Immigration Policy Updates

Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump on January 20, 2017, the new administration continues to issue Executive Orders and other agency directives that change immigration policy in the United States.

 

Below is an evolving timeline of changed policies that impact non-U.S. citizens and the implementation of immigration laws, along with guidance and commentary from STERN Law.

Stay tuned for continuing developments and updates.

 



  • June 29, 2017: Limited Travel Ban restrictions are re-implemented and in effect at airports and U.S. consulates worldwide.

Timing: Official Customs and Border Protection (CBP) guidance says they’ll start implementing their directives at at 8pm on Thursday the 29th. Some airports have said they’ll start as early as 10:30am on Thursday (no word on Atlanta).

Direct from CBP: “The impact at the ports will be minimal, because all individuals already in possession of valid visas will be authorized to travel.”

Direct from Department of State (DOS): Nothing, yet. DOS is responsible for drafting the bulk of the policy guidance for how this will be implemented going forward, as the government anticipates this will mostly impact those abroad.

Report: We need to know how monitor the implementation of the Supreme Court’s “bona fide relationship” test. Attorneys should report what you see/hear/experience here: www.aila.org/travelban

Plan for Now: Local attorneys have volunteered in shifts to be ready at the airports to assist with blocked admissions. We’re in coordination with them to monitor and see if more volunteers will be needed.


  • June 26, 2017: U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on the travel ban – keeping some of the federal court injunctions but unfreezing other parts.

The Supreme Court is allowing the travel ban to go into effect (sections 2(c) and section 6) relating to “foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” People with connections—people with family in the US, students at U.S. universities, lecturers invited by a U.S. entity—can come in. However, discrimination against people with no connections to the U.S. is allowed. The Court’s order could lead to chaos and rights violations at the airport, since it’s not clear how the “bona fide” language will be interpreted by the Department of State during visa interviews. Decision here.


  • May 15, 2017: Federal Appeals Court scheduled to hear argument on the current block of Administration’s Travel Ban Order

Ninth Circuit hearing on the Court’s injunction of travel ban will air live on C-Span.  Access here.


  • April 18, 2017: President Trump issues Executive Order, “Buy American and Hire American”

This Order calls for the prioritization of American products and labor. The Order itself does not change any law or remove existing legal options for foreign workers, but it requires that the foreign worker programs be reviewed and reformed “to ensure that H1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”

Find full Executive Order here.


  • March 23, 2017: Increased immigration enforcement proves to have significant impact on immigrant communities and the legal system.  STERN Law issues guidance on how to fight ICE detention and deportation.

Changes in immigration enforcement policy now call for ICE enforcement against anyone who is unlawfully in the United States. During President Obama’s administration, ICE focused its resources only on removing people with certain types of criminal convictions. If you did not fit into that category, ICE would not bother you. However, things are very different now under the Trump administration. Currently, anyone who is in the U.S. unlawfully is at risk of ICE detention and removal proceedings in Immigration Court.


  • March 10, 2017: The continued existence of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program is in a fragile position, with the possibility of the President’s elimination by Executive Order.  STERN Law provides recommendations for DACA applicants.

Currently, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program still operates. Indeed, none of the Executive Orders or DHS memos have eliminated it. Applications are being accepted, and hopefully we will continue to still see application approvals. However, we do not know exactly how US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) currently processes DACA applications. It isn’t clear whether they are processing as usual, or if they are slowing down the processing and approvals to wait on some action by the President. Find full recommendations here.


  • March 6, 2017: Federal Judge blocks Administration’s Revised “Travel Ban” Order.

Federal Judge in Hawaii stops the implementation of the March 6th Order that banned admission of visa applicants from listed Muslim-majority countries.  Travel and admission may continue as usual, as it did prior to any travel ban orders issued by the Trump Administration. The federal lawsuit will continue and the Judge’s “freeze” will remain in place until there is a more developed hearing on the issues presented by both sides.  To Be Continued..


  • March 6, 2017: President Trump revisits the Travel Ban (previously issued under EO 13769) and signs Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”

This revised Order modifies travel restrictions in a way that the Executive Branch hopes will pass constitutional scrutiny and that it’s allowed by the Courts. It removes the restriction on lawful permanent residents and visa holders who have been previously admitted. This Order still limits refugee admissions, those from Syria and first-time visa entrants with employment and family-based visas.

Find full Executive Order here.


  • February 20, 2017DHS publishes implementation memos on latest Executive Orders:
    “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies”
    and “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest.”

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) created an information webpage with links to relevant memos and fact sheets on the topic of ICE detention, removal and other internal enforcement policies.


  • February 11, 2017: STERN Law publishes in depth Immigration Update to address impact of recent Executive Orders.

STERN Law provides guidance on the administration’s continuing policy changes with an in-depth Immigration Update. It covers: International Travel, ICE Enforcement of Immigration Laws within the U.S., and the immediate future of DACA protections. You may find this update here, and the Spanish version here.

CNN hosts Attorney Jessica Stern once again to continue the discussion on President Trump’s Executive Orders.


  • February 9, 2017: President Trump signs 2 Executive Orders 1) EO 13773 – “Enforcing Federal Law With Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking,” and 2) EO 13774, “Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.”

The Executive Orders have not changed any actual law that exists. Instead, the orders direct the agencies under the control of the Executive Branch of U.S. government to operate differently. It changes policies, but it does not eliminate or change any legal benefit, right or protection provided by federal statutes or the Constitution of the United States.

Find full Executive Orders here and here.


  • February 3, 2017: Federal Judge blocks “Travel Ban” Order and admissions from banned countries are permitted entry.

Seattle Federal Judge issues temporary injunction on Executive Order that banned entry from non-U.S. citizen nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. As of today’s date, the travel ban Order is on hold during back-and-forth federal court litigation after the States of Washington and Minnesota sued to protect the rights of its citizens and businesses affected by the travel ban.


  • February 2, 2017: USCIS releases an Internal Memo instructing USCIS officers to continue processing  immigration applications despite country of nationality (in light of Travel Ban EO 13769).

USCIS confirms that it will continue approvals of applications for adjustment of status or naturalization despite ban on travel from certain Muslim-majority countries. USCIS affirms that the country of nationality alone should not prevent adjudication decisions.


  • January 27, 2017: President Trump signs Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” – AKA the Travel Ban.

Attorney Jessica Stern explains the controversial “travel ban” on CNN National News.


  • January 25, 2017: President Trump signs 2 Executive Orders 1) EO 13767 – “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and 2) EO 13768 –  “Enhancing Public Safety in the United States”

This Order eliminated the Priority Enforcement Program (“PEP). This means that ICE will no longer use discretion in the enforcement of deportation/removal against any particular category of individuals. ICE will no longer differentiate between those with criminal convictions versus those who are simply undocumented without any other proven violations of law. At this time, ICE has been instructed to detain anyone who is unlawfully present in this country.

Who is at risk? Anyone without lawful status in the U.S. can be detained. The most likely causes for ICE detention are:        • routine traffic violations and stops; • traffic roadblocks; • any criminal arrest; • pending criminal case information obtained from the courts (prior to conviction); • criminal conviction information obtained from courts and probation departments; • mere presence of undocumented bystanders in or around area.

Find full Executive Orders here and here.


  • December 9, 2016: DACA debate begins in the U.S. Senate with a bi-partisan effort introducing the BRIDGE Act, to protect DACA recipients. Concurrently, Senator Flake (R-AZ) proposes SAFE Act which includes some protection for DACA but intends to toughen immigration enforcement overall.

CrImmigration™ experts welcome the BRIDGE Act and reject the SAFE Act. STERN Law publishes a press release examining the chilling effect of a national dialogue on Immigration centered on the flawed perception of good vs. evil and the “Criminal Alien.” Find Spanish version here.


  • November 8, 2016:  Donald Trump is elected as the 45th President of the United States, after running on a campaign platform that focused largely on harsh deportation enforcement and a border wall to be paid for by Mexico.