• Ten Things the Media Will Get Wrong About Trump’s New Executive Order on Immigration

    March 9, 2017

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Trump

    As Trump issues a revised Executive Order on immigration, the media is almost certain to get many things wrong in its reporting; they did with the earlier order in late January. After 24 years of doing visa and immigration work for the Department of State,

    Short version: most of what people will be very upset about this week has been U.S. policy for some time and is actually unrelated to the Trump Executive Order.

    1. The Executive Order (EO) is invalid because the United States cannot discriminate based on national origin.

    False. 8 U.S.C. 1152 Sec. 202(a)(1)(A) makes it unlawful only to ban immigrants (Legal Permanent Residents, green card holders) because of “nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” The law however is silent on banning non-immigrants such as tourists or students, as well as refugees, for those same reasons. Including green card holders was one of the major errors committed by Trump in the January EO. The new EO excludes them.

    2. The six countries affected by the new EO are being unfairly singled out. There’s no evidence the nationals from those countries pose any threat.

    The countries affected by Trump’s executive order – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – have been singled out under American immigration law since the days following 9/11.

    For example, the six are included in a 2015 law signed by President Obama, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12). The list thus has nothing to do with any of Trump’s business interests. He did not create it, nor is he the first American president to omit Saudi Arabia from post-9/11 scrutiny. That 2015 list, part of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, disallows use of America’s visa-free travel program to foreigners who even once visited the targeted nations. So, for example, British citizens otherwise eligible to enter the United States without a visa must instead appear for questioning and be individually approved for an actual printed visa in their passport at an American embassy or consulate abroad.

    The six countries are also included in a special vetting process in place since the George W. Bush administration, continued under Barack Obama, and still operating today. Simply called “administrative processing,” people from these nations and others go through an alternate visa procedure that delays their travel as they wait to be vetted by various intelligence agencies. Some applications are left to pend indefinitely as a way to say no without formally saying no in a way that invites challenge.

    Lastly, three of the six nations included under Trump’s EO — Iran, Sudan, and Syria — have been designated for years by the State Department as state sponsors of terrorism.

    As for the numbers, in FY2015, 27,751 tourist visas were issued to Iranians, Sudan 3,647, Syria 8,419, Libya 1,374, Somalia 185 and Yemen 3007. All of those people may still travel under the new EO, but the number are illustrative of the relatively small scale of the EO; in that same year, the United States issued almost 11 million visas worldwide.

    3. But some people with valid visas are being refused entry into the U.S.

    Yes, and they always have, long before Trump. Unlike many nations, the U.S. uses a two-tiered system for immigration. Visas are issued abroad by the Department of State, and represent only permission to apply to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. entry port for admission. A traveler can have a valid visa and for a variety of reasons still be denied entry into the U.S.

    4. Travelers have other rights that are being denied.

    Foreign persons outside the United States are not protected by the Constitution. U.S. courts have also ruled continuously over time that decisions to issue or refuse visas abroad are not subject to judicial review.

    Non-citizens without green cards generally do not have the right to an attorney at an airport, except if questions relate to something other than immigration status, such as certain types of criminal charges. Non-citizens can generally be temporarily detained without formal due process. In most cases the government maintains until admitted to the U.S. by CBP, a traveler is actually not “in” the U.S. with the full range of legal protections. Nothing new here specific to the Trump EO.

    5. They’re deporting foreigners without due process.

    Again, nothing new and unrelated to Trump’s EO. In most cases only an immigration judge can order a deportation. But if the foreign traveler waives their rights by signing something called a “Stipulated Removal Order,” or takes “voluntary departure,” agreeing to leave the country, they could be deported without a hearing. Some people choose to give up their green cards voluntarily at the airport for a variety of reasons by signing a form I-407. There are both good reasons and bad reasons for signing such documents.

    That said, most people who aren’t allowed into the U.S. at the airport are not actually deported. They are removed, or denied entry. The words have specific legal meanings and trigger different levels of rights. Standard denials of entry are considered administrative actions and do not typically allow for court appearances or lawyers.

    6. A traveler was denied boarding by the airline when they tried to leave a foreign country. Do the airlines enforce American law now?

    Sort of. Airlines are responsible for the passengers they board. If a passenger is denied entry into the U.S. for any reason, the airline typically faces the costs of returning the passenger to a country abroad. So if someone from Syria is boarded by Lufthansa in Frankfurt and refused entry to the U.S. in Boston, Lufthansa can be held financially responsible. So, it is in the airlines’ best interests to follow U.S. immigration law.

    This system is not new with Trump’s EO, though the EO does establish new criteria for the airlines to follow.

    7. CBP is denying American citizens entry into the U.S.

    Very, very unlikely. Absent some extremely rare and technical issues, or cases where a traveler is misidentified, American citizens are entitled to enter the United States. A person with a U.S. passport is an American citizen for the purposes of entry, even if they hold a passport from another country. Green card holders are not American citizens and remain citizens of their home country. American citizens have always been subject to questioning, temporary detention, and search when entering the U.S. CBP is authorized to conduct searches and detention in accordance with 8 U.S.C. § 1357 and 19 U.S.C. §§ 1499, 1581, 1582.

    8. CBP asked a traveler about their religion, or said they were detained because they were a Muslim, or…

    Anything is possible, but not everything is likely. Actions cannot be taken based on religion, though CBP has always had procedures that allow them to have a traveler remove their head covering. Most airport interactions are under surveillance. CBP officials wear badges with numbers. Asking about religion is potentially grounds for job dismissal, even a civil rights suit. Wrong things do happen, but one should be skeptical about how often it is claimed to have happened. Persons can be asked where they came from (i.e., Sudan.) Human error, or a bad CBP person of course exist, but are in isolation not signs that the “gloves have come off” or that their one-off actions are signs of impending fascism.

    9. I Googled this and…

    Stop. There’s a reason people go to law school. Legal practice at the border is complicated; immigration law is as complex as tax law, and based on a tangle of regulations, practices, court cases, administrative rulings, and the like. Even experienced immigration lawyers differ with one another on how some things work. Other parts of the process are subject to the judgment of CBP officials. Almost anything can be challenged in court, and courts overturn old laws from time to time. So be careful when pronouncing something “unconstitutional” based largely on a Google search, or quoting one lawyer with a client in trouble, or confusing the filing of a lawsuit, or even a temporary stay by a court, as proof of the point you’re trying to make.

    10. Trump can’t do this.

    The answer to this question will take a lot of legal testing to resolve. Generally, however, the Supreme Court acknowledges immigration law’s “plenary power” doctrine, leaving most discretionary decisions in the hands of the executive branch. Legal victories over the original Trump EO were only stays of actions inside American borders, and complied with by the Department of Homeland Security on an exceptional “national interest” basis, not a policy one.

    Yet while precedent seems to favor the administration, there are a lot of issues and a very complex body of law in play with this EO. In particular how/if the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion apply is in contention. Anyone who claims this is simple on any side of the argument is misinformed. However, what is simple is that this is not a constitutional crisis. Tension between the power of executive orders and the power of Congress/the courts is nothing new, and in fact is the cornerstone of the Constitution’s system of checks and balances.

    The opinions here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the Department of State. This is not legal advice. Consult an immigration lawyer before making any immigration, travel or legal decision.


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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      Well as an immigration agent I would want to know for sure if that dog barked in Farsi. If so- he’d be in a holding kennel for interrogation pronto.

      03/9/17 9:20 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      My wolves speak… Howl… But… They are North American Gray’s…. So I guess they would not be detained on those ground… But…. They do look kind of mean… Sneaky… Dangerous… Especially when a puffed up kitty cat is around…

      Peter… Love the disclaimer.. Sucks that the world as it is now… Requires such.


      03/9/17 9:55 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Peter- any advice? If an ordinary US citizen wanted to emigrate say to Somalia, Yemen, Chad or Mali what would be the best approach? Would the State Department help? What are the chances of a successful cultural assimilation after perhaps an air drop D.B Cooper style over Mali?

      03/9/17 1:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      I know you will get this….. Bruce, yep… Think so….

      After having a moment to surf the news….

      I do believe I am more concerned about the potential of a civil war in the US, now more than any of the Time Obomber was in office.

      So many factions… So intent on doing exactly what is wrong for their nation.

      Just absolutely insane.


      03/9/17 1:54 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      The D’s infiltrated the so called Progressive movement and we got Clinton 1 and 2. Now they have co-opted with the resistance movement ( wow, resist)!

      03/9/17 1:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...


      Resist…word of the day….

      Just stay out of Frankfurt.


      03/9/17 3:59 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      I also can see a nasty period ahead for the American Empire. Massive unemployment- no jobs for youth particularly for black youth once McDonalds folds. NBA basketball losing its appeal to white spectators due to it becoming an appendage of gangster rap. Golf and country clubs selling off their courses for McMansion speculators but no one wanting a McMansion. Check out Russia post circa 1991. Will America do any better? Probably not. Lots of porn, lottery fever and dope- that is America’s future in my opinion.

      03/9/17 4:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      Sadly…. I agree with you.


      You left out debtor prisons and continued wars.


      03/9/17 4:18 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      John, Do you know the #’s for tonight in NY?

      03/9/17 4:52 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Mitch- of course! To guarantee perpetual cannon fodder for America’s continuing invasions debtors prisons will be very lucrative recruiting stations. Mitch- I don’t play any form of lottery or bet on any activity-sorry.

      03/9/17 5:39 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...


      The Trump plan is just another example of his mentally ill masturbation. It makes the sex pervert feel good but leaves a mess on his hands.

      Marines, semper perversion:

      Marine Corps members have been sharing nude photos of female service members on a private Facebook group called “Marines United,” as Thomas Brennan originally reported. But this extends through every military branch and beyond Facebook, too. It’s also on a web site, called AnonIB, which dates back to at least May 2016 according to Business Insider.

      The damning facts:

      The Facebook group was 30,000 Marine Corps officers strong, and members reportedly encourage each other to commit sexual assault. On the web site, they post requests asking for photographs of specific colleagues’ naked body parts, identifying them by name or where they are stationed.
      After Brennan’s story dropped, many left the Facebook group and found the site, where a Dropbox folder, “Girls of MU” with thousands of photographs inside, was posted in an effort to see the photos before the Facebook group was deleted.
      Up next: The Marine Corps opened an investigation, and they are considering felony charges which would put Marine Corps members in prison for up to seven years, according to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller will brief the House Armed Services Committee next week.

      The big picture: The Pentagon has been criticized in the past for not dealing with sexual assaults. In 2014 Rand Corporation found more than 20,000 service members had been sexually assaulted the previous year. Six times that number reported being sexually harassed, and in some cases the military has kicked out members who report sexual assaults.

      03/9/17 6:42 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      I only gamble with my life… Never my money.

      I keep hoping the “officials ” will wake the hell up.


      03/9/17 7:25 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      And how… Exactly… Do you blame Trump for that?


      See you got over being butt hurt at your categorization.


      03/9/17 7:30 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...


      The only thing one needs to understand that passes from Trump is the shit comes out of both ends. Choke on this Turd, Donald:

      In an interview with Fox News on Thursday night, Vice President Mike Pence said he was not aware either and that he only first heard about it as reports surfaced Thursday that Flynn had registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department earlier this week.

      Fox News’ Bret Baier asked Pence whether he would have “had to fire Flynn anyway”— even if Flynn had not misled him about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US in December — because he was paid over $500,000 “to lobby, essentially, for Turkey” from August to November.

      “Hearing that story today was the first I’d heard of it,” Pence said, adding that he “fully” supported “the decision that President Trump made to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.”

      But Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent Pence a letter on November 18 requesting more information about the potential conflicts of interest posed by Flynn’s lobbying work.

      Cummings sent the letter four days after both The Daily Caller and Politico reported that Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., had been hired to lobby for Turkish interests.

      “Recent news reports have revealed that Lt. Gen. Flynn was receiving classified briefings during the presidential campaign while his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., was being paid to lobby the U.S. Government on behalf of a foreign government’s interests,” Cummings wrote.

      “Lt. Gen. Flynn’s General Counsel and Principal, Robert Kelley, confirmed that they were hired by a foreign company to lobby for Turkish interests, stating: ‘They want to keep posted on what we all want to be informed of: the present situation, the transition between President Obama and President-Elect Trump.’ When asked whether the firm had been hired because of Lt. Gen. Flynn’s close ties to President-elect Trump, Mr. Kelley responded, ‘I hope so.'”

      The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. They were too busy shitting on themselves.

      03/10/17 11:10 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      RIP Lynne Stewart, and thank you and yours.

      03/10/17 1:04 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      “She was the Russians too”. Warren Zevon “Lawyers, Guns And Money”. Excitable Boy (1978) Have a nice day!

      03/10/17 1:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      Flynn should have told Trump. No doubt of that.


      You do realize that this entire situation is a failing all the way to the top, in BOTH administrations, Trump and Obama…. House, Senate… Democrats, Republicans…..

      All of them…. And….. Most especially….

      The intelligence agencies….

      There is no way that everyone one of them did not know… All the way to your girlfriend, Pelosi.


      03/11/17 5:41 AM | Comment Link

    • How the Iraq War came Home & brought us Trump said...


      […] urge to wall Americans off in every way possible. His fervently publicized immigration policies (less new, in reality, than they seemed) should be thought of as part of a project to construct another kind […]

      03/17/17 12:19 AM | Comment Link

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