What The Trump Executive Orders and Kelly Memos Mean to Immigrants

Trump issued two executive orders targeting immigrants in January 2017. The first one banned entrants from 7 "Muslim" countries Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and Sudan. These countries were targeted because their governments are "weak" and unable to retaliate, and they are not US allies, not because of terrorist acts. The ban stated that no visas could be issued to anyone from the 7 countries and no one could be admitted to the US, including lawful permanent residents (later Secretary Kelly stated it no longer included residents). USCIS was also instructed to approve no immigration benefits in the US for citizens of these countries. The order states this is for of 90 days, but states any country that doesn't cooperate in reporting suspected terrorist can be added to the list, so presumably many of these countries will remain on the list for "non cooperation." Due to a lawsuit currently pending in Washington State, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed this order, and it is not currently in effect. The order also suspended admission of all Syrian refugees with no end date and suspended admission of all refugees for 120 days.

The second order states that the US will build a wall between the US and Mexico (cost estimated at $21 billion for 1250 miles of fencing), hire 5,000 CBP agents, try to find ways to limit aid to Mexico, purportedly to pay for the wall, limit paroles into the United States including paroles for asylum seekers and immediate family members of military members, and revive the failed 287(g) program - which deputize local law enforcement to detain immigrants to do not have status for ICE to come pick them up and initiate removal (deportation) proceedings. The Kelly memo states this program will be extended to "any willing jurisdiction."

The Kelly memos go beyond the executive orders. They call for the following people to be a priority for deportation:

Anyone charged with a crime and the charges are unresolved (guilty until proven innocent)

nyone convicted of a crime

Anyone who has committed a crime but not been charge (this is extremely overboard and could essentially mean anything)

Anyone who has Committed Fraud

Anyone who has Received Public benefits (this is very broad; immigrants can't get many public benefits anyway except emergency medicaid and a few others)

Anyone with a Deportation order (keep in mind sometimes people get ordered deported in their absence if they move and do not receive the hearing notice i.e. were not advised / did not know to update their address)

Are a Risk to public safety (sounds important. what does this mean?)

Deportations will be fast tracked. 10,000 additional ICE agents and 5,000 CBP agents will be hired (currently CBP is not able to fill all the existing vacancies for officers). Prosecutorial discretion will be decreased or eliminated (this means ICE has no power to look at individual circumstances to allow for anyone to be exempted from deportation for compelling circumstances). Privacy protections for personal data of non citizens will be rolled back or eliminated (it's not clear how yet). 

* The American Immigration Lawyers' Association notes that to detain everyone in a deportation process would cause the detention of immigrations to be quadrupled to 200,000 (currently at 40,000-50,000 which is beyond current funding allocations). 

The memo calls for an expansion of expedited removal. Expedited removal is deportation without a hearing. It means being deported without ever getting to see a judge. A CBP officer, who is a cowboy with little accountability and much discretion, is the judge. Currently those apprehended within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entry to the US can be expeditiously removed and it's use has been used far more expansively in the last couple years than ever before. This memo calls for the expansion of expedited removal nationwide to anyone who entered the US within the last 2 years. We therefore advise our clients to carry proof WITH THEM that they have been present in the US for over 2 years - like bills, bank statements, taxes, W2's etc.

The memo calls to return illegal entrants to Mexico or Canada, whether they are citizens of Mexico or Canada or not, detain them in Mexico or Canada, and hold televideo or telephone hearing for these individuals. * Note, Mexico has already refused to cooperate with this initiative. 

The memo calls for increased standard for Credible Fear Interviews - additional materials to asylum officers have jus been released talking about changing the standard for passing these interviews from "significant possibility" to "reasonable doubt" (these interview do not give someone asylum, they just give them the right to apply instead of being subjected to expedited removal. Increasing the standard s problematic because most of the time these people are detained, treated very poorly, and have little opportunity to understand the significance of the process or get any advice about what to say). 

Paroles will be greatly limited and will no longer have "predesignated categories." We thought this was huge for military families, but despite the language in the memo they appear to be walking it back and saying it doesn't apply. Military spouses, children, and parents currently can get "parole in place" meaning if they did not enter the US with a visa, they can apply for a parole from within the US so that they will then be eligible for adjustment of status (green card) through sponsorship (usually by the solider). At first, it appeared this program would be eliminated, causing hardship and separation on military families, but now they are contradicting and stating this is not the case. 

Unaccompanied minors will get no protections if their parents are in the US. The accusatory language here for parents who bring their children in does not take into account that many of these children are fleeing Central America due to the extreme gang violence and conditions there. 

The impact of these orders will be huge. It already is. Families will be split up. People will be put in harm's way. Abuses will happen. Racial profiling will happen. Constitutional violations will happen. People will be deported indiscriminately regardless of their family ties, good record in this country, long term residence here, etc. Every law on the books will be enforced in the broadest way possible with little room for discretion. 


What it’s like to be an immigration lawyer & guardian of the airport in the Trump era (originally published 2/1/17 on LinkedIn)

The past few days have been a whirlwind. I never thought of lawyer as a profession that would be “on call” like surgeons, but the last few days, we have become guardians of the galaxy, the Trump Galaxy, that is. I have been practicing immigration law for 14 years. It’s my job, it’s who I am. We stand up for the underdog. We explain very complicated things to people even when there are language barriers. Sometimes we and our clients get abused in court. Sometimes we and our clients get roughhoused to the extreme. Sometimes it tears my heart apart. The wins and the kindness have always had to carry my soul through the rough patches, as well as the unwavering help and support from my colleagues. Immigration lawyers are all warriors. They are the best people I know. Very few of them do it for the money. We fly under the radar. We help the forgotten souls, the strangers in our land. We do it because it’s the right thing to do, because we were once strangers too, because we have struggled for better lives too, and because we love these clients of ours, and they love us too.

I knew about the executive order since Tuesday afternoon when my email box exploded. I did not really understand the magnitude of what would happen once it was signed. Saturday afternoon when I dropped my 4 year old off with her dad and drove down the Atlanta airport with tears in my eyes after hearing that legal permanent residents were being detained, I thought I would be doing what I always did, lawyering. I planned to represent these people. I planned to ask for asylum. I planned to stand between them and deportation. What actually happened was far different. I saw the best women I know waving at me as I came down the escalator. Each one a warrior, but each one with a larger heart than the next. Most with small children at home giving up their entire Saturday to stand with immigrants, because like me, it’s not just their job, it’s who they are.

I was not at the center of what went on, I would not have even known what to do. I did not plan to talk to reporters that day, I even had no idea what to say to them until I realized the reporters were just people too, and they cared about what was happening like we did. I did not plan to be on the telephone with a US Congressman convincing him to come help us and explaining that legal permanent residents can never be deported without a hearing, and I did not imagine he would ever say, “yes, this is a humanitarian issue. I’m on my way.” I did not expect to have a lively discussion about democracy with a US citizen from Iran waiting for his family to be released for six hours who has been in this country since I was 2 years old, who would later contact me and become my friend. I did not expect to speak one on one with Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson like they were kindred souls, their regal presence and loving and articulate words filling every crack and crevice of the sad waiting room of Customs and Border Protection. I was not prepared for the outpouring of love and appreciation from this wonderful group of people that sat together in that room or from my friends and family, just for doing my job and what I have always done, defending immigrants.

Friends’ attention and pride is actually a strange and yet intoxicating feeling because I’ve always been here. It is you, society, who has opened your hearts up to immigrants. It took extreme hatred to make you see how wonderful they are, and I am so grateful that we are now united. And I do understand and want all of you to understand, it’s not about me. I am not the hero, they are. Love your brothers and sisters from everywhere, especially Muslims and especially from the 7 banned countries, for they are the ones who are oppressed and suffering and afraid. Hug them, do random acts of kindness for them, donate money to their causes, volunteer for the organizations. Fill the world with so much love that bigotry will be completely squeezed out of it and will have no place left to exist. I’ll be here doing what I have always done. This is my calling, and I will do it until the end of time, whether anyone notices or not. I think with the horror of what’s going on, it’s human nature to want to find love. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving my clients. Thank you for loving each other. Keep marching, keep loving, keep your hearts open.

To my clients, I wish I could tell you not to be afraid. I wish I could tell you it will be ok, but that would be disingenuous. What I can promise you is that I will fight for you to the end of the earth and back, I will be your emergency on call lawyer, your surgeon, and I will file lawsuits. We all will. We will build and army. But you need to know that it’s not just me and you anymore, we have an entire society mobilized and ready to help. The American people will speak up for you. They get it. Their love for you is growing and growing every day. This trial that we must go through for some reason unknown to me, it will make our country (which is your country too) better, stronger, more expansive and tolerant in the end. Keep your head down, the mother of all storms is coming down on us and it will get worse before it gets better, but we will face it together, not just me and you, but our country which is your country. #resist #orangemenace