This holiday season, I would like to reflect on the past year in the world of immigration law. It has been a tumultuous one, to say the least.
In late January, upon the inauguration of President Trump, there were a flurry of executive orders that aimed to restrict and isolate immigrants and further divide the United States, a country of immigrants. The most controversial and litigated Executive Order was the January 27, 2017 Travel Ban (aka Muslim Ban 1.0). After extensive litigation that overturned the first ban, the Trump administration came out with their second Travel Ban in March 2017 (aka Muslim Ban 2.0). After more litigation, Trump issued a third travel ban on September 24, 2017 (aka Muslim Ban 3.0).
This third version of the ban places permanent restrictions on travel for citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, and North Korea. It also blocks travel of certain Venezuelan government officials and their families. This travel ban has been in litigation since it was issued and was blocked by federal judges in two states. The case involving this ban is before the Supreme Court. On November 20 the government attorneys asked the Supreme Court to allow the full ban to take effect while the case is in litigation. On December 4, the Supreme Court allowed the travel ban to be implemented even while litigation remains pending. Until the Supreme Court rules on the merits of the case, the ban is in effect. There are multiple Courts of Appeals which have limited the extent to which the ban can be implemented, but these rulings have stayed pending the Supreme Court’s decision on the merits.
In most cases, citizens of the countries on the above list will be unable to emigrate to the United States permanently and many will be barred from working, studying or vacationing here. Iran, for example, will still be able to send its citizens on student exchanges, though such visitors will be subject to enhanced screening. Somalis will no longer be allowed to emigrate to the United States but may visit with extra screening.
Another prominent change in 2017 has been the announcement in September that the DACA program is ending. The Trump administration made this announcement on September 5 and gave people until October 5 to send in their renewal applications only. DACA will end for good on March 5, 2018, unless Congress acts before that date. Several prominent Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been working on a bipartisan solution called the Dream Act. Numerous Democrats, including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, stated that they would use their leverage regarding legislation for the federal budget in an effort to pass the Dream Act. However, facing a government shutdown, which would end the funding of CHIP and other important government programs, the Democrats caved and Congress passed a temporary resolution to fund the government. Although only temporary, the resolution stripped Democrats of some leverage they had, until the budget measure again comes up for a vote. That is expected to be early in 2018, but it is unknown whether anything will be done before the March 5, 2018 deadline set by the Trump administration.
Overall, it has been a very difficult year for the immigrant community. Many are left in limbo as it appears their cases are getting buried under a pile of bureaucratic red tape. Cases are taking longer and longer to be decided and getting a request for evidence has become commonplace, no matter how strong the case. The Joseph & Hall P.C. is working hard with our clients to fight back and to zealously represent their interests. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
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