Three Executive Orders were issued by President Trump last week – one related to the building of a wall along our border with Mexico, one related to enhanced immigration enforcement and one related to a travel ban for citizens of certain countries and limitations on refugees. These actions have been drastic in terms of their impact as well as vague in terms of how they will be applied. As a result of these actions, many in the immigrant community are confused and scared – I understand!
I am writing this to help you navigate these turbulent waters. Despite all that you read or hear in the news or from your friends and family, this is not a time to panic or to make hasty decisions. It is a time for calm, rational thinking and for informed, conservative and proactive planning. In that regard, I suggest the following:
- If you are a citizen of one of the “seven countries” listed on the Executive Order (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen), do not travel out of the U.S. The Executive Order does not apply to you if you merely visited one of the “seven countries”.
- If you are a citizen of any other country which has a predominantly Muslim population, do not travel out of the U.S. without consulting with an Immigration Attorney first.
- If you have a non-immigrant visa (even if you are a citizen of a country which is not predominantly Muslim) and you plan to travel out of the U.S. please consult with an Immigration Attorney first. In this climate of enhanced enforcement it is prudent to be able to document your status as much as possible in the event you are subject to additional scrutiny by an overly aggressive immigration officer upon your return.
- Consideration should be given to accelerating any immigration planning (eg; extensions of status, green card processing, etc.) in order to take advantage of the existing laws and regulations. It is possible that these may become more restrictive as the policies of the current administration continue to evolve.
It is my belief that more executive orders will be forthcoming - which are likely to add to the fear and uncertainty that you may be feeling. I sympathize with what you may be feeling right now - I come from a family of immigrants. It pains me that the country whose doors gave my family refuge in their time of need is now trying to close those same doors to others. I believe that these times too shall pass and that better times lie ahead. Until then I will do everything I can to ease your fears and help you through this difficult period.