Immigration

4/16

The Trump administration “renewed its commitment to criminal immigration enforcement,” when Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in Nogales, Arizona on April 11, 2017.  He also issued a memo that mandates our federal prosecutors to prioritize prosecutions of immigration-related cases. New priorities include:

  • Those bringing in and harboring illegal immigrants (including family members);
  • Illegal immigrants re-entering after prior deportation;
  • Illegal immigrants who have used false identities or misused visas;
  • Those who assault, resist, or impede federal officers.

President Trump is asking Congress for $3 billion in emergency funds for his border security and interior enforcement Executive Orders issued January 25, 2017, in order to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, massively increase the number of ICE enforcement and removal officers and CBP border patrol agents, and escalate the detention of immigrants.

You can take action now by urging your members of Congress not to fund President Trump’s Executive Orders on immigration that are both un-American and a waste of taxpayer money.

The Washington Post reported on April 12 that it had obtained an internal DHS assessment that appears to be a draft copy of the 90-day progress report mandated by President Trump’s border and immigration enforcement Executive Order. The assessment shows that DHS has already found 33,000 more detention beds to house undocumented immigrants, opened discussions with dozens of local police forces that could be empowered with enforcement authority, and identified where construction of Trump’s border wall could begin. DHS is also considering ways to speed up the hiring of hundreds of new CBP officers, including ending polygraph and physical fitness tests in some cases. Gillian Christensen, DHS’s acting spokesperson, said the agency would not comment on what she called “pre-decisional documents.”

3/16

A nationwide temporary restraining order was granted on March 15, 2017, temporarily stopping the government from enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and 6 of Executive Order 13780, which was set to go into effect on March 16. (Hawaii v. Trump, 3/15/17).  U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson concluded that the ban was unconstitutional, a view based largely on President Trump’s own discriminatory comments about Muslims.  Thus, for now, the travel ban of people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen and the ban of all refugees for 120 days will not go into effect.  The other sections of the Executive Order, including the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program, have not been halted by the TRO.

REVISED TRAVEL AND REFUGEE BAN EXECUTIVE ORDER ISSUED

On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued the Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The previous Executive Order of the same name, numbered 13769, issued January 27, 2017, will be revoked on March 16, 2017, when the new one takes effect.  In addition to the Executive Order, the White House issued a memorandum to the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security on the implementation of the Order, and DHS released a “Fact Sheet” and “Q&A.”

The Executive Order has been revised in ways that respond to legal challenges to the original version.  You can see how the old version was edited in a line-by-line comparison.  It specifically references the pending litigation and notes that its predecessor “was not motivated by animus toward any religion.” Like its predecessor, the new Executive Order bans immigrant and nonimmigrant entries for nationals of certain designated countries – Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – for a new period of at least 90 days.  This time, Iraq is not included.  Also, it expressly exempts lawful permanent residents, as well as anyone who already held a valid visa when the prior Order was issued. 

Where the prior version did not actually name the banned countries, the new Executive Order contains lengthy justification about why each of the banned countries was included, and why Iraqis are no longer banned

The new Order adds a section on the Scope and Implementation of Suspension that explicitly defines who is affected and who is exempted.  The following categories, among others, are exempted:    

 •           All lawful permanent residents (i.e., “green card” holders);

•           Those carrying valid Advance Parole documents;

•           Dual nationals traveling with the passport of a non-banned country;

•           Diplomats;

•           Foreign nationals already granted asylum or refugee status.

 There are also several new broad waiver categories.  For example, someone with “significant business or professional obligations” that would be impaired by the ban can seek a waiver; as can someone seeking to reunite with a “close family member” in the U.S.; landed Canadian immigrants; and U.S. government-sponsored exchange visitors (J-1 status).

 The Order suspends the refugee program for a new 120 day period that begins March 16, 2017.  Like its predecessor, it reduces the number of refugees that the U.S. will resettle in fiscal year 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000.  Unlike the earlier version, the new Executive Order does not permanently ban Syrian refugees, and it no longer gives preference to refugees facing religious persecution who practice minority religions in their country. 

 The new Order largely leaves intact other components of the prior version.  It suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP), which had been widely implemented at high-volume consular posts around the world in recent years to allow consular officers to waive in-person interviews to renew nonimmigrant visas within 12 months of expiration of the initial visa in the same classification. Thus, it is very likely that wait time for nonimmigrant visa appointments will increase, particularly at high-volume posts in India and China.

 Like the earlier version, the new Order directs the agencies to implement a program to identify individuals who seek to enter the U.S. on a fraudulent basis, who support terrorism, violent extremism, acts of violence toward any group of people within the U.S., or who present a risk of causing harm subsequent to their entry. 

 The new Order also directs agencies to expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit system, which was mandated by Congress in 1996. While DHS implemented biometric entry in 2006 at all air, land, and sea ports, a comprehensive biometric exit system is not yet in place.

 PRESIDENTIAL MEMO ON “ENHANCED VETTING PROCEDURES”

On March 6, the White House issued a Memorandum to instruct the federal agencies, “Implementing Immediate Heightened Scrutiny and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits, Ensuring Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States, and Increasing Transparency among Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and for the American People.”  The EO and memo are expected to harm the United States’ robust travel and tourism industries.

The memo calls for heightened screening of applications for immigration benefits, rigorous enforcement of all inadmissibility grounds, and monitoring compliance of related laws after admission.  There is already a robust system for vetting visa applicants (at U.S. Consulates and Embassies) and applicants for admission (at the ports of entry, i.e. borders and airports). The memo directs executive branch agencies to “rigorously enforce” all existing grounds of inadmissibility (before the visa is issued) and monitor compliance with related laws after a person has been admitted into the U.S., without making exceptions for minor, technical violations.  The memo has been analyzed by AILA, which should be credited for the following analysis. 

Sec. 1: Policy

 ·           It confirms that the policy of the United States to keep its citizens safe from terrorist attacks, and that it what compelled the travel ban executive order.

·           It notes that the EO directs DHS, DOS, and DNI to conduct a review of the information that is needed from each country in order for the U.S. to review applications for immigration benefits.

Sec. 2: Enhanced Vetting Protocols and Procedures for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits. 

·           Directs DOS and DHS, in consultation with DOJ, to quickly implement procedures to “enhance the screening and vetting of applications for visas and all other immigration benefits.” Specifically directs the procedures to focus on:

o  Preventing foreign nationals who may “aid, support, or commit violent, criminal, or terrorist acts” from entering the U.S.; and

o  Ensuring collection of information needed to “rigorously evaluate” all inadmissibility and deportability grounds, or “grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits.”

Sec. 3: Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States.

·           Directs DOS, DHS, and DOJ to “rigorously enforce” all existing grounds of inadmissibility and to ensure subsequent compliance with related laws after admission.

o  Orders the agencies to issue new rules, regulations, or guidance to enforce those grounds and related laws. Specifies that any new rules will supersede all previous rules if they conflict.

Sec. 4: Transparency and Data Collection

·           Directs DOS and DHS to issue “regular reports” on the adjudication of immigration benefits, including but not limited to:

o  Every month, starting in April, DOS should publish the number of visas issued by each consular office during the preceding month, by visa category and country of issuance. (DOS already produces an annual report providing statistical information on all immigrant (“green card”) and non-immigrant (temporary) visas issued by U.S. consular posts).

o  Every 90 days, starting in June, DHS should publish reports on the number of “adjustments of immigration status” by the type of adjustment, class of admission, country of nationality.

o  DOS will submit a report to the president by September detailing the long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admission Program (USRAP), including federal, state, and local costs, with recommendations on how to reduce costs.

o DOS, with OMB, will produce a report September estimating how many refugees are being supported in “countries of first asylum (near their home countries) for the same long-term cost as supporting refugees in the U.S.”

3/11

On Monday, Trump issued a new ban on immigration.  Previously, his ban kept people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days.  The ban took effect immediately causing disruption to many people en route to the United States and people had Visas  from entering as well.  The ban also kept refugees from entering the country for 120 days and all Syrian refugees were no longer allowed to enter the country at all.

Now, the new ban will not be in effect until March 16.  Iraq will no longer be on the list.  Current visa holders will be allowed in the country.  Syrians will still not be allowed into the country but for now they are going to be banned temporarily.  Refugees that were already granted asylum will be allowed into the country.  For more details see

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/06/us/politics/trump-travel-ban-groups.html

Below is Senator Isakson’s response to the immigration executive order:

“As a second-generation American whose grandfather emigrated from Sweden in 1903, I value the legal immigration system of our country, and I want to make sure that this opportunity remains in place. But I want to also be sure we don’t ever have a situation like September 11, 2001, when some very bad people entered our country through less-than-reliable vetting.

“We all want to make sure that the process by which new individuals enter our country is thorough enough to restrict access to someone who might seek to harm our way of life. I appreciate President Trump’s willingness to start over after the initial rollout of this policy resulted in confusion and legal challenges.

“As the administration moves forward with implementation of this revised executive order, it is my hope that President Trump will continue to consult with the national security team he has assembled so that security measures are properly applied and do not infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”

https://www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/3/isakson-statement-on-revised-immigration-executive-order

DHS Secretary John Kelly released two memos on February 20, 2017 that outline the government’s aggressive plan to implement President Trump’s January 25, 2017, Executive Orders (EOs) on interior and border enforcement. DHS provided fact sheets delineating specific actions that the department will take pursuant to those EOs.

The interior and border enforcement Executive Orders have been blasted by AILA and civil rights groups.  AILA highlighted some of the most problematic components of Trump’s plan:

  • Elimination of any meaningful enforcement priorities could mean “open season” on all unauthorized individuals, including mixed-status families and immigrants who have lived here peacefully for years.
  • Expansion of expedited removal, likely to the entire country and to anyone who has not been in the country at least 2 years. Previously, only those apprehended within 100 miles of a land or water border and who had been in the U.S. less than 2 weeks were subject to expedited removal.  Using expedited removal, CBP and ICE can unilaterally deport people without them ever having the opportunity for a judge to review their case or to seek legal counsel. 
  • Resurrection of the Secure Communitiesprogram, which was discontinued because of its constitutionally suspect use of “detainer” holds, and which communities have resisted because it leads to unconstitutional detention without probable cause and exposes localities to legal liability and high costs.
  • Aggressive recruitment of state and local law enforcement to enter into 287(g)agreements, which undermine trust of law enforcement and have led to racial profiling and other abusive practices against immigrant communities.
  • Massive expansion of detention by requiring DHS to detain nearly everyone it apprehends, including those with no criminal convictions, potentially more than 200,000 people per day.
  • Denial of vital protections for children by restricting the interpretation of “unaccompanied alien child.”

ACTION ITEMS

  • Contact your Congressional representatives to oppose increased federal spending on building the wall, detention of immigrants, and expanding the DHS bureaucracy.
  • Oppose your town or county’s participation in Secure Communities or entry into 287(g) agreements to collaborate with the federal government in the deportation machine.
  • Know your rightswhen ICE shows up at your door.
  • Support worthy organizationsthat defend the rights of immigrants, such as the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the American Immigration Council.

 

TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER TRIGGERS ICE RAIDS WITH MORE CRACK-DOWN TO COME

Immigration raids are being reported by immigration attorneys in Atlanta and Savannah since February 9, 2017, including multiple raids of apartment complexes in the Buford Highway area.  Anyone wither personal knowledge of a raid is invited to report what you know to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  Increasing levels of deportation is one of the purposes of President Trump’s Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

According to the analysis of the American Immigration Council, President Trump’s Order to massively expand interior enforcement defines enforcement priorities extremely broadly, placing all unauthorized individuals at risk of deportation, including those previously granted partial protection from deportation such as Dreamers who have benefited from DACA.

The order compels states and localities to enforce federal immigration laws without establishing clear protections against abusive and discriminatory practices by local law enforcement. Finally, the order revives the constitutionally-suspect Secure Communities program (which the Department of Homeland Security had terminated in 2012), orders DHS to consider stripping federal funding from so-called Sanctuary Cities, and encourages additional criminal prosecutions of immigrants for illegal entry.

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TRAVEL AND REFUGEE BAN UPDATE

On February 9, 2017, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to enjoin the federal government from enforcing key portions of President Trump’s Janauary 27, 2017 Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The Ninth Circuit’s decision means that, for the time being, key provisions of the Executive Order will not be enforced, and the U.S. will continue to admit approved refugees, as well as travelers with valid U.S. visas from the seven impacted nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen).

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EXECUTIVE ORDER ON THE BORDER WALL

On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed two immigration-related Executive Orders.  One of them, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” includes his plans to build a costly wall at the Mexican border.  According to analysis by the American Immigration Council, “By curtailing due process at the border and increasing detention along the southern border, the order will result in asylum seekers, families, children, and others being turned away and denied access to humanitarian protection guaranteed for decades under U.S. law.  These vulnerable people will almost certainly be sent back to dangerous, possibly life-threatening circumstances, without the opportunity to seek legal protection consistent with due process.

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RAISE ACT – WRITTEN BY (OUR VERY OWN) DAVID PERDUE

Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act):

A Bill to Restore Historical Legal Immigration Levels & Give Working Americans a Fair Shot at Wealth Creation, Written by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA)

Purpose of legislation: They claim that an influx of low-skilled or no-skilled immigrant labor into the U.S. has lowered wages for all Americans.  By reducing immigration by 50%, as well as giving preference to employment-based visas and immediate family members only, workers’ wages will rise. It would give priority only to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery, which permits 50,000 new immigrants per year, will limit refugee immigration to 50,000 people per year.

We Disagree! Top three reasons here, more after sources.

  1. Attempts at illegalimmigration will increase because of the huge number of immigrants (4.3. million) who are already seeking to gain family-sponsored visas to live here. Simply put, families may try more illegal means as a way to reunite.
  1. 65 million refugees sought asylum in 2015 alone. 21 million of those were Syrians escaping a brutal civil war.  Given our longstanding culture of welcoming those fleeing persecution, penury, and war, how can we turn so many refugees away?  It’s un-American and inhumane.
  1. Many immigrants work in Georgia’s largest industries, pay taxes, and contribute to a healthy economy.  Refugees are highly motivated to succeed and often become self-sufficient six months after having arrived in the U.S.  These are good, contributing citizens.

Action: Call David Perdue and tell him you oppose this bill and disagree with its premises.

http://static.politico.com/ad/1b/a981934c4278bfef730dc51b341b/raise-act-bill-text.pdf

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/immigration-trump-senate-cotton-234706

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