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New Presidential Administration Issues Multiple Executive Orders Affecting Immigration

visa mapThe new president issued three executive orders (EOs) in January 2017 regarding immigration. The most recent of the three, EO 13769, is the most well-known. Descriptions range from a “travel ban” to a “Muslim ban,” depending on who is describing the order. The EO, which bars entry to the U.S. from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations, is currently subject to a temporary restraining order, and multiple court challenges are pending in courts around the country. New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport saw a considerable amount of confusion after the issuance of the EO, when federal agents attempted to enforce the order without clear guidelines. All we can offer is a very general overview of the EOs, since their impact—and even their legal validity—remains uncertain.

The first order, EO 13767, is entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.” 82 Fed. Reg. 8793 (Jan. 25, 2017). It directs immigration officials to increase patrols and deportations in response to an alleged “recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico.” Id. at 8793. It also makes “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” the official policy of the federal government. Id.

EO 13768 is entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” 82 Fed. Reg. 8799 (Jan. 25, 2017). It primarily sets enforcement priorities with regard to deportations. The order also addresses so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions,” which it defines as non-federal governments that “willfully refuse to comply with” a statute regarding communication between local and federal law enforcement. Id. at 8801, 8 U.S.C. § 1373. The federal government is probably limited, however, in its authority to require local governments to participate in immigration enforcement, an area of exclusively federal jurisdiction under the Constitution. See, e.g. Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997); South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987).

The now-infamous EO 13769 is entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” 82 Fed. Reg. 8977 (Jan. 27, 2017). It halts the issuance of visas to nationals of seven countries:  Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It also halts the admission of refugees from Syria. A major component of the controversy stemmed from the White House’s determination, which reportedly overruled the Department of Homeland Security’s own interpretation, that the EO barred entry by holders of both nonimmigrant visas and green cards from those seven countries. This resulted in lawful permanent residents being detained at American airports or being prevented from boarding airplanes abroad, as soon as the EO took effect.

Multiple lawsuits challenging various aspects of EO 13769 are pending across the country. Within one day, a federal judge in New York granted an emergency motion restraining the government from removing anyone with an approved refugee application or valid visa or green card. Darweesh et al. v. Trump et al., No. 17-cv-00480, order (E.D.N.Y., Jan. 28, 2017). A Washington judge issued a temporary restraining order halting enforcement of the EO nationwide. Washington et al. v. Trump et al., No. 2:17-cv-00141, temp. restr. Order (W.D. Wash., Feb. 3, 2017). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stay the order. The White House announced that it is preparing a new EO, placing that particular litigation on hold.

Immigration lawyer Samuel C. Berger represents immigrants living in Northern New Jersey and New York City, prospective immigrants who want to come to this area, and family members and employers petitioning on an immigrant’s behalf. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us today online, at (201) 587-1500, or at (212) 380-8117.

More Blog Posts:

New Jersey Cities Continue to Resist Federal Demands to Assist in Immigration Enforcement, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, November 24, 2016

New Law Mandates Changes to Visa Waiver System, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, March 10, 2016

Federal Judge Harshly Rebukes Government’s Treatment of Immigrant Children Held in Detention, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, September 10, 2015

Photo credit: Dennis Bratland (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.