Friday, February 3, 2017

Trump travel ban temporarily halted nationwide; a legal blog discusses USCIS and asylum seekers now; GOP Catholic hosts Muslim refugees in Virginia

First, a federal judge (James Robart) in Seattle has temporarily stayed Donald Trump’s Executive Order travel ban, as in this Washington Post story.  Earlier a Boston judge had declined to stay the order, and there are at least four states in play (Reuters).

At this point, it is a little uncertain what this means.  Conceivably, affected people could have to reapply for visas.  But the state of Washington could apply to get the visas reinstated.

It would appear that the administration will appeal.  There has been some concern that Trump could create a constitutional crisis by following the Boston judge instead.

Earlier this evening, I had found a blog posting by DC immigration attorney Justin Dzubow.  Note the paragraph, “People from countries of particular concern waiting for an immigration benefit.”  The posting suggests that USCIS is probably not granting asylum right now, but will allow asylum applications to remain in place so most likely the asylees remain here legally.

There could be complications if sanctuary cities lose funding for service organizations (like HIV clinics) if asylum seekers might use.  It’s possible that later immigrants (including asylum seekers who have been allowed to resume benefits) could be subject to deportation if their use of public funds exceeds some threshold, and it’s not clear if the president alone could order this.  That could beg the question of setting up private sponsorship systems (including for asylum seekers) like what Canada has.

(On Feb. 2 Dzubow added a comment that several more countries could be added to the list of countries of particular concern:  Egypt, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Philippines, Venezuela, Colombia. Philippines is of concern because the print-on-demand industry uses services in Philippines.   The countries are chosen largely on the basis of the stability of their governments and of our relations with them, not on the basis of past terror attacks in the US; but some of the countries have been connected to attacks in Europe.)

While the idea appeals to our idea of charity and morality, some will argue that they could inadvertently add to security risk, abetting the possible formation of sleeper cells.

Some observers note that absolute travel bans by country may violate the Geneva Convention, which I remember from my Army Basic at Fort Jackson in 1968.  Trump has never been in the military (although he went to military high school).

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Amazon headquarters in Seattle (SounderBruce, CCSA 2.0).

Update: Feb. 4

Trump is appealing to the Ninth circuit.

Rick Sincere passed a long a story Ashley McKinnes in "America: The Jesuit Review":  "Meet my Dad: the Republican who's hosting Muslim refugees" in his northern Virginia home (from Afghanistan). As I have explored elsewhere, there is legal uncertainty and risk in doing this right now.  Is this a matter of "faith"?

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