On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed two executive orders–one addressing border security and enforcement and the other addressing interior enforcement. On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed a third executive order relating to visa issuance, screening procedures, and refugees.
In the first two executive orders, the President announced that he would order the Department of Homeland Security to construct a Southern border wall, increase the size of the enforcement agencies, and require that states and localities engage in immigration enforcement to supplement federal efforts. “Sanctuary” cities will now be at risk of losing federal grant funding. The President also drastically altered the current immigration enforcement categories, eliminating guidance that directed officers to prioritize the most dangerous individuals for removal. The order reinstates the Secure Communities program that resulted in the widespread unlawful detention and subsequent removal of numerous individuals for traffic stops and other civil violations. The announced enforcement actions will take Secure Communities of the past even further by directing law enforcement to focus their attention on individuals who have not even committed a crime. Over the next few weeks and months, we expect the President’s cabinet and agencies’ staff to begin implementing the directives in these orders.
Late Friday, the President issued another executive order announcing an immediate four month suspension of the entire U.S Refugee Resettlement program, a reduction of the annual refugee admissions ceiling by more than half, and a ban on the admission of all Syrian refugees for the immediate future. In addition, the President will impose an immediate 90-day ban on nearly all admissions of nationals from the seven designated Muslim-majority countries: Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan.
The US Department of Homeland Security provided further details of the travel ban in a recent statement:
“For the next 90 days, nearly all travelers, except U.S. citizens, traveling on passports from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen will be temporarily suspended from entry to the United States. The 90 day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.
Importantly, however, Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate. The entry of these individuals, subject to national security checks, is in the national interest. Therefore, we expect swift entry for these individuals.
In the first 30 days, DHS will perform a global country-by-country review of the information each country provides when their citizens apply for a U.S. visa or immigration benefit. Countries will then have 60 days to comply with any requests from the U.S. government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide.
DHS and the Department of State have the authority, on a case-by-case basis, to issue visas or allow the entry of nationals of these countries into the United States when it serves the national interest. These seven countries were designated by Congress and the Obama Administration as posing a significant enough security risk to warrant additional scrutiny in the visa waiver context.
The Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and interagency partners review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to citizens of the United States.
The Executive Order does not prohibit entry of, or visa issuance to, travelers with diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas.
The Department of Homeland Security along with the Department of State, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will develop uniform screening standards for all immigration programs government-wide.
Upon resumption of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, refugee admissions to the United States will not exceed 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.
The Secretary of Homeland Security will expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system of all travelers into the United States.”
Any inquiries can be made to the Emerald Isle Immigration Center (EIIC) at their Woodside, Queens’s office at (718) 478-5502 or at their Woodlawn, Bronx office at (718) 324-3039.
Further updates will be posted on the EIIC website www.eiic.org.