens of other countries (such as dual citizens of the Iran and Canada for example). This means that citizens of these seven countries WITH lawful status will be barred from reentering the U.S. if they depart for any reason. Lawful Permanent Residents (or "green card holders") are not specifically barred from reentering the United States, however we strongly advised against any international travel while the travel ban is in place. Please note, this advisory is specific to the current Executive Orders. Any foreign national present in the United States for temporary duration and/or subject to specific terms should continue to comply with the terms of their visas as normal.
  2. All foreign nationals should carry their documents at all times. We strongly and earnestly advise everyone to carry with them at all times proof of their immigration status.
  • US citizens should carry with them their passport (see below), US birth certificate, naturalization or citizenship certificate, or consular report of birth abroad.
  • Lawful permanent residents ("green card" holders) should carry with them their permanent resident cards, travel documents, or passports with I-551 stamps.
  • Nonimmigrant (or "temporary") visa holders should carry with them their passports with current visas as well as their current I-94 documents (many should be able to go online and print their current I-94s here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home ), or Form I-797 change or extension of status approval notices.
  • TPS and DACA holders, pending asylum or pending adjustment applicants, parole or deferred action holders, and anyone else with an Employment Authorization Document ("EAD" or "work permit") should carry such EADs with them at all times.
  • Anyone with pending change of status, extension of status, adjustment of status, removal of conditions, or renewal applications should carry with them their I-797 receipt notices at all times.
  • Anyone without current lawful immigration status should carry with them proof of their physical presence in the US for the past two years (tax returns, pay-stubs, bank statements, school transcripts, lease agreements, account statements, etc., anything with your name and date on it), as well as proof of family and property ties (children's birth certificates, marriage certificates, titles to vehicles, deeds to houses, etc.) at all times. This is critical to avoid "expedited removal" if one encounters law enforcement officers.
  1. Family, friends, and supporters should have attorneys contact information and copies of important documents on hand if needed. Family, friends, and supporters of foreign nationals who are at risk for apprehension or detention should be prepared to contact their attorneys and have copies of important documents saved in a safe place. Such documents include:
  • Immigration documents including passports, proof of lawful entries, etc.
  • Proof of long duration in the U.S., including tax returns, pay-stubs, bank statements, school transcripts, lease agreements, account statements, etc., anything with your name and date on it.
  • Evidence of family and property ties to the U.S., including children's birth certificates, marriage certificates, titles to vehicles, deeds to houses, etc.
  • Contact information including current addresses and phone numbers for family members with U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other secure immigration status in the event children need to be quickly and safely placed with relatives.

This post originally appeared on Charlotte Immigration Law Firm. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Benjamin A. Snyder is an associate immigration attorney at Charlotte Immigration Law Firm. Originally from Manassas, Virginia, Mr. Snyder moved to North Carolina in 2003. Mr. Snyder earned his Bachelor of Arts from Guilford College and his Juris Doctor from Elon University School of Law, both in Greensboro, North Carolina. While at Elon, Ben worked in the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, where he received the annual Commitment to Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic Award in recognition of his exceptional service to clients. At Elon Law, Mr. Snyder also served as President of the Elon Law ACLU, as Co-Director of the Pro Bono Board, and as a Case Manager for the Innocence Project. As a member of the Moot Court Board, Mr. Snyder competed in the American College of Trial Lawyers National Moot Court Competition and wrote the problem and bench brief for the Elon Law 2012 Billings Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition. In recognition of his student leadership and community service, Mr. Snyder was awarded the 2012 David Gergen Award for Leadership and Professionalism, Elon Law’s highest honor for a graduating student. Prior to joining Charlotte Immigration Law Firm, Mr. Snyder worked at law firms in Greensboro and Charlotte focusing on immigration law. Mr. Snyder’s practice is 100% devoted to immigration law. Mr. Snyder represents clients in all manner of immigration matters, including employment and family based immigration petitions, nonimmigrant visa applications, consular processing, and immigration removal defense. Mr. Snyder is admitted to the North Carolina Bar, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.