Yesterday, January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed and handed down the controversial executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” on immigration to protect the nation from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals. Among its main provisions the order suspends IMMIGRANT AND NON-IMMIGRANT entry of foreign nationals from countries of “particular concern” including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days, indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees from entering the United States until the U.S. refugee admissions program has been overhauled, and terminates the visa waiver interview process. The temporary ban will affect all non-U.S. Citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen including green card holders and valid U.S. visa holders. Foreign nationals of these countries will not be allowed to return to the United States for a period of 90 days, after temporary foreign travel, even if they are green card holders or visa holders. For this reason, if you are a foreign national from one of these countries, you should not engage in temporary foreign travel until the temporary ban has been lifted. Visa and green card holders already in the United States will be allowed to remain without problems.
An exemption has been drawn for immigrants and legal permanent residents whose entry is in the U.S. national interest, however it is not yet clear how that exemption will be applied.
Below is a summary of the main provisions of the order per the OFFICIAL signed copy.
To read the complete version please click here.
- Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern
- The immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries designated (including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libra, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) is suspended for 90 days from the date of the order January 27, 2017 (excludes foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, and C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations). This means that if you are a citizen of a country of “particular concern” as outlined above, you will NOT be allowed to re-enter the United States, after temporary foreign travel, until the ban has been lifted, even if you are a legal permanent resident (immigrant) or holder of a valid visa. If you are a foreign national of one of the above countries and you are an immigrant (green card holder) or non-immigrant (valid visa holder), you must NOT travel internationally. Otherwise, you will risk being denied re-entry.
- The Secretary of State and Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of additional countries who pose a security risk and are recommended for suspension.
- The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, must immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country for adjudication of any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA adequate to confirm the identity of the individual seeking the benefit and ensure that they are not a security or public-safety threat to the United States.
- The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National intelligence, must prepare a report for the President concerning the results of the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and provide a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of the order (excludes foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, and C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations).
- The Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.
- After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, and C- 2 visas for travel to the United Nations) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this order until compliance occurs.
- Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.
- Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for all Immigration Programs
- The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall implement a program, as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis, with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission.
- This program will include the development of uniform screening standards and procedures, such as in-person interviews; the creation of a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant’s identity; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positive contributing member of society, and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and, a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States
3. Realignment of U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for Fiscal Year 2017
- The order, indefinitely suspends all Syrian refugees from entering the United States until it has been determined that sufficient changes have been made to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to ensure that security standards have been met
- Suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days
- Proclaims that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental, and suspends such entry, until it is determined that admissions would be in the national interest
- USRAP application and adjudication process are subject to change and may include additional procedures for approval to ensure applicants do not pose a security threat to the United States, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of State and Homeland Security
- Refugee applicants who are already in USRAP may be admitted to the United States upon initiation and completion of revised application and adjudication procedures.
- After the 120 days have lapsed from the order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for foreign nationals of countries which the Secretary of Homeland Security, State, and Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure security of Americans
- Upon resumption of USRAP, Secretary of State is directed to make changes, to prioritize refugee claims by individuals made based on religious-based persecution if the individual is from a minority religion in their country o nationality
- Notwithstanding the temporary suspension, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may continue to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis when it is in the national interest.
- During the temporary suspension, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may continue to admit individuals to the United States as refugees those refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided the individual’s religion is a minority religion in their country of nationality
4. Rescission of Exercise of Authority Relating to the Terrorism Grounds of Inadmissibility
- The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Attorney General, consider rescinding the exercises of authority in section 212 of the INA relating to the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility, as well as any related implementing memoranda
5. Visa Interview Security
- The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa, undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.
6. Visa Validity Reciprocity
- The Secretary of State shall review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal insofar as practicable with respect to validity period and fees, as urged by sections 221 (c) and 281 of the INA, and other treatment. If a country does not treat U.S. nationals seeking nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of U.S. nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable.
7. Transparency and Data Collection
- The Secretary of Homeland Security shall, consistent with applicable law, collect and make publicly available within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter:
- (a) information regarding the number of foreign-born individuals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses; convicted of terrorism-related offenses; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons;
- (b) information regarding the number of foreign-born individuals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States; and
- (c) information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women or honor killings by foreign-born individuals in the United States.
Notably missing from these provisions is the “Establishment of Safe Zones to Protect Vulnerable Syrian Population” that appeared in the leaked version released on January 26th. That provision indicated that the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, would produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and surrounding regions to displaced Syrian nationals within 90 days of the date of the order.
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