TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA — Proposals To Restrict Student Visas & Reduce Legal Immigration Will Hurt Economy, National Standing

These articles from today’s Washington Post highlight three “gonzo” immigration proposals driven by the Trump Administration’s white nationalist agenda.

First, the proposal to require nonimmigrant students in the U.S. to apply for annual extensions of stay would roll back the “duration of status program” for students — arguably the single best and most mutually beneficial efficiency move in the history of INS/USCIS. It would also create chaos in student visa programs that not only keep many colleges and universities financially viable, but also fuel American innovation and technological advances in the STEM fields.

Second, proposals to make visa issuance a law enforcement function within the DHS would lead to chaos in the visa issuing program and probably will result in retaliation by other friendly nations. Visas are part of the foreign commerce of the U.S., not a domestic law enforcement program.

Finally, proposals to reduce legal immigration and further restrict legal opportunities for unskilled workers would deprive the U.S. of workers at a time when the growing economy needs them the most. This short-sighted policy would likely lead to the same type of economic stagnation that has plagued EU countries and Japan over the past several decades.

Read the articles here:

Restrictionist policies driven by xenophobia and racism inevitably lead to disaster.



WSJ: After 9th Circuit Modifies Injunction, DHS Resumes Review Of Visa Vetting Procedures!

 Laura Meckler reports in the WSJ:

“WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s travel ban remains on hold due to court rulings, but his administration is resuming a global review of nations that may lead to far more sweeping travel restrictions.

The travel ban aims to stop people from six Muslim-majority countries from coming to the U.S., based on what the White House says are security concerns. The global review will examine every other country to determine whether any should be added to the list. The goal is to compel nations to cooperate more fully with U.S. efforts to vet their citizens, officials say.

The global review was ordered along with the travel ban, and for months, both had been kept on hold by a federal judge in Hawaii. But last week, an appeals court said the administration should be allowed to resume the study, and on Monday night, the court put its ruling into effect.

Now the Department of Homeland Security says it is moving forward.

“The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals finally allows DHS to resume the important work of reviewing the information provided by all countries on their citizens who desire to travel to the United States, to ensure the applicant doesn’t present a security or public safety threat to the U.S.,” said DHS spokesman Dave Lapan. “DHS will undertake a full review of the vetting requirements worldwide in the expectation of raising the global security bar to better protect our nation.”


Read the complete article at the link.

Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for bringing this to my attention.



Former State Department Visa Guru Jeff Gorsky Says Travel Ban Exceeds President’s Statutory Authority — “No Precedent” For This Type Of Overly Inclusive Use!

From Lexis NexIs:

There is, however, another legal argument against the travel ban that does not require looking at evidence outside of the judicial record: The scope of the ban on its face is overly broad and exceeds the president’s legal authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Although the plaintiffs in the Hawaii case posed this argument, at this point none of the courts that have ruled on the legality of the executive order have analyzed this issue. The statutory authority for the travel ban derives from INA Section 212(f), 8 USC 1182(f), which authorizes the president by proclamation to suspend the entry or impose restrictions on the entry of any aliens or class of aliens to the United States. This is not a plenary grant of authority, but requires a finding that the entry of such aliens is “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” A ban that covers an entire nationality based on a concern that a few of those nationals pose a security or criminal threat to U.S. interest exceeds the statutory authority because there is no evidence or reasonable basis to believe that the entry of some or most of the nationals in the ban would be detrimental to U.S. interests.

During my 30-year career at the U.S. Department of State, I was involved in numerous 212(f) determinations. All were supported by carefully drafted memos and cited specific evidence of detriment to U.S. interests. The Trump travel bans do not. There is no dispute that the president has longstanding authority to deny or restrict the admission of certain aliens by proclamation; it is one of the oldest immigration provisions in U.S. law. The first law to authorize the president to limit immigration based on proclamation was the Alien Enemies Acts of 1798, one of the Alien and Sedition Acts enacted in the John Adams administration. That act empowered the president by public proclamation during a state of war to exclude enemy aliens as “necessary for public safety”.

This authority was not invoked until the 20th century, with the advent of World War I. An act of May 22, 1918, provided for the president to establish by proclamation immigration restrictions during a time of war for the purpose of public safety. Based on the Alien Enemies Act and the 1918 act, President Woodrow Wilson made a number of proclamations involving enemy aliens. While not a total ban on admission of aliens with Austrian-Hungarian nationality, these proclamations significantly restricted the admission of these enemy aliens.

This authority was revived during World War II, following the declaration of a national emergency on May 27, 1941. An amendment to the act provided that the president might, upon finding that the interests of the United States required it, impose additional restrictions and prohibitions on the entry into and departure of persons from the United States during the national emergency. This provision was upheld by the Supreme Court in the case United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537.

The 1950 “Report of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” the primary background document on the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, discussed the history of the enemy aliens provisions at length, and concluded that this was a necessary authority. This authority was carried over into Section 212(e) (now f) and Section 215 of the INA.

In the past 35 years, this authority has been used 43 times but never as broad as with Trump’s executive orders. Most actions were limited to officials of foreign governments who engaged in specified policies considered detrimental to U.S. foreign policy or other U.S. interests — not blanket bans based solely on nationality.

The current travel ban, therefore, is unprecedented in its scope. Even if it is accepted that the specified countries pose a threat to the United States, the inclusion in the ban of all nationals from those countries is not reasonable, since there is no evidence that the admission of many or most such aliens would be detrimental to U.S. interests. For example, the ban includes babies and minor children, although they have neither the physical or legal capacity to commit acts of terrorism or criminality that would be detrimental to U.S. interests. While the executive order allows for a case-by-case discretionary waiver for minors, the availability of a discretionary waiver requiring a finding that the admission of such alien “would be in the national interest” does not cure the underlying lack of legal authority under 212(f) to bar persons such as young children who do not pose a credible threat to U.S. interests.

If the president can bar all nationals of a country based on speculative and vague concerns, absent any evidence relating to the specific individual who is barred admission, the president would have virtually absolute authority to bar all aliens from admission to the U.S. Every country in the world, including countries that would not normally be considered to pose a security threat to the U.S., like Japan and the United Kingdom, have some nationals who could theoretically pose a terrorist or criminal threat that could be used as a pretext to ban all nationals from that country. Such sweeping plenary authority does not exist in any other portion of the INA. In the over 200 years in which the president has had authority to limit the admission of aliens by proclamation, no president has ever before claimed this broad an authority.”


In prior lives, I had the pleasure of working with Jeff on a number of issues. Smart guy, nice guy, always very helpful. Doesn’t mean he’s right or wrong on this, but his point makes sense to me.



With Neither Fanfare Nor Commotion, State Department Quietly Implements Enhanced Visa Screening For Many MidEast, African Countries — “Travel Ban Lite”®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

The NY Times Reports:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is making it tougher for millions of visitors to enter the United States by demanding new security checks before giving visas to tourists, business travelers and relatives of American residents.

Diplomatic cables sent last week from Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to all American embassies instructed consular officials to broadly increase scrutiny. It was the first evidence of the “extreme vetting” Mr. Trump promised during the presidential campaign.

The new rules generally do not apply to 38 countries — including most of Europe and longstanding allies like Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea — whose citizens can be speedily admitted into the United States under the visa waiver program. No countries from the Middle East or Africa are part of the program. In 2016, the United States issued more than 10 million visas to foreign visitors.

Even stricter security checks for people from six predominantly Muslim nations remain on hold because federal courts have temporarily blocked President Trump’s travel ban.

But Mr. Trump and his national security team are not waiting to toughen the rules to decide who can enter the United States. Embassy officials must now scrutinize a broader pool of visa applicants to determine if they pose security risks to the United States, according to four cables sent between March 10 and March 17.

That extra scrutiny will include asking applicants detailed questions about their background and making mandatory checks of social media history if a person has ever been in territory controlled by the Islamic State.

Mr. Trump has spoken regularly of his concern about the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” from immigrants. But it is unclear who, exactly, will be targeted for the extra scrutiny since Mr. Tillerson’s cables leave that decision up to security officers at each embassy.

Still, taken together, consular officials and immigration advocates said the administration’s moves will increase the likelihood of denial for those seeking to come to America, and will further slow down a bureaucratic approval process that can already take months or even years for those flagged for extra investigation.

There are legitimate reasons someone might be targeted, such as evidence of a connection to terrorism or crime. But advocates also said they worry about people being profiled for extra scrutiny because of their name or nationality.”


I have suggested before that the whole “Travel Ban” circus was an unnecessary publicity/feed the base/whip up fear and loathing/show ’em who’s in charge stunt.

The Administration almost certainly has the authority to tighten visa screening in specific ways on a case-by-case basis as the Obama Administration and most of its predecessors have done when appropriate to meet specific threats (as opposed to absolute, across the board bans and prohibitions which, even if eventually found legal, obviously raise more difficult and controversial issues.) The Administration appears to be doing now what it could have done earlier.




Here Are All The Official Documents On The “New” Travel Ban From LexisNexis

For the new Executive Order click here:

For other materials from DHS relating to the travel ban click here:





The Hill: N. Rappaport Predicts That Trump Will Have Slam Dunk Win If “Travel Ban” Case Gets To Supremes!

“Two states challenged President Donald Trump’s executive order, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, in a U.S. District Court. The District Court preliminarily ruled in their favor and temporarily enjoined enforcement of the order.

The government appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and filed a motion for an emergency stay to reinstate the order while its appeal from the District Court’s decision proceeds.
The court denied the government’s motion because it was not convinced that the government is likely to prevail on the states’ due process claim when the case is adjudicated on its merits. The court reserved consideration, however, on the states’ religious discrimination claim until the merits of the appeal have been fully briefed.

I have found no merit in the States arguments in support of either of those claims.”


Read Nolan’s complete article at the link which gives his reasons for finding both the Due Process and Religious Discrimination Claims under the Constitution without merit.  Additionally, Nolan wrote an earlier article in The Hill on February 8, 2017, which I inadvertently missed, expanding upon his views of the nature of Presidential authority in this area:

I doubt that this case will reach the Supremes in its current posture for four reasons: 1) the Court generally does not review cases at the TRO stage; 2) with only eight Justices and having split evenly on the last major challenge to Executive Power (involving the Obama Administrations so-called DAPA program) I doubt the Court wants to take this on right now; 3) at the TRO stage, the record is very sparse and the Court often looks through the record for some non-Constitutional basis to avoid sweeping rulings; 4) the Court has complete discretion as to whether to grant review in this situation and does not have to provide any reasons for denying review.

As to the merits, I doubt that the EO as currently drafted can pass constitutional muster. For example, as noted by the 9th Circuit panel, a returning lawful permanent resident alien is entitled to full due process under Supreme Court rulings. Whatever that might mean in the section 212(f) context, it has to involve, at a minimum, a hearing before a quasi- judicial official with some type of Article III judicial review. To the extent that Nolan suggests that the President himself can make such determinations or delegate them to non-quasi-judicial officials I disagree.

Also, someone coming to the U.S. with a positive overseas refugee determination would clearly be entitled to a fundamentally fair forum in which to make claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Indeed, anyone arriving in the United States has such a right.

I recognize the Sierra Leonian example cited by Nolan in his 02/08/17 article, and apparently that case was affirmed by the BIA and the 2d Circuit in unpublished decisions. However, it seems to me that under the CAT, a full due process hearing is required before returning individuals to a country where they might be tortured, even where that country has given “diplomatic assurances” that the individual will not be tortured.  See Khouzam v. Attorney General, 549 F.3d 235 (3d Cir. 2008). I also doubt that withholding of removal, which can be granted to someone arriving at a land border after an order of removal has been entered, really is an “entry” under the INA.

These are just the most glaring examples of the lack of thought, judgement, and legal analysis that went into this ill-advised Executive Order. Haste makes waste. Bad cases make bad law, etc.

I’m inclined to believe, however, that it is likely that a carefully drafted and properly vetted Executive Order which applies only to individuals overseas who have never been admitted to the U.S., and which provides at least some type of “facially legitimate” factual basis to support it (and I don’t mean the idea that prior Congressional and Executive actions on the entirely different issue of whether an individual who was not from one of these countries, but who had visited one of these countries, could come in under a waiver of any visa vetting at all — “visa waiver”) would likely be upheld by the Court.

But, that’s probably not going to happen under this Administration. Indeed, President Trump is making the strongest possible case that our doctrine of separation of powers and the continued existence of our very constitutional republic will require, if anything, an even higher degree of judicial scrutiny of almost all Executive actions. A President who surrounds himself with such obviously unqualified individuals as Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Mike Flynn shows just why the President’s judgement is not to be trusted — on this or almost anything else.

There is a reason why this issue hasn’t come up before in our history. It’s called wise and prudent Executive judgement. And, it’s sorely lacking in this Administration.






American Bar Association Adopts Resolution Opposing President Trump’s Executive Order On Visas & Refugees!
American Bar Association
Communications and Media Relations Division

Release: Immediate

Contact: Karen DeWitt
Phone: 202-662-1502

ABA urges President Trump to withdraw order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries

MIAMI, Feb. 6, 2017 — The American Bar Association urged President Donald Trump today to withdraw the executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the entry of Syrian refugees.

By voice vote, the ABA House of Delegates, the association’s policy-making body, adopted resolution 10C calling on the executive branch to ensure full, prompt, and uniform compliance with court orders addressing the executive order.

The House––made up of 589 members representing state and local bar associations, ABA entities and ABA-affiliated organizations––also urged the administration to take care that all executive orders regarding border security, immigration enforcement and terrorism:

respect the bounds of the U.S. Constitution and due process rights;

not use religion or nationality as a basis for barring an otherwise eligible individual from admission to the United States;

adhere to the U.S.’s international law obligations relating to the status of refugees and to the principle of non-refoulement; and

facilitate a transparent, accessible, fair and efficient system of administering the immigration laws and policies of the United States and ensure protection for refugees, asylum seekers, torture victims and others deserving of humanitarian refuge;

In Resolution 10B, the House also reaffirmed the ABA’s support of legal protection for refugees, asylum seekers, torture victims, and others deserving of humanitarian refuge. It urged Congress to adopt additional legislation to appropriate funds for refugee applications and processing, and mandate that refugees receive an appropriate individualized assessment in a timely fashion that excludes national origin and religion as the basis for making such determination.

The association’s policy-making body discussion took place at the James L. Knight Center of the Hyatt Regency Miami. The session concluded the 2017 ABA Midyear Meeting, which began Feb. 1.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.

If you would rather not receive future communications from American Bar Association, let us know by clicking here.
American Bar Association, 321 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654-7598 United States


Thanks to my good friend Dan Kowalski over at Lexis Nexis for forwarding this to me.



N. Rappaport In HuffPost: Visa Restrictions Under President Trump’s EO Might Expand!

Nolan writes in HuffPost:

“Too much attention is being paid to a 90-day travel ban in President Donald Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (Order). While it is a serious matter, the temporary suspension of admitting aliens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen into the United States is just the tip of the iceberg. Other provisions in the Order may cause much more serious consequences.

Section 3(a) of the Order directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of State (DOS) and the Director of National Intelligence, to determine what information is needed “from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) 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.” This applies to all countries, not just the seven that are subject to the 90-day suspension.

Those officials have 30 days from the date of the Order to report their “determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information (emphasis supplied).”

Section 3(d) directs the Secretary of State to “request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.” Section 3(e) explains the consequences of failing to comply with this request. Note that this also applies to all countries, not just the seven that are subject to the 90-day delay.

(e) After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, …) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs (emphasis supplied).
This is far more serious than the 90-day ban on immigration from the seven designated countries. With some exceptions, President Trump is going to stop immigration from every country in the world that refuses to provide the requested information. And this ban will continue until compliance occurs.”


If this happens, there are likely to be more challenges, and more work for lawyers. Could President Trump turn out to be the best thing that has happened to the U.S. legal profession lately? Stay tuned.



NYT: Administration Will Allow Iraqi Interpreters To Enter After All — Pentagon Comes To The Rescue Of U.S. War Allies

“BAGHDAD — The Trump administration amended its visa ban on Thursday to allow emigration by the families of Iraqi interpreters who served the United States government and military forces deployed in their country.

The change, recommended by the Pentagon, eased some of the anger generated in Iraq by President Trump’s executive order imposing the ban, which has stoked anxiety and confusion around much of the world since it was issued last week.

The order temporarily blocked all Syrian refugees from entering the United States and suspended visas for applicants from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq. It applied to holders of so-called Special Immigrant Visas issued to interpreters who worked for the United States during its 2003-11 occupation, often at great personal risk, and to their families.

In a statement about the change sent to The New York Times, a United States Embassy official in Baghdad said, “The U.S. government has determined that it is in the national interest to allow Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (S.I.V.) holders to continue to travel to the United States.” Iraqis who have received the visas, the statement said, may use them, and the “U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will continue to process and issue S.I.V.s to applicants who are otherwise qualified.”


Wow! Why didn’t they just say that in the first place? Would have saved lots of trouble, heartache, and very bad publicity for the U.S. and the Administration. But, better late than never, I guess.




BREAKING: NYT: Tillerson New Secretary Of State!

The NYT reports:

“WASHINGTON — Rex W. Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a 56 to 43 vote to become the nation’s 69th secretary of state just as serious strains have emerged with important international allies.

The many votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation made his selection among the most contentious for a secretary of state in recent history, and he takes his post just as many traditional American allies are questioning the policies of President Trump. In the past 50 years, the most contentious confirmations for secretary of state were those of Condoleezza Rice in 2005, who passed by a vote of 85 to 13, and Henry Kissinger in 1973, who was confirmed 78 to 7.

Mr. Trump is the most unapologetically nationalistic president of the modern era who has questioned the value of many of the alliances and multilateral institutions that the United States has nurtured since World War II to keep world order.”

How Mr. Tillerson’s translates Mr. Trump’s vow of “America First” into the kind of polite diplomatic parlance that will maintain vital alliances will be a significant test.”


Among Secretary Tillerson’s most Important duties as Secretary of State will be supervising the visa issuance process under the Immigration and Nationality Act, dealing with the foreign policy implications of U.S. immigration and refugee policies, negotiating international treaties, and overseeing the preparation of the U.S. Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Conditions which are an important source of background information used in deciding many cases in Immigration Court and at the DHS Asylum Office as well as a tool used by refugee adjudicators in other nations that are signatories to the 1952 U.N. Refugee Convention.

Human Rights is also (or at least has been up until now) an important focus for the Secretary.  And, the Administration’s inclination to turn its back on the African continent because there is “nothing in it for us” (after all, what’s the value of saving thousands of human lives compared to profit making business opportunities  — America First — Humanity, why bother?) But, at some point, Secretary Tillerson is likely to discover that the Administration’s short-sighted dismissive attitude toward 1.3 billion of the earth’s inhabitants will come back to haunt him (and us).