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Trump’s Refugee Ban Ends as White House Preps New Screening Rules

PBS reports that President Trump’s March 6, 2017, Executive Order, which included a four-month worldwide ban on refugees entering the United States, expired today. Refugees seeking entry to the United States will now face what officials have described as a more stringent and thorough examination of their backgrounds, in line with the Trump “extreme vetting” policy for immigrants. AILA has also provided updated Talking Points on President Trump’s September 24, 2017, proclamationrestricting travel to the United States by foreign nationals from certain countries, including information on litigation blocking certain aspects of the proclamation

The Council Files Lawsuit Challenging CBP’s Unlawful Practice of Turning Away Asylum Seekers

The American Immigration Council, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Latham and Watkins, LLP, filed a class action lawsuit challenging U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) unlawful practice of turning away asylum seekers who present themselves at ports of entry along the U.S. border with Mexico. The individual plaintiffs endured arduous journeys to the U.S. border, and their experiences demonstrate that CBP uses a variety of tactics to deny bona fide asylum seekers the opportunity to pursue their claims.

Trump Expected to Issue Executive Order on Visa Screening/Issuance and Refugee Resettlement Tomorrow

President Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, that would suspend the issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of “countries of particular concern,” stop refugee admissions for 120 days, add requirements for screenings and procedures for all immigration benefits, halt Syrian refugee processing indefinitely, and suspend the visa interview waiver program, among other things.

Associated Press: U.S. Citizen Born in Refugee Camp Sues to Marry

The Associated Press reports that a 31-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in an Indonesian refugee camp filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday to challenge a newly amended Louisiana law that blocked him from obtaining a marriage license because he couldn’t produce a birth certificate. The law requires any foreign-born person wanting to get married in Louisiana to produce both a birth certificate and an unexpired visa or a passport from their country of birth. The suit alleges that the law violates the plaintiff’s constitutional rights and was intended to discriminate against foreign-born individuals.

Federal Judge Rejects request to bar Syrians

A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday rejected a request from Texas for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to bar nine Syrian refugees from being resettled in Houston. U.S. District Court Judge David Godbey ruled that Texas had “failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists intent on causing harm.

OBAMA will VETO denial of Refugees

An article in Marketplace reports that the White House is warning Congress that President Obama would veto a bill that calls for additional background checks on Syrian refugees. The administration noted that there are already stringent background checks for refugees, and that more would only cause unnecessary delays.

Presentation of Case for Refugee Status

Case Presentation to the INS

The steps that refugee applicants follow before their eligibility interviews with BCIS officers vary. Many applicants are referred to the United States Refugee Program (USRP) for resettlement consideration by officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while a smaller number are referred by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Other applicants are eligible to apply for the USRP directly because they are of nationalities designated as being of special humanitarian concern and in processing priorities eligible for resettlement consideration. Generally, voluntary agencies or the Joint Voluntary Agency (JVA) representatives conduct pre-screening interviews and prepare cases for submission to BCIS ; they complete the required forms and compile any necessary documents. In the in-country processing programs, applicants usually register their interest in refugee resettlement by mailing completed preliminary questionnaires to the appropriate processing entity. However, if there is insufficient evidence, it could ultimately be denied by the Court of Appeal. If the foreign national has not received residency in a third country, then they can apply to the U.S. For example, if Canada denied asylum to a foreign national, then they can apply to the U.S.

Eligibility Determination

Eligibility for refugee status is decided on an individual, or case-by-case, basis. A personal interview of the applicant is held by an BCIS officer. The interview is non-adversarial and is designed to elicit information about the applicant’s claim for refugee status.

The BCIS officer must determine whether the applicant has suffered past persecution, or has a well-founded fear of future persecution, on the basis of political opinion, religion, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. This determination requires the examination of objective and subjective elements of an applicant’s claim. Conditions in the country of origin are taken into consideration and the applicant’s credibility is assessed. BCIS refugee determinations are made according to a uniformly applied worldwide standard. Generally, all refugee applicants, with certain exceptions, are subject to the same adjudication criteria.

Legislation has altered the refugee adjudication process in certain cases. The Lautenberg Amendment (a provision of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for Fiscal years 1990 through 1994 and subsequently extended) mandated that the Attorney General identify categories of former Soviets (specifically Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics, and Ukrainian Orthodox), Vietnamese, Lao, and Khmer, who are likely targets of persecution. Under this legislation, a category applicant may establish a well-founded fear of persecution by asserting a fear of persecution and asserting a credible basis for concern about such fear.

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), the definition of refugee was expanded to include persons who have resisted or been subjected to, or have a well-founded fear of being subjected to coercive population control measures.

Post BCIS Interview Processing

After the BCIS interview, those applicants who are found eligible for refugee status must satisfy medical and security criteria and must be assigned a sponsor assurance. A refugee admission number is allocated to the applicant and is then subtracted from the annual ceiling. Transportation arrangements are made through the International Organization for Migration (IOM). If the refugee is unable to finance his or her transportation costs, the refugee may be eligible for a travel loan, whereby he or she must agree to repay the cost of airfare.

At the port of entry, BCIS admits the refugee to the United States and authorizes employment. After one year, a refugee is eligible for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. Five years after admission, a refugee is eligible for naturalization to U.S. citizenship.

There are numerous immigration laws that could result in the denial of this visa if not properly prepared.  If the petition is put together correctly and professionally by a qualified immigration law firm, the chances of approval is greatly increased.

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