It is been one of the most memorable weekends in my own career as an immigration lawyer, going back to 2002.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States." The Executive Order, as originally issued, applied to all individuals "from" the 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Incredibly, the order included not only nonimmigrant visa holders, but also immigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs). It essentially banned entry by any of these individuals into the United States for minimum of 90 days. For individuals from Syria, the ban was indefinite.
The order was remarkable because, although terrorist attacks against the United States have originated from a number of predominantly Muslim countries, in this century at least none are reported to have emanated from these seven. Pres. Trump went on record in the television interview afterwards saying, among other things, that special consideration would be given to protection of Syrian Christians, even though they are "individuals" on the list of countries whose entry is banned. The conclusion is inescapable, therefore, that the ban is really directed towards people of the Muslim faith, regardless of their personal histories, or existing legal status in the United States.
One doesn't have to read here in this blog entry that there have been massive protests nationwide against this discrimination, as well as numerous court challenges. Four federal district courts have already blocked various aspects of the order, and over the weekend the Department of Homeland Security backtracked on the ban as it applies to lawful permanent residents.
I find it shocking that permanent residents whose home is this country would be denied the right to return to it in the absence of any specific evidence that they individually pose any threat to national security or are otherwise inadmissible. The same may be said for people granted asylum or refugees, all of whom have already undergone extensive "vetting" and would not be granted admission to the United States if they had not already passed vigorous security background checks. The mere fact that one's country of origin is the criteria for denial is the essence of arbitrary and capricious government decision-making, and oppression by the Executive Branch of the United States. I don't believe that we have seen anything like this since Japanese citizens were confined to concentration camps in the United States during the Second World War.
I, together with thousands of my colleagues who practice immigration law, will be steadfast in opposition to these illegal actions of the Executive Branch of this country's federal government. As Americans, we are better than this, regardless of who resides in the White House.
Brian D. O'Neill Attorney at Law, LLC
Immigration, Employment and Business Law