Explanation and Consequences of the Presidential Executive Order
NOTE: This document is not legal advice but instead provides the best answers that we can provide at this time. It is subject to change as additional guidance is released from the U.S. Government. Additionally, the legality of the actions in the President’s Executive Order are subject to judicial review. Please be aware that certain aspects of the order may be contested for its constitutionality.
The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is being suspended for 120 days for all populations. Additionally, Syrian refugees have an indefinite bar on being resettled, until such time that the President determines that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP. The executive order does not specify what sufficient changes need to look like. The Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) has cancelled all travel for Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Somali, Sudanese, Yemeni, and Libyan nationalities in the USRAP, with no exceptions. This includes refugees, SIVs, visa 93s, and parolees. It also includes those who may be considered a religious minority in their country of nationality. Please note – this does not include Afghan SIVs who may book their own travel (see further guidance later in this document). Further guidance on other nationalities traveling January 30 – February 2, 2017 will be issued by PRM as soon as possible. Beginning on February 3, 2017, all refugee travel will be cancelled until further notice.
What else does the order do?
The order further bans residents of seven countries, including green card holders from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Sudan from visiting or entering the U.S. for 90 days. Other countries may be added to the list, as determined by the Secretaries for the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Adjudications of other immigration benefits could be impacted. On a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, Secretaries for the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.
Yes, but only on a case-by-case exception as determined by the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis by the Administration if it is in the national interest, the person would not pose a risk, the person is a religious minority facing religious persecution, the admission of the person is required to conform U.S. conduct to an international agreement, or when a person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship. It is unclear at this time how the Administration may implement such exceptions.
The program may resume on May 27, 2017, which is 120 days from the signing of the Executive Order on January 27, 2017. At that point, the program shall only resume for certain countries if the Secretary of State, Secretary of DHS, and the Director of National Intelligence determine there are sufficient safeguards in place.
Refugees currently in the pipeline may be admitted after they complete additional screening processes that will be devised by the Secretary of State and Secretary of DHS. The executive order does not specifically mention what these requirements will be or when they will be implemented, but it is possible that refugees currently in the pipeline may begin to be admitted after certain processes are in place. It is important to note that during the 120-day period, security and medical clearances for previously travel-ready refugees may expire and that these security checks and medicals will need to be re-requested. This is in addition to other requirements that may be implemented. After the pause is lifted, the ceiling on admissions will remain at 50,000, as determined under this executive order.
Once the USRAP pause is lifted, will the program be the same?
No, the executive order has placed several guidelines that will shape the purpose and function of the program. They include:
• The President has essentially amended the previous Presidential Determination for Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2017, which had allowed for the admission of up to 110,000 refugees, to an amended maximum number of 50,000 refugees.
• The executive order directs that when the program resumes, the program should prioritize the resettlement of religious-based persecution claims of religious minorities.
• This executive order ceases resettlement for Syrians until such time that vetting procedures for Syrians are deemed “consistent with the national interest” by the President.
• The executive order directs the Secretary of DHS to examine existing law to determine if the executive could provide more determinative power to state and local governments resettling refugees. Given current efforts to stop resettlement in certain states and localities, this makes it more important than ever for us to lift up support for resettlement among communities and state and local policy makers.
Yes, the executive order directs an indefinite pause on the resettlement of Syrian nationals until the President can ensure the resettlement of Syrians is “consistent with the national interest.” At this time, it is unclear what those stipulations are and what specific factors define “national interest.”
There is a full suspension of all refugees for a period of 120 days while the Secretaries of State and DHS review the program. The executive order allows for exceptions for admission on a case-by-case basis and for religious minorities. Immigrants and nonimmigrants from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya are suspended from entry for 90 days as of January 27, 2017. Syrians are suspended from resettlement indefinitely, pending review.
As of now, it is advised that no one from one of the listed countries should travel outside of the United States unless they are a naturalized U.S. Citizen. This includes a recommendation that Lawful Permanent Residents should not travel outside the United States. Foreign nationals of these countries are encouraged to make a free appointment at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) by visiting https://my.uscis.gov/appointment or consult an accredited representative or lawyer who specializes in immigration law. This website provides a national mapping of immigration lawyers: https://www.immigrationlawhelp.org/. (See also: https://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams).
The executive order directs that the screening process for all refugees and immigrants should include a process to “evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positive contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest.” As of today, USCIS circuit rides are suspended, but other processing activities, with the exception of travel and related out-processing activities, continue. The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs will issue separate guidance regarding the continuation or suspension of visa processing.
As of yet it remains unclear whether the new screening process will impact recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or any group of migrants including Syrians. Some applicants and visa holder may be required to go through additional screening.
As of now, yes. The executive order did not include any restrictions to services to refugees. Funding for resettlement services is dependent upon Congress, and appropriations have already been allocated through April 28, 2017.However, further funds must be appropriated for these accounts on or before April 28, 2017 when the current continuing resolution ends. We will have to make our voices heard to Members of Congress to ensure that this funding is robust.
The Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration has cancelled all travel for Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Somali, Sudanese, Yemeni, and Libyan nationalities in the USRAP, with no exceptions. This includes refugees, SIVs, visa 93s, and parolees. It also includes those who may be considered a religious minority in their country of nationality. Further guidance on other nationalities traveling January 30 – February 2, 2017 will be issued by the State Department as soon as possible. Beginning on February 3, 2017, all refugee travel will be cancelled until further notice.We do not recommend that Iraqi SIVs self-book flights during the 90-day ban and until further guidance is released from the U.S. government. It is recommended that Afghan SIVs seek legal guidance before moving forward with self-booking until further guidance is released from the U.S. government.
While additional guidance for case-by-case exceptions may be forthcoming from the State Department, we do not anticipate large numbers of refugees being admitted through the USRAP during the pause, despite the possibility of exceptions. Thus, we do not recommend moving forward with securing leases, putting down security deposits, or otherwise preparing homes for arrivals for any clients expected to arrive after February 2, 2017.
Assurances will not be requested during the 120-day pause in the program, and allocations meetings will be suspended during this time.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has temporarily halted all USCIS circuit rides to interview refugees. Resettlement Support Centers are still staffed around the world and will be providing information to clients in the coming days.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is not making any additional bookings for refugees or SIVs as arrivals have been suspended for the next 120 days. There are thousands of refugees and SIVs booked for travel between February and March 2017; these individuals will likely be removed from travel; however, save for Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Somali, Sudanese, Yemeni, and Libyan nationalities, this has not yet occurred.
All nationals from Iraq, including Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders from Iraq, are banned completely from entering the U.S. for a period of 90 days from January 27, 2017. SIV holders from Afghanistan do not appear to be immediately affected by this executive order. Family members joining their Afghan SIV holder family member go through a SIV follow-to-join process that comes from the same SIV statute so any family members of an SIV holder will fall under same restrictions (or not) as the anchor. We are awaiting further guidance from DHS and the State Department on how this executive order will affect this population. We do not recommend that Iraqi SIVs self-book flights during the 90-day ban and until further guidance is released from the U.S. government. We recommend that Afghan SIVs seek legal guidance before moving forward with self-booking their flight until further guidance is released from the U.S. government.
The executive order does require additional screening for certain individuals already present in the United States. It remains to be seen what–if any–impact it might have on your legal status or your ability to further adjust your status when you are eligible to do so. This executive order may limit your ability to file for family reunification in the immediate future, depending on how the executive order is implemented.
• The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs will issue separate guidance regarding the continuation or suspension of Visas 93 cases.
• For P-3 cases, AOR prescreening may continue but USCIS circuit rides are suspended, as is travel and related out-processing activities.
• On January 24, 2017, the Government of Austria electronically cancelled the D visas of all applicants who had not yet traveled to Austria. The Government of Austria has asked D visa holders to go to the Austrian Embassy in Tehran to have the visa physically cancelled. No appointment is required. Those with D visas who attempt to travel to Austria regardless of the cancellation of the D visa will not be allowed entry into Austria and will not be eligible for any future visas to Austria. The RSC Austria registration appointments for these applicants have been cancelled. RSC Austria has put these cases on hold until further notice.
Resources from Refugee Center:
1) Who is a refugee?
According to the United Nations, “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.
2) Why can’t they return home?
In many cases, refugees might prefer to return to their home country. They become refugees due to fear of being persecuted by their own government. It takes years, sometimes decades for a situation to improve, once someone has fled out of the country it is often almost impossible for them to return home.
3) What is it like to live in the refugee camp?
People leave behind their homes, property, in some cases all belongings when they flee. Refugee camps across the world are managed by the UN’s refugee agency called the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugee camps vary around the world.
4) How are they vetted before their resettlement in the U.S.?
Receiving Refugee Status to enter the United States of America requires exceptional scrutiny. Refugees undergo a rigorous set of screening procedures in order to be admitted into the United States. Please see the link below to learn more about the refugee process.
5) Is United States the only country that resettles refugees?
No. There are other western countries that resettle refugees each year including Canada, Australia, Norway, United Kingdom. The number of refugees admitted varies from country to country.
6) Where can I learn more about refugees and current U.S. government policies?
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration under the U.S. Department of State
Office of Refugee Resettlement/
ABOUT THE AGENCY
7) What exactly does Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (CRRA) do?
Since the mid-1990s, the agency under HIAS has been resettling refugees to Charlotte. CRRA was founded in 2011, as a non-profit organization with the 501c3 status. Our sole purpose is to resettle refugees coming to Charlotte. We are affiliated with the HIAS, one of several National Agencies that accepts and places refugees to affiliate offices across the country. Once refugees arrive in Charlotte, the agency is responsible to assist with the local integration process which includes but is not limited to: finding housing, applying for social benefits, finding them employment and moving toward self-sufficiency within a short window of time.
8) Why do refugees come to Charlotte?
After a refugee has been officially approved to legally enter the United States by the Department of Homeland Security, CRRA’s National Agency, HIAS, forwards the names of incoming arrivals to our office. Determining who may come to Charlotte is based on the refugees ties in the area and the services CRRA can provide locally.
9) How many refugees does CRRA assist each year?
The agency’s goal is to resettle up to 350 new arrivals this year. The agency also offers extended employment services, case management and immigration legal services to refugees and asylees who have been in the county for up to five years. With that in mind, CRRA may be currently be working with well over 700 people annually.
10) What other services do you provide?
Aside from the initial refugee resettlement service period of 90 days, the agency may also provide employment and case management for up to 5 years. The agency also has immigration legal services and citizenship preparation classes.
11) How can I help?
CRRA appreciates your consideration to be involved in the refugee resettlement process. The agency is always in need of volunteers who are willing drive clients to appointments, interpret, sort donations and assist with apartment set-ups, among other things. For more information please visit the Volunteer Page.
12) It seems CRRA could be an ideal organization for an internship. How do I proceed?
Yes, dozens of students have interned with CRRA. Please send the agency your resume and cover letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information please visit the Internship page.
13) What can I donate?
CRRA appreciates your willingness to make a donation. We accept furniture and household items or cash donations. To make donations of furniture and household items, please visit the Donations page for more information. Cash donations are accepted through the PayPal icon at the top of this page.
14) I might be interested to serve as a board member. What do I do?
Thank you for considering to serve on the CRRA Board of Directors. Please feel free to email us your resume and a cover letter at: email@example.com. When a vacancy is available and if your skills meet the agency’s needs, you will be contacted. Please remember that this would be an unpaid position with significant commitments.
15) Are there any job opportunities at CRRA?
The agency is a small, yet growing organization. For job inquiries please send your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRRA staff is available to answer further questions.
Please feel free to email or call us at: email@example.com, 704-535-8803.