This week has been crazy for immigration law. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard of the three executive orders signed by President Trump regarding immigration in the last week. Here's a quick breakdown of what they mean for immigrants.
On Friday, President Trump signed an order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” This order is what has been referred to as the "Muslim Ban" over the weekend. Here's what it did:
- Indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States
- Suspended all refugees from any country from entering the United States for 120 days
- Suspended all citizens, refugees or otherwise, from 7 predominately Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Sudan) from entering the United States for 90 days
- Trump has since loosened this to allow US permanent residents (green card holders) from these countries to enter
Last Wednesday, President Trump signed a different executive order, this one titled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States." This order addressed deportation of "criminal aliens". Here are the high points:
- Under President Obama, only those undocumented immigrants with significant criminal convictions, or those who had entered the United States within the last couple of years, were considered a priority for removal (deportation)
- Under this new Executive Order, any undocumented immigrant with any criminal conviction, pending criminal charges, or even anyone who has been suspected of committing criminal activity is considered a removal priority
Also on Wednesday, President Trump signed an order titled "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements." This order:
- Calls for the addition of 5,000 border patrol agents
- Calls for the construction of the "border wall"
- Calls for the end of the "catch and release" policy, which means that immigrants are released on their own recognizance after a brief detention at the border and informed of a court hearing at a later date. Trump's plan would detain all immigrants attempting to enter the country indefinitely.
I also wanted to get an additional perspective on this issue, so I solicited a guest blog post from an awesome Elon Law student! Pahola Burgos is a second year student at Elon University School of Law. She received her B.A. from UNC Greensboro, where she majored in English and Spanish. Pahola is a second generation immigrant and her experiences served to fuel her passion to help immigrants from all over the world. Before going to law school, she served in the AmeriCorps ACCES and worked as the volunteer coordinator for CWS: Immigration and Refugee Program. She would describe this as one of the most eye opening experiences as it gave her the opportunity to hear stories from refugees who had to flee their country in order to stay alive. Her time in the AmeriCorps showed her that giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding activities you can do. She currently serves on the Pro Bono Board and is the Vice-President of the Spanish and Latino Student Association at Elon. When not in school mode, she loves to travel and try new foods! Below is Pahola's statement on the recent change in immigration policy.
These are scary times. If you or a loved one has any immigration questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.