Since riding down the escalator to announce his candidacy for President, Trump has tried to change the policies and laws concerning people who are not citizens of the US. His attempts have, for the most part, failed because there are federal judges willing to rule against him when lawsuits challenging those attempts were filed.
In January and March 2017, Trump signed executive orders trying to ban all Muslims from entering the US. Judges in the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals ruled that those orders were unconstitutional and granted restraining orders until the Supreme Court, in June 2018, entered a decision that the third executive order could be enforced pending a decision of the Ninth Circuit on the substance of the lawsuit in Hawaii. The third executive order limited the travel ban to citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries and included waivers for those persons with valid visas so that they could enter the US.
Trump also tried to end the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in September 2017 through an executive order. Once again, the federal court system stopped this action. Most recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in November 2018 that he does not have the power to end DACA by executive order. The Citizenship and Immigration Service (“CIS”) has been accepting renewal of DACA status based on the federal court orders while the Trump administration waits for the Supreme Court to accept their appeal and allow them to argue the case for ending DACA.
The spring and summer of 2018 became a nightmare for families entering the US and filing for asylum. The “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting everyone who entered the US and separating minor children from their parents (to include infants who were being breastfed) demonstrated that this administration is willing to stoop to extreme behavior. Housing minor children in tent cities to suffer through the summer heat of Texas and Arizona summer is not the behavior of a country which is a signatory to international treaties advocating for the right of all persons to seek refuge and apply for asylum. In October 2018, Trump claimed that there was an “invasion” in referring to the caravan of desperate people walking over 1,000 miles to apply for asylum at the Mexico / US border. The drumbeat for exclusion of those people and to limit eligibility for asylum to as few as possible mysteriously ended on November 6th, 2018, once the mid-term elections were held.
Temporary protected status (“TPS”) was another target for elimination from the policy of the US immigration law. However, federal courts did not view the ending of TPS as being justified and actually violating the letter of law as it is currently written. The Ninth Circuit entered a preliminary injunction in October 2018 ordering the CIS to continue the TPS programs for those countries where TPS holders had been registered (in some cases for over 30 years).
The current administration has made it clear that they do not want anyone to emigrate to the US unless they are well-educated, fluent in English, and come from countries in northern Europe. All others should remain in their country of birth, no matter what happens in that country and no matter what benefit under US immigration law for which they may be eligible, to include asylum and refugee status. One wonders when the Statue of Liberty will be returned to France, with a note saying, “No thank you. We do not need this anymore.”
- Linda A. Dominguez is the founder of L A Dominguez Law, which opened its doors in March 2006. The focus of the firm is on immigration law and LGBTQ issues. Linda has been practicing law since November 1989 and spent more than 16 years as a federal prosecutor. She is licensed in Maryland, Pennsylvania, as well as being admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 3rd, 4th, and 7th Circuits, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Linda has one precedent decision issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Cordova v. Holder, 759 F.3d 332 (4th Cir. 2014), on an asylum case from El Salvador.