travel ban

Trump Administration Travel Ban Impacts More Than 31,000 People

By Peek & Toland on November 16, 2019

According to a recent CNN article, the State Department has announced that the Trump Administration’s travel ban has resulted in the denial of entry to more than 31,000 people as of September 14, 2019. The travel ban in effect, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in June 2018, affects primarily Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as North Korea and Venezuela. This version of the travel ban has been in effect since the Supreme Court failed to prevent it from going into effect in December 2017.

The State Department also reported that it had issued more than 7,600 waivers. During the first 11 months of the ban, however, only 5.9% of visa applicants were given a waiver, with another 25% remaining in administrative processing.

Trump Administration Travel Ban Impacts More Than 31,000 People

When the ban went into effect, the number of immigrant visas that the federal government issued to citizens of the Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban dropped sharply. The government issued over 1,400 such visas in December 2017, but in January 2018, that number fell to 69. Although numbers have increased, they remain abnormally low. For instance, the federal government issued over 6,600 immigrant visas to foreign nationals of Iran in 2017. In 2018, the government issued only 537 such visas to individuals born in Iran.

Democratic lawmakers recently held a three-hour hearing to obtain these statistics and slam government officials over the results of the ban. Democrats claim that the ban was solely to carry out campaign promises to ban all Muslims from entering the country, not for national security purposes.

Back in April 2019, the Democrats introduced a bill known as the “No Ban Act” in the House and Senate that would overturn the ban. However, the GOP-controlled Senate is not likely to approve the bill.

An experienced Texas immigration attorney can help you with all aspects of immigration law. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and present your options. Finally, we can help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

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More than A Year After the Travel Ban The Issue is Mired in Court Proceedings

By Peek & Toland on March 28, 2018

President Donald Trump’s travel ban first issued in January 2017 caused widespread confusion and panic at airports. More than a year after the travel ban, the issue is still bogged down in the courts.

The Supreme Court is likely to finally weigh in on the legality or otherwise of the ban this year.  It allowed the executive order to fully go into effect in early December while federal judges in the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 9th and 4th Circuits mull whether to halt enforcement of the third travel ban.

The Trump administration issued revised bans throughout 2017. They were routinely challenged.

In November, the Trump administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to fully enact the travel ban after an appeals court in California ruled that only parts of it could go into effect.  The White House argued the latest ban “is based on national-security and foreign-affairs objectives, not religious animus,” according to Reuters. 

Courts are involved a year after the travel ban

More than a year after the travel ban uncertainty remains

A ban that was announced on Sept. 24 replaced two previous bans that were blocked in the federal courts.

The administration won a partial victory in November when the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled the Trump administration could bar the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries with no U.S. connections.

The court ruled the administration’s travel ban would only apply to people originating from Iran, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Chad and Somalia with no connections to the U.S.

The administration’s latest ban was announced on Sept. 24, replacing two previous versions that had been blocked by federal courts.  North Korea and Venezuela were added to the ban.

However, many of those the administration sought to ban have connections to the United States.

The connections are defined as relationships linked to families and formal, documented relationships with American entities like universities and resettlement agencies.

People with family relationships permitting entry to the country include grandchildren, brothers-in-law, grandparents, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people living here in the United States.

Trump’s first travel ban targeting a group of Muslim-majority was issued just a week after he took office in January. He issued a revised six-month plan after the first ban was blocked by the courts. The second one expired in September following a protracted legal fight and was replaced with another revised version.

Also in November, an internal watchdog report detailed the chaos and lack of planning inherent in the first travel ban.

A report by the DHS inspector general revealed that the leaders of Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency mean to implement the order had virtually no warning an order was to be issued or of its scope and was “caught by surprise,” NPR reported.

The early hours of the travel ban were marked by airport protests, along with delays and confusion until a court injunction was imposed, reported NPR.

If you have been impacted by a travel ban, you should consult an experienced Austin immigration lawyer. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Supreme Court Gives the Go Ahead to Trump Travel Ban

By Peek & Toland on February 17, 2018

The Trump travel ban was one of the most contentious executive orders of 2017. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court finally allowed the ban to proceed pending more detailed legal challenges.

The justices allowed the third Trump travel ban to take full effect pending appeal.

It was the first time justices allowed the ban to go forward in its entirety. CNN reported the decision indicated the justices might be distinguishing the third version from previous iterations and might be more likely, in the future, to rule in favor of the ban.

The first two bans were derailed in the courts following claims they were discriminatory against Muslims.

The initial Trump travel ban was targeted at seven predominantly Muslim countries.

After President Trump’s first order was blocked in the courts, he signed the second one, imposing a ban on travelers from Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days. Iraq was removed from the original list. Once again, all of the countries were majority Muslim.

Court backs Trump travel ban

The Trump travel ban wins a partial victory

The third travel ban included some non-Muslim majority nations. It banned various types of travelers from Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela.

Lower courts again blocked the third ban issued in the fall of 2017.

The U.S. Supreme Court order was greeted as a significant temporary win for the Trump administration. The ban can be enforced while challenges to the policy make their way through the legal system

The White House has maintained the ban is not discriminatory against Muslims and is in the interests of national security. Solicitor General Noel Francisco stated:

“The Constitution and acts of Congress confer on the President broad authority to prevent aliens abroad from entering this country when he deems it in the nation’s interest.”

The challenges against the travel ban continue on two fronts.

In a case in Hawaii case, a district court judge has blocked the ban as it pertains to Venezuela and North Korea. However, a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals partially lifted that court’s order.

The appeals court permitted the ban to go into effect for all individuals from the two counties except for foreign nationals with a “bona fide” relationships with people or entities in the United States.

In a separate challenge in Maryland brought by the International Refugee Assistance Project, a US District Court Judge Theodore D issued a similar order partially enjoining the ban in the case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ban impacts different counties in slightly different ways, reported ABC news.

In relation to Venezuela, it only applies to the entry of certain Venezuelan government officials and immediate family members who arrive in the U.S. as non-immigrants on business. Tourist and business-tourist visas were also suspended,

In relation to Iran, entry into the country of Iranians as immigrants and as non-immigrants is suspended, except under valid student or exchange visitor visas. Even visa applicants are subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.

If you have been impacted by travel bans or other restrictions, it may make sense to talk to an experienced Austin immigration lawyer. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Trump’s Re-Tweeting of Anti-Muslim Material Could Harm Travel Ban Case

By Peek & Toland on February 10, 2018

Last November, U.S. President Donald Trump courted international condemnation when he tweeted details of right-wing anti-Muslim hate videos from the United Kingdom. Critics warned the action could further sour international relations and harm Trump’s travel ban case.

The re-tweet was of information originally posted by Jayda Fransen, an activist with a reputation for anti-Muslim extremism in the United Kingdom.

It came at a time when the President was seeking to claim his travel ban that was held up in the courts was not anti-Muslim.One of the central arguments against Trump’s travel ban was it took aim at Muslim countries so was motivated by a prejudice against Islam.

Lawyers for the Trump administration argued it was motivated by genuine national security reasons.

Travel ban case could be harmed by tweet

Could re-tweet harm travel ban case

Although Trump’s re-tweet caused an international outcry and drew a stiff rebuke from Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, it did not harm the travel ban at that time.

Just days later, the United States Supreme Court upheld the third and latest version of the Trump administration’s travel ban on Dec. 4. However, the court is due to make a final decision in 2018.

The decision restricts most citizens of Libya, Iran, Chad, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and North Korea, as well as some from Venezuela, from entering the United States.

The move legitimized the third ban published in September. It paved the way for restrictions that will bar citizens of the named countries from immigrating to as well as working, studying, or even vacationing in, the United States.

The nine-member U.S Supreme court granted the Trump administration’s request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts. These partially blocked the ban – the third version of a contentious policy that Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January. Two liberal justices dissented.

Trump promised as a candidate to impose a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

The administration later backtracked on claims the ban targeted Muslims and added some non-Muslim nations like North Korea to the list on the ban.

If you or a family member is impacted by the travel ban please call Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.


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Government Appeals to U.S. Supreme Court over Travel Ban

By Peek & Toland on October 26, 2017

The Trump administration has sought to impose two travel bans against predominantly Muslim countries. Both have been challenged in the courts and held up. Now the revised travel ban will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In June a second federal appeals court held up the revised travel ban, reported Bloomberg. The Supreme Court took up the case and allowed some parts of it to go ahead, reported The New York Times.

A report on NBC News stated the Trump administration saw the U.S. Supreme Court as offering the best hope of granting what the lower courts have so far denied — permission to implement the president’s executive order on travel.

U.S. Supreme Court to consider travel ban

The Travel Ban will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court

The government filed papers in early June appealing to the justices of the highest court in the land to take up its appeal.

It also wants to be allowed to enforce the contentious travel ban while the court decides whether to it will a full argument later on the legal merits of the case.

The NBC report said the Trump administration has some grounds for optimism. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court is back at full strength with the arrival of Neil Gorsuch, it is the most conservative body to consider the travel bans to date. The court has a reputation for deferring to presidents on national security issues.

However, the highest court in the land faces a tight timetable to consider the travel ban.

The initial travel ban that followed an executive order in February caused chaos at airports. Travel was blocked from seven mainly Muslim countries.

After President Donald Trump’s first order was blocked in the courts, the president signed the second one, imposing a ban on travel from Sudan, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days. Iraq was removed from the original list.

During the travel ban period, the federal government was to assess the reliability of background information from the six countries that the State Department relies on to evaluate whether to issue a visa.

The second ban was also blocked by the courts. The order has never been enforced and the government faces an uphill task to persuade the justices it will be permanently harmed if it can’t start enforcement right away.

NBC spoke to Prof. Steve Vladeck, a federal courts expert at the University of Texas at Austin.

He said in June it could take months before the U.S. Supreme Court conducts a full hearing into the executive order’s legality. He said:

“It’s going to weigh heavily on the minds of the justices just what it would mean to put the order into effect now, especially when we’re looking at such a lag time on when the court might hear courtroom argument.”

The original travel ban was intended to prevent refugees from the affected countries for 120 days. In the chaos after the ban even some green card holders were affected.

The swift intervention of the courts meant normality resumed quickly, but long-term concerns linger for visa holders and other people from the impacted countries who live and work in the United States.

If you been impacted by federal reforms in the immigration system, please contact our experienced Texas immigration lawyers here.

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Trump’s Travel Ban – What the Supreme Court Must Consider

By Peek & Toland on September 23, 2017

President Donald Trump’s Travel Ban is heading to the Supreme Court in October after months of legal hearings. It is likely to be one of the most important cases the new look Supreme Court will decide.

In June, the highest court in the land allowed some parts of the travel ban to go ahead pending its hearing.

The court permitted the ban to go into effect for foreign nationals who lack a “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

In an unsigned opinion the court, left Trump’s travel ban against citizens of six majority-Muslim countries on hold as it related to non-citizens who had relationships with people or entities in the United States. This included most of the plaintiffs’ cases brought against the travel ban.

Examples of formal relationships include employees who accepted a job with a company in the US, and students accepted to universities in the United States, the court said.

Trump's Travel Ban is before the Supreme Court

Trump’s Travel Ban Will be held by the U.S. Supreme Court

The original travel ban caused chaos at airports in January when Trump issued an executive order. That ban was later suspended by the courts. A revised ban removed Iraq from the list of majority Muslim counties it affected and softened some of the other aspects.

Most reports suggest the partial implementation of the travel ban in the summer caused considerably less disruption than the original ban.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Adam Chilton and Genevieve Lakier, assistant professors of law at the University of Chicago Law School outlined the issues the justices will need to get to grips with when they consider the travel ban in October.

The justices will consider whether the president exceeded his constitutional authority.

Chilton and Lakier wrote the justices will have an opportunity to consider the long-standing legal principle known as the “plenary power doctrine.”

The doctrine gives the President of the United States and Congress power to take action over immigration law.

The academics argue the hearing would give the court to seize the opportunity to finally rid the legal system of this “outdated doctrine.”

Plenary power can be traced back to 1889 when the highest court in the land unanimously upheld a law barring Chinese laborers from returning to the United States once they left the country. The case has been used to give very broad discretion to politicians over who should be admitted to the United States.

The plenary power doctrine has led to some questionable decisions. It has been used to bar communists from the United States and to uphold laws that make it more difficult for men than women to pass citizenship on to their kids.

Chilton and Lakier argue the plenary power doctrine is outdated and has been used to justify racist decisions.

They said while the lower courts were concerned that Trump’s travel ban was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, they found “creative ways” to argue the ban did not deserve the deference the plenary power doctrine has been given. They concluded:

“It’s easy to understand why: Lower courts do not have the authority to overturn Supreme Court opinions. But the Supreme Court can overturn its own precedents, and it should take this opportunity to squarely reject the plenary power doctrine as both outdated and unnecessary.”

It remains to be seen if the nation’s highest court will overturn this fundamental piece of law.

However, the futures of thousands of people from six countries in the United States hang on the court’s ruling.

If you have been impacted by Trump’s travel ban, it makes sense to talk to an experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Doctor Banned from Returning to the US Sues the Government

By Peek & Toland on May 9, 2017

President Donald Trump’s travel ban of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries was intended to tackle terrorism. However, the case of a Chicago doctor who was unable to return home to the United States, highlighted the wider consequences of January’s action.

Dr. Amer al Homssi said he was “collateral damage” when Trump’s immigration order was issued in January. He ended up stranded in the United Arab Emirates and sued Trump.

After four days in the Middle East, he was allowed to come home, reported the New Yorker.

A Syrian doctor sued over the travel ban

Homssi encountered issues because he is the holder of a Syrian passport. He visited the UAE to get married but when he returned to the airport, the U.S. authorities wrote ‘cancelled’ on his visa and would not let him board the plane.

The doctor works at Christ Hospital in Chicago. He faced losing his medical residency and being returned to Syria if he was not re-admitted to the United States.

More than 30 doctors showed up to an initial court hearing wearing white coats before the doctor was able to return to the United States.

On his return to the United States, Al Homssi had another court date. His attorneys expected him to finalize a settlement that would permit the doctor to stay in the United Sates to complete his residency.

The Courts Block Trump’s Travel Ban

On Feb. 9, a federal appeals court blocked Trump’s contentious travel ban. The President initially vowed to fight it. However, he issued a revised executive order in March that softened the terms of the ban and removed Iraq from the list of affected countries.

The unanimous ruling from the three-judge panel means that citizens of seven mainly Islamic countries were still be able to travel despite Trump’s executive order in January.

The move was a significant setback for the Trump administration and provided a breathing space for nations of the seven countries such as Al Homssi who were at risk of not being allowed back into the country.

There are confusing times for national of other countries who are in the United States whether green card or visa holders.

If you need the help and assistance of an Austin family immigration attorney, do not hesitate to contact us at (512) 474-4445.


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Trump’s Immigration Executive Order -– Should You Travel?

By Peek & Toland on March 16, 2017

Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration issued in January caused widespread chaos at airports and confusion.

Also known as the “travel ban,” the order was meant to keep refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. It would have kept arrivals from seven predominantly Muslim nations out for three months. The countries were Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. The ban on Syrians was intended to be indefinite. The order was derailed in the courts and replaced by a second order in March which removed Iraq from a 90-day travel ban, did not apply to green card holders and did not make Syria the subject of a blanket ban. Syrian refugees would be banned for 120 days, reported NBC News. Visas approved before the order were not revoked.

A Seattle-based federal district judge, James Robart, blocked major parts of the first ban on 3 February, in a ruling that permitted thousands of people to enter the country. Three judges from the ninth circuit court of appeals in San Francisco upheld Robart’s ruling. The panel said the administration failed to present any evidence that citizens of any of the seven countries carried out a terrorist attack in the US.

The immigration executive order was the “extreme vetting” Trump promised during the election campaign.

Why Trump's immigration executive order caused airport chaos

Trump’s immigration executive order caused chaos at airports

It sparked chaos, demonstrations and legal challenges. A report on CNN said the President’s team failed to run the travel ban past Justice Department officials.

There was widespread misunderstanding and confusion. The ban:

  • Impacted green card holders from the seven countries as well as those with valid visas;
  • Meant some people who were flying when the order was signed were not able to enter the United States.
  • Affected some people with dual nationalities which included passports from a nation, not on the list, were detained at airports.

The government appeared to backtrack on the ban in relation to green card holders 24 hours after the original immigration executive order was signed but suggested they would be subject to intensive vetting.

Lawsuits began to fly, and a federal judge temporarily and partially blocked Trump’s order.

Later, a federal judge in New York allowed an emergency stay for citizens of the countries included in the ban and ruled they could not be removed from the United States. A federal court in Washington issued a stay preventing travelers being detained from being returned to their home country.

In Boston, federal judges ruled officials did not have the power to detain people on the basis of the immigration executive order.

On Feb. 7, three federal judges from the ninth circuit court of appeals took evidence from lawyers from the Justice Department and Washington State about whether the judicial block on the travel ban should be lifted. They declined to lift it.

Should You Leave the County After the Immigration Executive Order?

These are confusing and difficult times for immigrants and those on visas. If you are from the seven affected countries, you should be wary of travel out of the United States, until the executive orders are clarified.

In early February, CNN reported Trump administration was easing restrictions on legal permanent residents who were initially affected by the travel ban.

The administration was reported to be close to closing an agreement with Canada. It would allow Canadian legal permanent residents with US visas to enter the United States.

This is a fast-moving situation. If you are from one of the seven affected countries, you should be careful about traveling unless you are a U.S. citizen. If you are a permanent resident, you should carry your green card with you all time. Keep a photocopy in a safe place at home. Non-immigrants who are lawfully present in the United States should also carry their documentation and have a photocopy in a safe place.

The legal framework should become clearer in the next few weeks but the legal stand-off may drag on.

Our Austin immigration lawyers can help you with questions. Read our frequently asked questions here to find out more about the firm or call us at (512) 474-4445.

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