It’s already started. Immigrants’ worst nightmare has come true.
President Donald Trump, throughout his presidential campaign, vowed to deport 2-3 million immigrants from the country. Not a week into his presidency, Trump signed multiple executive orders, one of which, among other things, blocks visas issued to immigrants from Syria and seven other Muslim states.
Most of these countries don’t account for a large portion of entry to the United States through visas, but they do account for a big portion of refugee admittance.
And that’s left immigrants in a quandary.
Immigration attorneys are now being flooded by questions from people who arrived legally in the United States and are concerned whether they will be allowed back into the country if they go abroad for any reason.
All lawyers have advised them to stay in the country, at least for the time being.
“I don’t want to make people scared for no reason, but I think caution is best right now until we see what that exact language will be,” said Nermeen Arastu, clinical law professor at CUNY School of Law. “If you’re a not U.S. citizen, don’t leave right now.”
Hassan Shibly, CEO of the Florida chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations, said a government source told him to inform non-citizens not to leave the country, even if they hold green cards.
“We definitely need people to take caution at this point,” Shibly said. “With Trump, you cannot take any risks. You cannot take any principle of liberty or justice for granted. We cannot let our guard down.”
Trump’s executive order calls for prioritizing the deportation of undocumented immigrants who, among other things, “have been charged with criminal offense” (but not convicted). However, according to the University of Virginia professor and immigration scholar David Martin says, the language is “remarkably broad” and “takes that notion of ‘criminal alien’ to its farthest reaches” and free range would be given to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to decipher their meaning.
But, according to Politico, many of Trump’s executive orders were churned out without consultation from many agencies and lawmakers, like the State Department, Defense Department and the CIA, raising concerns about their validity.
Still, at this early stage, it would do well for legal immigrants, even those who have green cards, to stay cautious.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters