Post-Election 2017 Update

Important Information for Immigrants 

This is an uncertain time in our country. President Trump’s Executive Orders are grounded in fear, not in fact.  They call for actions that are expensive, unnecessary, and antithetical to JFON’s values of compassion and dignity for all individuals. As people of faith, we are called upon to seek mercy, do justice, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. As community members, we must fight Trump’s harmful policies any way we can and lift a message of inclusivity, compassion and justice.

Times change; governments change; yet these commands remain unchanged. JFON will continue to stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters and fight for them, and alongside them. Join us!

The two Executive Orders signed on January 25, 2017 focus on border security and interior enforcement.

Executive Order One: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Movements 

Executive Order Two: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

The two Executive Orders signed on January 25, 2017 focus on border security and interior enforcement.

On Monday, February 20th, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly issued memos implementing these two executive orders. The memos contain alarming provisions that will put our communities and constitutional protections at serious risk. Of particular concern to our national network of legal service providers is the dramatic increase in eligibility for “priority” deportation. Immigration enforcement agents can now arrest and initiate deportation proceedings for every undocumented immigrant instead of only those convicted of serious crimes. This will undoubtedly violate the civil rights of individuals across the country and make our communities less safe.

We know that policies like this discourage our most vulnerable family members, neighbors and friends from reporting crimes to local law enforcement, accessing live-saving services like emergency care and participating in everyday life. The memos also include a vast expansion of expedited removal, a procedure for quick deportation, which will make it virtually impossible for victims of violence, children and those with family ties and deep roots in our communities to obtain the relief for which they are eligible under the law.

Expedited removal allows DHS to deport individuals in as little as 24 hours without the opportunity to appear before an immigration judge or to consult with legal counsel. Furthermore, the Kelly memos establish a new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office which perpetuates hateful and false propaganda that immigrants are criminals. This is dangerous and unacceptable. Immigrants are a celebrated part of the fabric of American society, and NJFON vows to stand beside them, reject hate and demand real solutions.

Key points include: 

  • Construct a southern border wall
  • Boost border patrol forces and increase the number of immigration enforcement officers who carry out deportations
  • End “catch and release,” in essence guaranteeing that immigrants and asylum-seekers are continuously detained and denied freedom, with no regard to humanitarian concerns
  • Cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities and counties, which have chosen to not cooperate with ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in favor of protecting their residents
  • Prioritize deportation of certain immigrants (this encompasses not only “criminals” but a range of other categories, including those who have been charged with a crime but not convicted)

UPDATED June 2017: Executive Order Three (Rewritten): “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

The Supreme Court issued a decision on the Trump Administration’s rewritten refugee and Muslim ban in June 26, 2017. The Court first consolidated the two key cases in the travel and refugee ban litigation, Trump v. IRAP and Trump v. Hawaii, which will now be heard together during the first session of the October 2017 term. The Supreme Court then reinstated the ban for persons who cannot show a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” They will not be allowed to enter the country, unless they are granted a waiver of entry.

The Court offers the following examples of foreign nationals from the six countries who can claim a “bona fide relationship” with the United States and enter the country:

  • Individuals who have a close familial relationship in the United States, such as an individual who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member.
  • Individuals who have a “formal, documented” relationship with an American entity that was “formed in the ordinary course.”

*  The state of Hawaii ruled on 7/13/2017 that the administration had wrongfully interpreted “bona fide relationship” to exclude close family, such as grandparents. This court decision means that “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States” will now count as sufficiently close family relationships to gain entry into the country.

To learn more about the recent Court decision, check out:

a fact sheet from Muslim Advocates;

a fact sheet from National Immigration Law Center (NILC);

a fact sheet from International Refugee Assistance Project; or

a fact sheet from American Immigration Lawyers Association.

This order:

  • Revokes and replaces the original EO. Includes an unprecedented travel ban in that it excludes entry into our country based on where someone was born.  The order now applies to Iran, Somalia, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Yemen. 
  • Includes a suspension of America’s refugee program for 120 days, which will effectively grind refugee resettlement here to a halt.  This is because many of the requirements of refugees, such as security screenings and medical exams, are time-limited and will expire by the time the ban is lifted
  • Syrian refugees are no longer specifically indefinitely banned, but are grouped in with the broader 120 days refugee ban
  • Reduces the number of refugees we will accept from 110,000 to 50,000, reneging on our nation’s pledge to the world to provide refuge to these most imperiled people
  • Allows states to have a more active role in banning the acceptance of refugees.  We have seen many governors over the past year seek to shut the door on refugees, and this order grants them more authority to do just that

Moving Forward:

We expect more executive orders to be announced soon, including an assault on our nation’s DACA program and the stripping of public benefits for our neighbors in need.  We will keep you informed of these actions and provide as many specific ways to engage as possible.  In the meantime, thank you for your compassion, your advocacy, and for standing with us and our immigrant neighbors.

Common FAQs:

  • Should I apply for DACA now, or renew it if I have it? We recommend you speak with an immigration attorney if you are considering applying for DACA for the first time or renewing DACA.
  • Will my in-state tuition / admission to university/college end if I am undocumented? The laws that provide in- state tuition/admission for students are passed by states and cannot be changed by the President.
  • I plan to file an application for VAWA / U visa/ T visa. Should I wait? There is no reason to delay filing for this relief. It is established in U.S. law and cannot be changed by the President acting alone.