Traveling outside the US? What you need to know about Trump’s executive order

As most of you know, this weekend President Trump signed an executive order called “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”  This order has wide-ranging implications for foreign refugees, particularly from seven main countries. There is confusion and a lot of panic out there about what this order means. On Monday, January 30, 2017,  I appeared on Bloomberg Radio – broadcast worldwide on Sirius XM Radio – to help alleviate some of the confusion.

Who is affected by Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration ?

Currently anyone from these seven countries:

  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • Libya
  • Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Syria
  • Yemen

What if I have a Green Card (lawful permanent resident)?

At this time we  are advising our clients to stay put.

The executive order has very broad legal language and DOES NOT exempt lawful permanent residents. It says they may be questioned. When a green card holder travels on a short vacation to see family or takes a business trip, he is not normally subject to investigative questioning on return.

Remember that these are people who have already been vetted. Most of them have lived here for many years. They are our neighbors. These are people we know not to be security risks. However, due to the ambiguity of the Executive Order, we are advising our permanent resident clients who are citizens of the seven countries NOT to travel right now until there is some clarity.

What about coming home from out of country?

Again this is a fluid issue, things are changing rapidly, and we cannot guarantee an outcome even if you have held a green card for many years.

We are in a very historical moment where on the weekend we had not one, not two, but FOUR federal injunctions issued that temporarily stayed expedited deportation orders at the airports.

While some of what this new administration is trying to implement under its executive orders is founded under an act signed by then President Clinton more than 20 years ago, one section is really like expedited removal on steroids. For the last 20 years we have had expedited removal. That said, what the Trump administration is trying to do is expand the authority of officers at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to expedite removal.

So, don’t travel at this point.

Will this be stopped in court?

Over the weekend there were several legal actions. I applaud the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project that argued the New York case on Saturday. This was the same entity that wrote a brief that I personally drove to for a midnight deadline from Manhattan to Philadelphia when President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno violated immigrant rights. To a large extent, what we are seeing here is just a continuation of a series of chapters in recent American history in which every US President has had challenges with immigration.

My educated guess is that we are in for a long haul

We live in the greatest country in the world because we have the freedom to challenge these types of orders. In the aftermath of Trump’s executive order on foreign nationals that was hastily prepared, there was a lot of confusion at the airports. Some people say that members of CBP are refusing to comply.

I am not even sure that CBP is certain what they are supposed to do, because there are so many different things happening right now. Federal courts issued orders which should be followed. The Homeland Security Secretary and White House Chief of Staff came out Sunday and said they will not go after green card holders, but nobody knows for sure. Anything could change at a moment’s notice.

If you are abroad and trying to come home, or if you are thinking of any travel, get legal help.

Remember, we have been through many legal challenges before. We have fought many times to help many great immigrants who eventually became citizens of our country. I have faith in the law and our country that we will get through this.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

Do you have a question about Immigration in General?

Call us anytime at 973.642.1111 or email us using the form below.