What is happening?

Many of you wonder what is happening with the U.S. immigration law and whether these changes affect me, Family member or a friend. What happened yesterday is that Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) banning refugees from seven Muslim dominated countries:  Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

What does it say?

  1. MUSLIM SYRIAN REFUGEES: The executive order directs the State Department to stop issuing visas to Muslim Syrian Refugees and stop processing Syrian Refugees’ applications. This ban will remain in place until Trump and his administration clarifies this order in further detail.
  2. REFUGEES: A four months suspension for America’s Refugee program.

Who is affected?

At this point, it is uncertain who will be affected. Although the EO mentioned seven countries, it is wise for any individual from the Middle East to assume that his country is included even though his/her is not named in the EO.  Further, the EO is not really clear what and whom it affects. For instance, we are not sure if the EO even affects Green card Holders from these seven countries!

Is it legal?

The president can issue Executive Orders. However, this executive order will definitely be challenged in courts because it is based on race and religion. The EO will be held unconstitutional.  In addition to the U.S. court addressing this issue, the EO is clearly inconsistent with international law.

What should I do?

If you are from the Middle East’ even if you have a visa and your country is not one of the seven countries listed in the EO, we highly recommend, at this time that you do not travel to the U.S.  If you are Middle Eastern, a Green card holder (LPR) and in the U.S., it will be wise to not leave the U.S.

Does It Affect a Green Card Holder?

If you are a Middle Eastern and a Green card holder, make your way back to the U.S.  for as long as you did not violate any laws, request that the officer at the airport allow you to enter the U.S.  If the officer takes you to the second inspection, insist on seeing an immigration Judge; do not sign any form at the airport no matter how nice the officer is.

BE WISE. USE COMMON SENSE.

Travel Warning?

The EO is ambiguous even the Customs and Border Patrol, CBP, Officers do not know what it means.  Today, CBP will more likely take the extreme position of keeping most visitors out,  even Green Card holders in some cases.  To be on the safe side, do not travel outside of the U.S., even if you have a Green card.  Do not attempt to come to the U.S. even if you have a valid student visa, visitor visa or any other type of visa.

My right as a Visitor/Student/immigrant

You do not have a right before you enter the U.S.  the issuance of the visa is discretionary and can be cancelled any time without any reason.  So if you received a call that your visa is cancelled, there is really nothing you can do for said cancellation. You may apply for a new visa at a later date.  Also, if you are a student who is registered in school and you left the country to spend holidays with your family and while overseas you visa is cancelled, the fact that you paid the tuition for the upcoming semester does not mean anything for said cancellation. You will need to apply again as if you never had a visa before.

My right as a U.S. Citizen

If you are a Middle Eastern and you are a U.S. Citizen demand that the officer allow in. At the first inspection, at the counter, answer the officer’s questions.  At the second inspection, you have the right to refuse to answer any questions about your religion or political beliefs or any other person. You have the right to refuse to unlock your phone and or share information.

What is Next?

The fight is on.  Many organizations, civil rights and refugee advocates, around the country are preparing, and some of them have, to file a lawsuit early next week to challenge the constitutionality of the EO.  Until the court make a decision to the contrary, the EO is the law of the land today.