Trump Executive Orders on refugees, border wall, undocumented immigrants

This is a blog post and nothing in it should be considered legal advice.  Please contact us or your lawyer for legal advice specific to your case.

immigration rallyPresident Trump has issued three executive orders targeting immigrants in the past week – relating to the border wall, refugees, and undocumented immigrants – and three more leaked drafts imply that more is on the way.  The situation is changing constantly.  We may update our website with blog posts, but we will be updating our Facebook page more frequently.  Please check in with that for more timely updates.

Currently, DACA remains unchanged, but refugees and undocumented immigrants are being targeted.

To briefly summarize, two of the executive orders target refugees and visa holders coming from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, and undocumented immigrants in the US.  Any refugee or person with a visa from those countries will be banned.  Undocumented immigrants who were not a priority for deportation may now be a priority.  Undocumented people who have been here for fewer than two years might not get the opportunity to have a case heard by an immigration judge.  Any person convicted of any crime or charged with any crime is now a priority for deportation, along with any person with a final order of removal (under Obama, people with old orders – any order prior to 2014 – were not priorities.  Now, even someone with a 20 year old order is a priority).  There are many more details, including how Trump plans to make this happen, but those are the most important points for people who might be impacted.

A third executive order deals with border security, ordering the building of a wall that has been estimated to cost $20billion and will be paid for by US taxpayers.  It also calls for more draconian treatment of people at the border – including more detention of individuals and building more prisons, and allows for paying private prison companies to be contracted to do the work – a windfall for the prison industrial complex.

It is unclear how all of this will be implemented – there are reports of some ICE officers and attorneys who are not doing anything until they get clear guidance on how they are supposed to implement these new rules, and there are also reports of some ICE officers and attorneys who have decided to take this as an opportunity to enact new rules based on their own interpretation of the executive order.  There was an unconfirmed report that ICE officers have been stopping and interrogating people at random.  It seems that that report was not entirely accurate (they did pull over two cars in Kansas, but ICE says it was for specific people that ICE already were searching for), which also underscores the need to remain calm in this troubling time.

Talk with your lawyer if you are undocumented and have any criminal conviction or charge, or if you have a final order of removal.  If you are a permanent resident, you should carry proof of that with you at all times.  If you are undocumented, you need to know your rights.  You can find a guide in multiple languages from the ACLU.

The most important thing to know is that you have the right to remain silent.  If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud.  In some states you are required to give your name.  If the officer asks what country you are from, you do not have to answer.  In the past, most people who were caught by ICE voluntarily gave their passport and admitted to being from another country.  Without that information, ICE may not have been able to do anything.

Finally, be on the lookout for scammers!  According to Media Matters, some internet trolls have started scamming people into giving up their personal information about their immigration status and then are passing that information along to law enforcement.  Don’t give out ANY information about your immigration status to anyone but your lawyer.

Stay safe.


Residency and Citizenship benefit more than just the person receiving it

I wanted to post a quick thought while we’re all busy for the holidays.

I have now been at Milagros Immigration Law for about four and a half years. In that time, the thing that I have noticed, the thing that makes me the most proud, the thing that absolutely amazes and impresses me, is to see what happens when someone gets residency in the United States. It is amazing and beautiful and something that truly makes me proud to be an immigration attorney, and proud to be an American.

People become residents in many ways – whether it’s through asylum, cancellation of removal, a family petition, or through employment, it’s always almost universally the same. With all of the negative things people have said about immigrants over the past year, I have to say my experience could not be more different. I cannot think of a single person who I helped become a resident who has taken it for granted or abused it. Instead, almost universally, they become proud to be an American. They work even harder for their families and their communities (and they were already working hard in the first place). And, importantly, they become happier people, often at peace for the first time in their lives. I see this the most with asylees. They come to the United States escaping bad situations – often a combination of poverty and violence – with the hope that they can find safety and make a better life for themselves and their families. They’re scared, but they’re hopeful and striving for a better future. These are the people who pick themselves up by their bootstraps – they overcome more than any native-born American I have ever met.

Once they are granted asylee status in the US, you can immediately see the relief, but it usually takes a while to see the full effect – I think it takes a while for someone to fully accept their new future when their past was so full of violence and struggle. After about a year we hear back from them because it’s time to apply for residency. In that year they have become part of a community, are working, are providing for their families, are going to school or learning a new skill, and are incredibly grateful for what this country has given them – the chance to rise up.

If all Americans could see this side of immigrants – what I think is a nearly universal truth – I think many would come away with a new understanding and a changed opinion.

Thank you to all of our clients over the past year, and thank you to all of the people who come to this country to make a better life for themselves, because they in turn make us a better country.

Happy New Year!

-Abogado Jeff.