By Attorney Devin M. Connolly
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reinstate President Trump’s ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Therefore, refugees and citizens of these countries will continue to be admitted to the U.S. for now. This is not a final decision on whether President Trump’s Executive Order was lawful, but rather simply a decision that prohibits President Trump’s administration from enforcing the travel ban until after the courts have ruled on whether the Executive Order itself is lawful.
The government has multiple options they may pursue as a result of the Ninth Circuit’s decision. One such option is filing an appeal with the Supreme Court of the U.S. Since the Supreme Court currently only has 8 justices, if they were to issue a 4-4 decision, the Ninth Circuit’s decision halting the temporary ban would remain in effect. A second potential option would be for the Trump administration to issue a new Executive Order. President Trump can rewrite the Executive Order in an attempt to have it comply with existing law.
This decision was clearly a setback for President Trump. However, he is continuing to move forward with his desire for undocumented immigrants to be quickly deported back to their native countries. There are reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers conducting coordinated attacks on homes and business in southern California in a search for undocumented immigrants. This has understandably caused many people to be in great fear. The affected families and businesses will include far more than simply undocumented immigrants; it will also affect U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, children and the elderly, mother and fathers, etc.
With potential travel bans, raids, and possible more Executive Orders on the way, this is not an easy time for immigrants and their families. There is substantial fear about what will happen in the coming days and months. Will they or a loved one be deported? If they are apprehended, will they have an opportunity to see a judge or will they immediately be deported?
For undocumented immigrants, now is the time to speak with an immigration attorney and do everything you can to resolve your immigration status. There may very well be a solution for you about which you are unaware. You may be eligible for a green card based on a family relationship, based on a petition from an employer, or based on your fear of returning to your native country. There are also many other ways of possibly obtaining lawful immigration status in the U.S. that are less common and about which many people are unaware. These include obtaining a green card after being the victim of a crime, assisting law enforcement in investigating a crime, etc.
For people who are already permanent residents, now is the time to consider becoming a U.S. citizen. Having a green card is a wonderful thing, but it does not carry with it the rights of U.S. citizenship. In addition to things like not being able to vote, permanent residents can lose their lawful status and be deported. While it is true that permanent residents are most commonly deported for criminal offenses, that is not always the case. It is also possible to lose your green card for spending too much time outside of the U.S., etc. In addition, as we have seen over the last several days, returning to the U.S. from a trip abroad could be significantly more challenging for permanent residents. There are reports that green card holders were pressured to abandon their permanent resident status upon their arrivals at U.S. airports last week, simply because of their country of birth.
It is a very uncertain time right now for undocumented immigrants and their beloved family members. There are Executive Orders being issued, raids being conducted, and court decision being issued discussing the legality of travel bans, with many more court decision still likely to come. Try and remove as much uncertainty from your life as possible by resolving your immigrant status today – consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney about applying for a green card of becoming a U.S. citizen.