Confusion abounds around the president’s Executive Order, the lawsuits that have followed and the decisions from the courts. You may be wondering how this all affects many of our neighbors from parts of Africa, the middle east and other places. Here’s what you need to know.
The Executive Order halted all refugee immigration and any/all immigration from seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This meant that anyone who wanted to apply for a visa, and even those who had visas and were ready to travel to the US were not allowed to do so. Unfortunately, the Executive Order was placed into effect late Friday evening, January 27, leaving customs and border patrol, airlines and others working with immigrants with little instruction as to how the Order was to be enforced and whether those immigrants who were already in transit to the US would be admitted. Additionally, nationals of the seven countries who held non-immigrant visas like student or work visas, who happened to be traveling at the time of the Executive Order, were delayed or detained outside the US. There was even confusion as to whether lawful permanent residents (green card holders) from the affected countries would be admitted to the US if they had been outside the country on January 27.
Immediately, attorneys in many states began arriving at airports to assist those immigrants who were not being admitted or who were being detained. In the meantime, the State of Washington, later joined by the State of Minnesota, filed a lawsuit asking that portions of the Order blocking admittance of foreign nationals of the seven countries and all refugees be stayed, or not enforced, until more information could be complied about the effect of the Order. The suit was filed in Washington Federal Court. Judge James Robart entered a temporary injunction which disallowed the restrictions on these immigrants from being enforced. The Government filed for an emergency stay of the injunction with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which was denied on an emergent basis. Briefs were submitted and oral argument took place, resulting in an Order that Judge Robart’s temporary injunction would remain in place. It is likely that the matter will be heard by the US Supreme Court soon.
Because these orders and lawsuits have taken place in just the last two weeks, it is clear that things are changing at lightening pace. To those who are national of the seven countries and not US Citizens or green card holders, we recommend that you carefully consider these issues prior to traveling outside the US, even to such places as Canada, Mexico or an offshore winter cruise. Also, consider scheduling a consultation with Carole A. Pasternak at Klampe Law Firm to get the information you need about your specific situation.