Trumps’ Executive Order (on protecting the US from foreign terrorists) could also affect Filipinos

Trumps’ Executive Order (on protecting the US from foreign terrorists) could also affect Filipinos

On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Among the EO’s more controversial provisions are:

  • a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country;
  • an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria; and
  • a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (later modified to allow immigrants/green cardholders from these seven countries to continue to return to the US.)

While the EO primarily focuses on terrorism and controlling entry of people from Muslim countries, there are other provisions of that EO which could affect Filipinos in applying for visas or seeking entry into the US. In particular, there is to be a comprehensive review of  “information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA . . . in order to determine  that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public safety threat.” There will be more focus/emphasis on identifying people, and making sure they will not enter the US under an assumed named passport  (or the passport of some other person with their photo).

Another provision of the EO is the government will “implement a program, as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits, to identify individuals seeking to enter the US on a fraudulent basis . . .” As part of this program of screening people, there will be in–person interviews and “a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants. . .” Many Filipinos entered the US on photo–substituted passports, and then mailed the passport back to the agency, who re–used that same passport for another client. Or, sometimes people submit manufactured land titles or tax returns purchased from Recto Street in applying for visitor visas.  The person who sold them that document may have used the same tax return or land title many times in the past. This new program may detect that the same document has been used in the past.

The EO also calls for DHS to “expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry–exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States. . .” Currently, people are fingerprinted and photographed when they enter the US, but there really is no similar tracking system for when they leave the US. Now, upon exiting the US, people may again be fingerprinted and photographed. If they came to visit and were given six months, there may be an alert that pops up in Homeland Security’s computers, that there is no evidence the person left, in which case Homeland Security may take steps to track them down and possibly place them in removal proceedings.

The EO will also “immediately suspend the visa interview waiver program,” and instead require that “all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in–person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.” In other words, no more drop-box renewal of visas.

As you can see, when Trump campaigned, he stated he would get tough on immigration, but many people thought it was only campaign talk, and he would change once elected. But these EO’s demonstrate he means business, and is really cracking down on people who overstay, or committed fraud in obtaining visas or entry to the US. That is why it is important that anyone who has immigration issues or problems, should seek the assistance of an attorney to help or represent them, versus trying to do it on their own.

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