Reuters Exclusive: US Gov’t orders Embassies to identify Certain Population Groups for Extreme Vetting including Mandatory Social Media checks

Reuters recently reported on an exclusive story regarding four diplomatic cables (links below) transmitted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the last two weeks that call for heightened screening and vetting of visa applicants, including asking applicants detailed questions about their backgrounds and making social media checks mandatory for those who have ever been present in territory controlled by the Islamic State.

 Read the Diplomatic Cables (Via Reuters)

1) CABLE 23338 – Guidance to Visa-Issuing Posts; March 10, 2017

2) CABLE 24324 – Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Visa Applications; March 15, 2017

3) CABLE 24800 – Halt Implementation; March 16, 2017

4) CABLE 25814 – Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Visa Applications; March 17, 2017

Delay in NSC Processing of H-4/EAD Applications Filed with Premium Processing H-1Bs

Via AILA.org

The Nebraska Service Center (NSC) has advised that, due to the high volume of incoming premium processing requests, H-4 I-539 and H-4 I-765 EAD applications that are concurrently filed with premium H-1B petitions before the April 3, 2017, premium processing suspension may not be adjudicated concurrently with the I-129 and within the prescribed 15 days. Due to the rapid influx of premium requests, I-129 adjudicators are focusing first on the I-129 so that it can be processed in accordance with the premium requirements. When a decision is made on the I-129, any H-4 and EAD applications are sent to another team, which should adjudicate them within a week or two. Once the surge is over NSC expects to resume fully working all applications submitted concurrently with the I-129.

NSC has advised that if no notice has been received on a riding I-539 or I-765 by the end of April, applicants or their attorneys can contact the National Customer Service Center to place a Service Request.

AILA: No Matter How Written, a Muslim and Refugee Ban Won’t Make U.S. Safe

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) denounced President Trump’s rewritten Executive Order, which is again based on the false premise that barring Muslims and refugees from coming to America will make the country safer. The ban was revised in an effort to get around the court orders that blocked the Administration from implementing the original order after it had wrought havoc throughout U.S. airports and around the world. Under the rewritten order:

  • The ban will be effective March 16, 2017.
  • Refugees are banned for a 120-day period, an effective chokehold that snuffs out the US refugee program.
  • The travel ban still impacts only individuals from predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), and still targets people based on their religion and nationality, though Iraq has been removed from the list of banned countries.
  • The ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and dual nationals when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country. Those holding select other visas and statuses will not be affected, and waivers may be granted to others on a case-by-case basis.

William A. Stock, President of AILA noted, “Despite the administration’s assurances, this ban on refugees and nationals of these predominantly Muslim countries will not make America safer. Once again President Trump is elevating a xenophobic campaign promise over true national security protections and implementing a policy that national security professionals think is unnecessary and counterproductive. Further, refugees, other than those already approved and in transit, will remain locked out of the United States for at least 120 days, despite being extremely vulnerable and the most stringently vetted group of immigrants. Blocking thoroughly vetted families from seeking help does not befit our nation’s proud and long history of humanitarian protection and welcoming those fleeing persecution.”

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director stated, “Exempting lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and dual nationals will hopefully mean that these irrational policies will hurt fewer people, but the fact remains that this is bad policy, motivated by unfounded fear. Just like the last ban, this executive order will disrupt the lives of foreign nationals that live, work, and contribute to the U.S. and the citizen family members, community members, and businesses that depend on them. Many have already curtailed travel for scholarly research, to visit family abroad, attend a wedding, or see someone graduate because they are afraid they won’t be allowed to return. This new ban will hurt American families and businesses, and does not advance the promise of a better future for our nation.”

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

New State-by-State Interactive Shows How Much Federal Funding Sanctuary Cities Could Lose at the Hands of President Trump’s Administration

The American Immigration Lawyers Association partnered with the Center for American Progress and the National Immigration Law Center on a new interactive resource which answers the question of “How Much Funding for Sanctuary Jurisdictions Could Be at Risk?” by calculating the amount of funding in sanctuary jurisdictions in 32 states that could be targeted by President Trump’s January 25 executive order.

Link to Article

View Interactive Map

 

Summary of Second Trump Executive Order on Visa Issuance/Screening and Refugees

Via AILA.org

On March 6, 2017, the President signed a new executive order with the same title as the old Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The new Order takes effect on March 16, 2017 and expressly revokes the January 27, 2017 Order.

The new Order prohibits entry into the U.S. by immigrants and visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries without requiring any individualized determination based on specific intelligence that the individuals are a security risk. The Order exempts certain categories of people, including lawful permanent residents and dual nationals traveling on a passport from a country that is not one of the six designated countries. The American Immigration Lawyers Association does not believe the new Order will withstand judicial scrutiny since the targeted countries are majority Muslim, and the Order fails to provide evidence that nationals of the six countries pose a threat to national security. Courts reviewing the first order also gave serious consideration to the discriminatory statements directed at Muslims made by the President and his surrogates.

In addition, the new Order suspends refugee resettlement to the United States for 120 days and drastically reduces the number of refugees that the US Refugee Assistance Program (USRAP) will resettle in fiscal year 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000. Syrian refugees are no longer indefinitely banned under the new order, though they are subject to the 120-day suspension of the refugee program. The new Order no longer gives preference to individuals facing religious persecution who practice minority religions in their country of nationality. Despite the minor changes made in the new Order, it will have devastating consequences for the USRAP. The new Order will not make us safer as a nation, and thousands of refugees who have been screened for resettlement will be trapped in dangerous conditions.

Read More…

Indian Engineer’s Death could leave Wife Without Legal Status

Mr. Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the victim of a hate crime in Kansas City, appears to have held an H-1B professional work visa. Unfortunately, with his death, his wife’s H-4 Dependent visa (which Ms. Dumala appears to hold) would normally be terminated by U.S. Immigration. We should urge USCIS and Congress to offer her and anyone else affected by such a tragic situation a “Survivor” H-4 visa option to continue to reside in the U.S. following the death of an H-1B family member, if they wish to.

“I don’t know if this is the right platform to talk about this. But, the government has to make sure that I can come back to this country at my will to pursue his dreams of me being successful…me being successful in any field that I choose. And I have to fulfil his dreams, right here where he started.” – Ms. Sunayana Dumala

Further, because Mr. Kuchibhotla in his professional capacity as a Garmin Engineer was doing his part to “Make America Great Again”, we ask the @realDonaldTrump to issue a strong condemnation of the racist and xenophobic motivations that led to this violence.

Practice Advisory on Changes to Expedited Removal due to President Trump’s Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the American Immigration Council, and ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project provide a practice advisory on how expedited removal has changed since President Trump issued the Executive Order on border security and immigration enforcement. This Practice Advisory addresses the coming expansion of expedited removal, who likely will be impacted, and possible ways to challenge an expedited removal order.

Download AILF’s Practice Advisory (PDF)

Attorney Sharma speaks to WJXT Channel 4 News regarding President Trump’s Travel Ban (Version 2.0)

Immigration Attorney Ashwin Sharma interviewed by WJXT News4Jax on President Trump’s new immigration executive order (Travel Ban Version 2.0) anticipated to be issued this week. The new order is expected be specifically tailored to address National Security issues and to overcome Constitutional challenges like those that affected the earlier executive order.

The new Executive Order will purportedly take effect 1-2 weeks after it is signed, and appears to continue to focus on the original seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya, but exempt green-card holders and dual citizens of the U.S. and any of those countries. The new order would apparently no longer specifically reject Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications. As well, DHS Sectretary Kelly indicates that if travellers are “in motion from some distant land”, at the time the Executive Order takes effect, they “will be allowed in”.

AFP Article: “Florida’s foreigners living in fear in the era of Trump”

Via AILA.org

This AFP article, which quotes several American Immigration Lawyers members, reports that undocumented individuals in Florida are living in a state of fear and confusion under the Trump administration. Those fears got even worse when Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez decided on January 26, 2017, to bow to a defunding threat from President Trump and removed Miami from the list of so-called “sanctuary cities.” According to the Migration Policy Institute, Florida is home to 650,000 immigrants who do not have legal residency status, and a study by the Pew Research Institute found that Miami had the fifth largest undocumented immigrant population in the United States, at 450,000 people.

Last week, ICE launched a Series of Targeted Enforcement Operations in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, and New York City areas, resulting in the arrests of more than 680 individuals.

DHS Secretary John Kelly stated yesterday that last week, ICE launched a series of targeted enforcement operations in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, and New York City areas, resulting in the arrests of more than 680 individuals. Secretary Kelly stated that the enforcement operations focused on individuals who posed a threat to public safety, had been charged with criminal offenses, and had committed immigration violations or had been deported and reentered the country illegally. He also asserted that the focus of the operations was consistent with the “routine, targeted arrests” carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations teams on a daily basis.

Statement From Secretary Kelly On Recent ICE Enforcement Actions Via DHS.gov

Via DHS.gov

Release Date:
February 13, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a series of targeted enforcement operations across the country. These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.

Read More…

US Dept of State Alert on Provisionally Revoked/Expired/Cancelled Visas

DOS alert that visas that were provisional revoked are now valid for travel to the U.S., if the holder is otherwise eligible. Individuals whose visas are expired, or were physically cancelled, must apply for a new visa, absent a CBP grant parole or waive the visa requirement at the port of entry.

Link to US Dept of State Announcement