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President Trump’s Recent Actions on Immigration and What They Mean

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On January 25 and 27, President Trump signed a series of Executive Orders by which he seeks to change some of the United States government’s immigration policies. We expect that he may modify or explain these initial actions, and that he may make new policy changes, but we have attempted to explain what the January actions mean for immigrants.


Ban on Entry from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia                                                                                     President Trump’s January 27 Executive Order institutes a 90-day ban on entry to the United States for visa holders who are citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. Green card holders may be able to enter the country after extra security checks at the airport. However, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) still reserved discretion to allow or deny entry to green card holders from the aforementioned countries on a case-by-case basis. Non-citizens present in the United States should not travel to these seven countries or they will be at risk of not being allowed to re-enter the U.S. on the return. Additionally, citizens of these seven countries should not travel out of the U.S. at this time.

120 Day Suspension of Our Refugee Program                                                                                                                                      The January 27 executive order places a 120-day halt on the refugee program. This means that the United States will not be accepting any refugees for resettlement until approximately the end of May, 2017, at the earliest, including refugees from Syria.

The President’s Priorities for Removing Immigrants Present in the United States                                                             Additionally, in the Executive Orders, President Trump listed the following categories of immigrants within the country, including some who currently have a lawful status, as priority for removal:

  • Persons with any criminal conviction(s);
  • Persons with pending criminal charges;
  • Persons who have “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense”;
  • Persons believed by immigration officers to pose a threat to public safety or national security;
  • Persons who have a final order of removal;
  • Persons who have engaged in fraud/misrepresentation in applications to government, or who have “abused” public benefits (this could include those who have used a fake Social Security Number); and
  • Those who are undocumented

General Recommendations                                                                                                                                                                    At this time, we advise those with a lawful status or work authorization to make several copies of their documents and make sure to carry a copy of these documents with them at all times. We also recommend that people have a copy of their documents at home or somewhere easily accessible by loved ones.

We also advise that those without status, who have been in the U.S. for more than two years, start to gather documents to prove physical presence in the U.S. for at least two years (examples include entry documents, rent payments, birth certificates of U.S. citizen born children, hospital records, children’s school records and medical records, and junk mail).

If you are already in an immigration court process, you still have the right to have an immigration judge hear your case and decide if you can stay in the United States.

Because the President’s policy announcements did not have much detail, there is still a lot that is unknown about how these new policies will be implemented. We want to stress the importance of seeking out competent legal counsel at this time. Low-income immigrants are eligible to obtain free legal advice from our office. To schedule a consultation, please call 718-236-3000 in Brooklyn or 347-472-3500 in Queens.

Catholic Migration Services is a non-profit organization that offers free immigration, employment, and housing legal services to Brooklyn and Queens residents. Please continue to visit for further updates and important information about the government’s immigration policies.

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Statement of Catholic Migration Services in Response to the President’s Jan. 2017 Executive Orders on Immigration

Catholic Migration Services opposes any laws or government policies that discriminate against people based on their race, religion, or national origin, and we are committed to supporting the rights of all immigrants to have due process in their efforts to secure and retain lawful status in our country. We believe the January 25 and 27 Executive Orders issued by the President unfairly target Muslims and other immigrants, in violation of these fundamental principles of fairness and equality. Among other harms that these Orders have and will continue to cause, they will prevent United States residents from reuniting with family members currently abroad, and close our borders to refugees fleeing life-threatening conditions in Syria and elsewhere. As an organization that is firmly committed to “welcoming the stranger in our midst,” we strongly disagree with these Executive Orders. Our nation can and must do better in demonstrating the compassion towards those seeking political, economic or social refuge that is a hallmark of our country’s history.

In the face of these government actions, Catholic Migration Services is hard at work assisting immigrants in the Brooklyn and Queens communities. Among other efforts, Catholic Migration Services is:

  • Helping hundreds of immigrants obtain visas, lawful permanent resident status, and citizenship. The Executive Orders complicate, but do not eliminate, the rights of immigrants to obtain lawful status. In fact, on January 28th, at a workshop held at the offices of the Brooklyn Borough President, Catholic Migration Services helped more than 90 lawful permanent residents fill out applications to naturalize and become citizens, while meeting with an additional 75 individuals who were considering naturalization.
  • Defending immigrants from deportation. Our attorneys represent scores of immigrants facing deportation, but who may have a valid basis to stay in our country and achieve lawful status, such as by gaining political asylum.
  • Informing immigrants about their rights. Catholic Migration Services will be distributing information in print and at live informational sessions in the Brooklyn and Queens communities to provide reliable information about changes in the immigration laws and their enforcement.
  • Warning immigrants about scams and frauds. Sadly, many unscrupulous immigration service providers see times like this as an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable immigrants by scaring them into paying thousands of dollars for immigration services that at best will produce no benefit, and at worst can lead to deportation. Our attorneys are meeting with community groups to warn them about these fraudulent schemes.

For more information about how to access our services, or for more information about how you an support our work, please continue to visit

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