January 30, 2017
EXECUTIVE ORDER RELATED TO U.S. ENTRY BY CERTAIN FOREIGN-BORN INDIVIDUALS AND REFUGEES
A final Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” was issued on Friday, January 27, 2017. A copy of the Executive Order may be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states. This Executive Order relates to U.S. entry restrictions and visa issuance restrictions for individuals from certain nations, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Additional countries may later be added on recommendation by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary of State. There are reports of dual nationals being allowed to enter after questioning, but we recommend that until there is a clear governmental directive on the issue and uniform compliance by officers at ports of entry, dual nationals refrain from traveling internationally.
The Executive Order calls for a 90-day suspension of all travelers from the above-named countries seeking entry to the U.S. All immigrant and nonimmigrant nationals from these countries would not be permitted to enter the U.S. or be issued a visa for at least 90 days. Adjudications of other immigration benefits issued by the Department of Homeland Security may also be suspended by the Executive Order.
Additionally, the Executive Order mandates a suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, with the exception of those fleeing from religious persecution. This suspends the admission and resettlement of all refugees for at least 120 days. Refugees who are not from the seven countries listed above and who have been scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in the next few days will be allowed entry to the U.S. Refugee admission and resettlement for Syrian nationals are stopped indefinitely. Refugee admission number targets have been reduced from 110,000 to 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.
Following the signing of the Executive Order, a federal judge in New York issued an order granting a nationwide stay of removal, preventing the deportation of individuals from the affected countries who possess valid visas and approved refugee applications. The judge’s decision, however, does not limit the 90-day and 120-day suspensions on U.S. entry, and the ruling only affects those who had arrived in the U.S. or were in-flight when the order was signed. Another federal judge in Massachusetts issued a Temporary Restraining Order on January 29, 2017 and instructed CBP officials not to detain or remove refugees, those with valid visas and Lawful Permanent Residents, based solely on the executive order, for the next seven days.
Several lawsuits brought by affected and interested parties, including the ACLU, have been filed against this Executive Order and are currently pending, arguing that the Executive Order is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and due process rights.
The Department of Homeland Security has some discretion regarding the admission of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), but it remains uncertain how this Order will impact U.S. LPRs. LPRs should not surrender their green cards if asked to do so. They should not sign Form I-407, Record of Abandonment, without the prior advice of legal counsel. LPRs are not required to sign the form and neither failure to sign nor abandonment is grounds for detention. An LPR who refuses to sign Form I-407 must be issued a Notice to Appear so that an immigration judge can determine whether he or she has lost LPR status. An LPR who is placed in removal proceedings does not lose his or her status until a final order of removal is issued.
To best serve our clients, we will continue to monitor these developments closely and provide additional information once it is available. If you have any questions regarding the Executive Order or its impact, please feel free to contact our office.