1. Has President Trump’s executive order regarding a travel ban (for individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) gone into effect?
No law has changed. However, implementation of immigration law has changed, at least temporarily, for citizens of those six predominantly Muslim countries. Parts of President Trump’s second executive order will be partially implemented, for the time being, because of a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Until the Supreme Court issues its ultimate decision in this case, entry into the U.S. by refugees and individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen will be suspended for 90 days. There are a few exceptions:
- Refugees from any country who are determined to be exempt from the executive order or for whom the State Department grants a waiver
- Family members of refugees who have been approved to follow-to-join refugees or asylees
- Individuals from the six targeted countries who are exempt under the executive order
- Individuals from the six targeted countries traveling on a visa that is valid on or after June 29, 2017
- Individuals from the six targeted countries who were present in the United States on June 26, 2017, and have a valid multiple-entry visa and plan to travel abroad
- Refugees from any country who were formally scheduled for transit before 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, June 29, 2017
In addition, all family and most employment-based visa categories are exempt from the travel ban. Visa applicants in the nonexempt visa categories will need to be eligible for a waiver or demonstrate a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post for more details about bona fide relationships and eligibility for a waiver under the travel ban.
2. Is enforcement tightening? Are there more immigration raids in our community?
Yes. In January 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that greatly expanded the types of undocumented immigrants that would be priorities for deportation. These changes basically make anyone in the US without authorization a priority for removal. There have been reports of stronger enforcement, including sweeping up non-criminal undocumented immigrants during raids that originally targeted criminals. Learn how to interact with ICE. Understand your rights before ICE approaches you at home, at work, or in public.
3. Will applying for a benefit from USCIS put me at risk of being picked up by ICE?
In the past, this has not been the case. Recently, however, attorneys throughout the US have reported isolated instances of ICE detaining foreign nationals whose only violation of immigration laws is overstay. Obviously, ICE cannot detain every person who has overstayed, but be aware of this risk.
4. What will happen with the H-1B visa program under President Trump?
While no one can predict the future, President Trump has recently ordered a review of the H-1B visa program. In 2017, the H-1B visa program will distribute 85,000 visas by lottery to nearly 200,000 applicants. The President has vowed to revamp the lottery process to favor the highest-skilled and highest-paid workers. Outsourcing firms seem to be particularly at risk.
5. What will President Trump do with DACA?
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to deport anyone lacking authorization to be in the US. As President, though, he has softened his rhetoric somewhat. He recently stated that “Dreamers,” which are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), could “rest easy.” He added that his administration is focused on deporting foreign nationals who have a criminal record. To date, nothing in the DACA program has changed, and we hope that will remain the case. Keep in mind, though, that DACA recipients with a criminal record remain at risk of being detained and placed in removal proceedings.
6. I have a deportation order. Will I be detained when I report to ICE?
In the past, those with removal orders often avoided removal by applying for a stay of removal and demonstrating sympathetic humanitarian factors. These factors include illness or caring for small children or a sick adult. However, ICE has dramatically decreased the number of stays granted, regardless of any sympathetic circumstances. If a foreign national reports to ICE with a criminal record, they should expect to be detained. If the foreign national has a prior removal order but no criminal record, they can expect ICE to detain them or tell them to report later with proof of travel arrangements for leaving the US.
Do not rely on your past experiences with ICE. We highly recommend that you bring an immigration attorney with you to your ICE report. Knowing your exact situation, an attorney can effectively advocate on your behalf with ICE to receive the grant of any discretion available.
7. Will requesting a copy of my file put me at risk?
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the information you provide in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request may only be used to locate the information you request.
8. I have a future court date for a traffic ticket. Will ICE be there to pick me up?
Some counties in Georgia have partnered with ICE through its 287(g) program to help enforce federal immigration laws. A few of the Georgia counties participating in this program include Cobb, Gwinnett, Hall, and Whitfield counties. In these counties, a traffic stop could result in detention by local law enforcement, issuance of a “hold” by ICE, and a subsequent transfer to ICE. In addition, there have been reports of ICE officers arresting undocumented foreign nationals at criminal and municipal courts. Failing to appear for your court date, though, will not protect you. Doing so will most likely result in issuance of a warrant for your arrest, thus further increasing the risk of your detection by ICE.