A refugee last month at a detention center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.Read More
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSOCT. 24, 2017, 10:54 P.M. E.D.T.
WASHINGTON — The Latest on the end of the Trump administration's refugee ban (all times EDT):
Refugee admissions into the U.S. will resume under new, stricter screening rules, but nationals from 11 countries believed to pose higher risk to U.S. national security face even tougher scrutiny.
U.S. officials are refusing to identify the 11 countries, but say refugee applications from those nations will be judged case-by-case.
President Donald Trump issued his new order on refugee screening Tuesday as the administration's four-month ban on refugee admissions expired.
Refugees already face an extensive backlog and waiting periods that can take years. Additional screening will likely lengthen the wait.
President Donald Trump is again allowing refugees to be processed for entry into the United States following the expiration of 120-day worldwide ban on such admissions.
But refugees who want to come to the U.S. will be subject to additional screening.
Trump has signed an executive order directing relevant government agencies to resume refugee processing. The administration says more in-depth review is needed for refugees from 11 countries believed to pose a higher risk to national security. That review period will last 90 days.
Administration officials would not identify the 11 countries, but they say refugee cases from those nations will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
The refugee restrictions come in addition to Trump's broader "travel ban" on all immigrants from several countries. Courts have repeatedly blocked that policy
The Supreme Court has dismissed a case about President Donald Trump's 120-day worldwide ban on refugees now that the ban has expired.
The Trump administration is planning to unveil new screening procedures soon.
The justices' order on Tuesday wipes away a lower court ruling that found problems with the refugee ban and a temporary pause on visitors from six mostly Muslim countries. A new travel policy that applies to six countries with Muslim majorities already has been blocked by lower courts.
The matter could return to the high court. But for now, the justices have stepped away the controversy without ruling on the legality of the administration's actions.
President Donald Trump's 120-day worldwide ban on refugees entering the United States is ending as his administration prepares to unveil new screening procedures.
A State Department official says the refugee suspension ended Tuesday, the date set in Trump's executive order. The Homeland Security Department, the State Department and other U.S. agencies have been reviewing the screening process for those seeking to enter the country as refugees, in line with Trump's "extreme vetting" policy for immigrants.
The official says new steps to "further intensify" screening procedures will be announced shortly. The official wasn't authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.
The refugee restrictions were in addition to Trump's broader "travel ban" on all immigrants from several countries. Courts have repeatedly blocked that policy.
October 18, 2017. BBC World
US President Donald Trump's latest bid to impose travel restrictions on citizens from eight countries entering the US has suffered a court defeat.
A federal judge slapped a temporary restraining order on the open-ended ban before it could take effect this week.
The policy targets Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, as well as some Venezuelan officials.
Previous iterations of the ban targeted six Muslim-majority countries, and were widely referred to as a "Muslim ban".
The state of Hawaii sued in Honolulu to block Mr Trump's third version, which was set to go into effect early on Wednesday.
Hawaii argued in court documents that the revised policy was fulfilling Mr Trump's campaign promise for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", despite the addition of North Korea and Venezuela.
It also argued the president did not have the powers under federal immigration law to impose such restrictions.
US District Judge Derrick Watson, who blocked Mr Trump's last travel ban in March, issued the new restraining order.
The president's controversial travel bans have each been frustrated by the courts to some degree:
- In January, the president signed an order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending all refugee entry. The measure prompted protests and legal challenges across dozens of states
- A revised version exempted green card holders and dual citizens. By June, the Supreme Court allowed most of it to go into effect - but granted a wide exemption for those with a "bona fide connection" to the US
- That was replaced by Mr Trump's latest order, announced in late September, which changed the criteria and added non-Muslim-majority nations North Korea and Venezuela.
In Hawaii, Judge Watson decided that the new policy "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor".
He said "it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six [of the] specified countries would be 'detrimental to the interests of the United States'".
His decision temporarily blocks the ban on all targeted countries except North Korea and Venezuela.
The ban is also facing court challenges from Maryland, Washington state, Massachusetts, California, Oregon and New York.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement the latest court order was "dangerously flawed" and "undercuts" efforts to keep Americans safe.
"These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation," she said.
She said the White House was confident the president's "lawful and necessary action" would eventually be upheld by the courts.
As it stands, the Supreme Court has delayed its consideration of the case from October, asking all parties to resubmit briefs to the court accounting for the changes made between the second and third versions of the order.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
Trump administration threatens judicial independence
SILVER SPRING, Maryland – The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. is alarmed by a Justice Department proposal to impose quota-driven evaluations for immigration judges, threatening to undermine the impartiality and effectiveness of the immigration court system.
“The Justice Department’s quota-driven proposal is an unprecedented overreach by the executive branch into the traditional authority of judges,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director at CLINIC.
As reported by the Washington Post Oct. 12, the Justice Department “intends to implement numeric performance standards to evaluate Judge performance.”
“The proposal raises serious concerns about the fundamental separation of powers inherent in the American system of justice. If this plan is implemented, it would constitute an attack by the administration on the integrity of our immigration courts,” Atkinson said. “It shows a lack of basic respect for the rule of law. To restrict judges from fully evaluating critical evidence in cases—effectively denying people a fair trial—flies in the face of the foundational tenets of the American legal system."
“The opportunity to present your case before an immigration judge is a fight for your life and your family’s safety,” said Michelle Mendez, manager of CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations program who also serves as faculty for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. “While the government prioritizes a focus on clearing the statistical backlog of cases for immigration judges, creating a quota-driven court system is the wrong approach, and one that the Framers unequivocally rejected as they created a country that would be an enduring beacon of hope for the persecuted.”
CLINIC strongly opposes the Justice Department’s misguided plans to address historic backlogs in the immigration court system by imposing quotas that would shift judges’ focus away from fully evaluating cases involving human lives to unrealistic timelines and arbitrary numbers.
Even as the Trump administration is asking Congress to approve a tough overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, the Department of Homeland Security is also quietly exploring ways it could transform the US immigration system on its own.
The department has been examining a range of subtle modifications to immigration policies that could have major consequences, including limiting protections for unaccompanied minors who come to the US illegally, expanding the use of speedy deportation proceedings, and tightening visa programs in ways that could limit legal immigration to the US, according to multiple sources familiar with the plans.
None of the policies being explored are finalized, according to the sources, and are in various stages of development. Any of them could change or fall by the wayside. Some of them are also included at least in part in the wish list of immigration priorities that President Donald Trump sent to Congress this week, and it's unclear whether the administration will wait to see the results of negotiations over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Donald Trump has chosen to end.
Still, the proposals under consideration illustrate the extent to which the administration could attempt to dramatically change immigration in the US through unilateral executive action.
"Do you think Obama did a lot? That's my answer," said one former DHS official when asked how transformative the change could be. "They could do quite a bit."
DACA itself was an example of how former President Barack Obama, frustrated with congressional inaction, sought to use executive authority to take action on immigration, putting in place the program to protect young undocumented immigrations brought to the US as children from deportation in 2012.
But the administration is now exploring rolling back more Obama-era policies, and changing even older systems.
DHS did not respond to a request for comment about the policies being explored or its process.
Targeting protections for unaccompanied minors
One effort underway is exploring what can be done about unaccompanied children (UACs), a category of undocumented immigrants who are caught illegally crossing the border into the US, are under age 18, and are not accompanied or met by a parent or guardian in the US. Those UACs, by law and legal settlement, are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services for settling in the US, given protections from expedited removal proceedings and given special opportunities to pursue asylum cases in the US.
DHS and the Department of Justice have been exploring options to tighten the protections for UACs, including no longer considering them UACs if they're reunited with parents or guardians in the US by HHS or once they turn 18.
In a previously unreported memo, obtained by CNN, the general counsel of the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which manages the nation's immigration courts, wrote in a legal opinion that the administration would be able to decide a UAC was no longer eligible for protections -- a sea change in the way the 2008 law granting those protections has been interpreted.
The Trump administration has portrayed the UAC protections as a loophole in the law that can be exploited by gangs, though experts have testified before Congress that the minors under the program are more likely to be victimized by gangs in the US due to a lack of a support network than to be gang members. The administration also has sought to crack down on parents who pay smugglers to bring their children into the US illegally, even to escape dangerous situations in Central America.
The White House also asked Congress to amend the 2008 law to restrict UAC protections.
In previously unreported comments made last month at a security conference in Washington, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan said that ICE is actively looking at the adults HHS places UACs with, and if they are in the US illegally, they will be processed for deportation -- and if a smuggler was paid, they could be prosecuted for human trafficking.
"You cannot hide in the shadows, you can't be an illegal alien in the United States, have your undocumented child smuggled at the hands of a criminal organization, and stay in the shadows," Homan said. "We're going to put the parents in proceedings, immigration proceedings, at a minimum. ... Is that cruel? I don't think so. Because if that child is really escaping fear and persecution, he's going to stand in front of an immigration judge to plead his case, his parents should be standing shoulder to shoulder with him. I call that parenting."
DHS is also continuing to weigh its options to expand the use of expedited removal more generally -- a speedier process of deportation that bypasses a lengthy court process in particular cases -- as authorized by Trump's January executive order on immigration.
Legal immigration tightening
Other efforts in the works include ways to tighten legal avenues to come to the US.
Two policies being looked at are the subject of litigation in the DC Circuit court -- work authorizations for spouses of high-skilled visa holders and an expansion of a program that allows STEM students to stay in the US an extra two years for training.
Both policies were challenged in the courts, and now the administration is considering whether to roll them back.
On the spousal authorizations, DHS told the court as much in a filing last month, asking for extra time for the DHS review to finish.
That filing points to a DHS review of "all" of the agency's immigration policies, citing the President's Executive Order to "buy American and hire American."
"Executive Order 13,788 is an intervening event necessitating careful, considered review of all of DHS's immigration policies to ensure that the interests of US workers are being protected," the attorneys wrote, citing the order's instructions to create new rules, if necessary, "to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system."
DHS has also moved to tighten asylum claim credibility thresholds, and is exploring asking Congress for more authority to do so. Another target is reportedly cultural exchange visas, which according to The Wall Street Journal are also under scrutiny after the "hire American" order.
Further unilateral moves wouldn't even require policy changes, immigration attorneys fear. Attorneys who represent immigration clients fear that simply by slowing down the visa process, DHS could substantially decrease the number of immigrants admitted to the United States. US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced this summer it would begin requiring interviews for all green card applicants on employment and refugee grounds, and that it would roll out required interviews for other categories over time, adding a substantial and potentially lengthy hurdle to achieving legal permanent residency.
"If the wait time for naturalizations increases by three months, USCIS can naturalize 25% fewer people per year, which would mean millions of people over a four-year period," said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney and former Obama administration DOJ official. "Even without a policy change, the administration (can accomplish) dramatic reductions to legal immigration through increases in processing times and taking a hawkish approach to finding reasons for denials of immigration applications."
Sources familiar with the inner workings of DHS describe an environment where political appointees and policy staff with strongly held opinions circulate ideas that sometimes reach the press before front office and secretarial staff are even aware of the discussions.
While political appointees and career officials are not described as butting heads, some of policy ideas do end up moderated by career employees on practical grounds. One source also described some employees of USCIS, which administers DACA, as getting emotional when the plan was made to end the program.
"Once it gets to a senior level, there are pretty robust discussions," another source familiar said. "And once it gets to that level there are folks with ideas, and then folks who have been around for a while who say, 'That won't work.'"
Those competing ideas are then ultimately decided on by the secretary and high-level decision makers, though sources say political appointees are sometimes in a position to have influence over what information flows to the front office and top officials.
"The secretary and the decision makers end up with that (dynamic)," the source said.
The first case we were assured, back in January before the first executive order was signed, is coming! Two brothers, ages 23 and 25, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will arrive in Northampton next week. They are coming from a refugee camp in Burundi, where they have lived since they were 9 and 11 years old. We are so happy to finally welcome them!
As many of you know, yesterday President Trump rescinded his original Executive Order (travel ban) and replaced it with a new Executive Order that will go into effect on March 16, 2017. The new EO, allows for more exceptions to the travel ban and eliminates Iraq from the list of designated countries who are banned from entry for 90 days. However the ban of “Nationals of Countries of Particular Concerns” is as thinly veiled second attempt at blocking Muslim travel and/or settlement in the US.
From the perspective of refugee reception and placement, this EO changes very little from the original travel ban. Effective March 16, the order suspends travel of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days. After the 120 days, movement of refugees may continue only for those countries that have met the requirements of vetting to the satisfaction of DOS and DHS.
Additionally, the cap for refugee admissions has been slashed to 50,000 down from the 110,000 originally planned for FY2017. The capping of the program at 50,000 halts the hopes and dreams of 60,000 refugee men, women and children who were well on their way through the extensive vetting process for US resettlement.
In this moment there are many public policy experts, immigration lawyers, and agency directors who are combing through the order. We will do our best to keep people informed as circumstances change and as we understand better what, if anything, we will be able to expect regarding the refugee families who have already been formally accepted and are awaiting travel.
Catholic Charities Agency
All of us are keenly aware of the recent Executive Order (EO) signed by President Trump on January 27 that effectively suspends the entrance into our country of several categories of immigrants and indefinitely suspends the entrance of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Circumstances surrounding the EO are changing day-by-day as advocacy groups, agencies, and organizations attempt to block the execution of the EO. Therefore, what is known today could change quickly.
This is what we know, so far. The EO does impact our Welcome Home Refugee Resettlement program for Northampton. The movement of all refugees is suspended for 120 days pending review of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) application and adjudication process. Specifically mentioned is the prohibition of the processing and arrivals of Syrian refugees until it has been determined that Syrian resettlement to the U.S. is in alignment with the best interests of the United States. In addition, the number of refugees admitted to the United States in FY2017 is reduced from 110,000 to 50,000.
To date, Catholic Charities has provided assurances (a process that verifies that we accept a refugee case for reception and placement) for 18 individuals. Five of the individuals are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, three individuals from Bhutan, three individuals from Iraq, and seven individuals from Syria. They will remain as our assigned cases in the interim 120 days, but will not be allowed entry during that period. We will not have access to R&P funding or the two case management assistance grants until such time as the resettlement process resumes. However, our staffing will remain and be sustained by Catholic Charities funds.
Aside from continuing to prepare for the eventual arrival of our refugee families, we are asking all to sustain the resistance and outcry against this suspension and its ill-conceived and uncompassionate provisions. Time can be the damper of public outrage. What begins as front-page headlines can all too soon be relegated to back page news. Make noise publicly. Please, also remember that there are other refugees from countries like the Congo, Burundi, Bhutan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Ethiopia have been swept into this suspension. Originating from countries that pose not "threat" to ours and already much ignored (some of whom have spent the longest time in refugee camps) they have again become the forgotten in this conversation. Write or call your representatives and senators, write the Supreme Court justices, sign on to national petitions that oppose the EO -- and keep it up until we see results.
This and future newsletters will include links and other aids to keep us informed and active in our advocacy efforts.
Catholic Charities Agency