California Litigation Attorney Blog

Have you been a legal permanent resident for at least five years? If so, why not take the next step and become a naturalized U.S. citizen? An applicant who wants to become an American citizen must, generally, meet the following requirements:

(1) Be at least 18 years of age;

(2) Be a lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder);

(3) Have continuously resided in the United States for the five years preceding the filing of the application, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen;

(4) Be physically present in the United States for at least half of the past five years, or half of the past three years if married to a U.S. citizen (here, knowing your complete travel history is critical);

(5) Be a person of good moral character (“GMC”) during the past five (or three) years (note that GMC does not mean perfection and you may still be eligible for naturalization despite minor criminal convictions);

(6) Pass an English and U.S. civics examination (there are some exceptions based on age, time as a permanent resident, or medical condition); and

(7) Be willing to take the full oath of allegiance. (8 C.F.R. §316.2).

In addition, the applicant must show residency within the district having jurisdiction over his/her place of residency for at least three months preceding the filing of the application, and pay a filing fee unless eligible for a fee waiver or applying based on service in the U.S. Armed Forces. Lastly, male applicants born after 1960 who became lawful permanent residents and lived in the United States between 18 and 25 are required to provide information confirming registration with Selective Service.

The benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen are many, including petitioning for other family members, having the right to vote, and being eligible for certain jobs with the federal government.

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¿Ha sido usted un residente permanente legal por lo menos cinco años? Si es así, ¿por qué no tomar el siguiente paso y convertirse en ciudadano? Un solicitante que quiere convertirse en ciudadano Americano debe, en general, cumplir con los siguientes requisitos:

(1) Tener por lo menos 18 años de edad;

(2) Ser residente permanente;

(3) Haber residido/vivido continuamente en los Estados Unidos durante los cinco años antes de la presentación de la solicitud, o tres años si está casado con un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos;

(4) Estar físicamente presente en los Estados Unidos durante por lo menos la mitad de los últimos cinco años, o la mitad de los últimos tres años si está casado con un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos (aquí, saber su historial de viaje es muy importante);

(5) Ser una persona de buen carácter moral durante los últimos cinco (o tres) años (tenga en cuenta que esto no significa perfección y usted puede ser elegible para naturalización a pesar de tener antecedentes por delitos menores);

(6) Pasar un examen de inglés y historia de los Estados Unidos (hay algunas excepciones basadas en edad, tiempo como residente permanente, o condición médica); y

(7) Estar dispuesto a tomar el juramento completo de lealtad a los Estados Unidos. (8 C.F.R. §316.2).

Además, el solicitante debe demostrar su residencia dentro del distrito que tiene jurisdicción sobre su solicitud por lo menos tres meses antes de la presentación de la solicitud. Tambien, debe pagar una cuota para procesar la solicitud al menos que sea elegible para una exención de cuota o su aplicación es basada en servicio en las Fuerzas Armadas de los Estados Unidos. Por último, los solicitantes varones nacidos después de 1960 que se convirtieron en residentes permanentes legales y vivíeron en los Estados Unidos entre los 18 y 25 años de edad deben proporcionar información que confirme la inscripción en el Servicio Selectivo.

Hay muchos beneficios de ser ciudadano de los Estados Unidos, incluyendo poder immigrar a otros miembros de la familia, tener el derecho de votar, y ser elegible para ciertos trabajos con el gobierno federal

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In a recent California Court of Appeal decision, the Court was asked to address the issue of whether an employee’s resignation of an at-will employment can be rescinded by the employee on the basis that the employee was suffering from an adverse reaction to medication at the time the resignation was tendered. As held by the Court in Featherstone v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group, (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 1150, once the resignation is tendered and then accepted by the employer, the resignation is final and cannot be rescinded by the employee. The Court in Featherstone noted that employment relationships are contractual in nature and once an offered resignation has been accepted by the employer it is final and binding on the employee.

In Featherstone, the Court further held that the impaired mental condition of the employee, which allegedly resulted from an adverse reaction to medication, did not alter the finality of the resignation. According to the Court, employers do not have a general duty to investigate the circumstances surrounding an at-will employee’s voluntary resignation. Consequently, the holding in Featherstone can be relied upon by employers to rely upon the finality of an employee’s resignation without fear of having any liability should the employee later try to rescind the resignation.

 

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The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (VTVPA) of 2000 (Pub. L. No. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1464-1548 (2000)) was enacted to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute serious crimes while at the same time offering protection to victims of such crimes without the immediate risk of being removed from the country. Recognizing that victims without legal status may be reluctant to report crimes or assist in the investigation or prosecution of crimes, Congress created the U nonimmigrant status program.

The U visa is an immigration benefit for victims of certain serious “qualifying crimes” who meet eligibility requirements. (INA 101(a)(15)(U)). You may be eligible for U visa immigration benefits if you (1) are the direct or indirect victim of a qualifying crime that occurred in the United States; (2) have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a crime; (3) have information about the crime; and (4) were helpful, or are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, or other officials in the detention, investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the criminal activity.

A “qualifying crime” includes, but is not limited to, abduction, abusive sexual contact, domestic violence, felonious assault, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual assault, stalking, torture, witness tampering, etc., and related criminal activities (including attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes).

If eligible, the U visa allows a victim (or, in the case of manslaughter or murder, certain family members of the victim) to temporarily remain and work in the United States, generally for four years. In addition, certain family members of the U visa holder may also be eligible to live and work in the United States as derivative beneficiaries, including unmarried children under 21, a spouse, parents or unmarried siblings under 18 years old if the U visa holder is under the age of 21 years. If certain conditions are met, a U visa holder may apply for permanent residency after three years. 

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La Ley de Prevención de Víctimas de Trafico y Violencia (VTVPA) del 2000 (Pub. L. No. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1464-1548 (2000)) fue promulgada para fortalecer la capacidad de las agencias policiales para investigar y procesar delitos o crímenes graves ofreciendo al mismo tiempo protección a las víctimas de esos crímenes sin el riesgo inmediato de ser expulsados del país. Reconociendo que las víctimas sin estatus legal pueden tener miedo a reportar crímenes o ayudar en la investigación o procesamiento de crímenes, el Congreso creó el programa de la Visa U.

La visa U es un beneficio de inmigración para las víctimas de ciertos delitos graves que cumplen con los requisitos de elegibilidad. (INA 101 (a) (15) (U)). Usted puede ser elegible para los beneficios de inmigración bajo la visa U si usted (1) es la víctima directa o indirecta de un delito calificado que ocurrió en los Estados Unidos; (2) a sufrido abuso físico o mental sustancial como consecuencia de haber sido víctima de un delito; (3) tiene información sobre el delito; y (4) fue útil, o está ayudando, o puede ayudar a los agentes de ley, fiscales, jueces u otros funcionarios en la detención, investigación, enjuiciamiento, convicción o sentencia de la actividad criminal.

Un delito grave incluye, pero no se limita, a un rapto, contacto sexual abusivo, violencia doméstica, agresión criminal, secuestro, homicidio, asesinato, obstrucción a la justicia, perjurio, prostitución, violación, agresión sexual, acecho, tortura, manipulación de testigos, etc. y actividades relacionadas a estos delitos (incluyendo intento, conspiración o solicitación para cometer cualquiera de los delitos mencionados y otros relacionados).

Si es elegible, la visa U permite que la víctima de un delito (o, en el caso de homicidio o asesinato, a ciertos familiares de la victima) permanezca y trabaje temporalmente en los Estados Unidos, generalmente por cuatro años. Además, ciertos miembros de la familia del titular de la visa U también pueden ser elegibles para vivir y trabajar en los Estados Unidos como beneficiarios derivados, incluyendo  hijos solteros menores de 21 años, cónyuge, o los padres o los hermanos solteros menores de 18 años si el titular de la visa U es menor de 21 años. Si se cumplen ciertas condiciones, el titular de una visa U puede solicitar la residencia permanente después de tres años.

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Over the past few months, I have received quite a few calls where employers told me that they assumed their salaried employees were automatically exempt and therefore, not entitled to overtime or other statutory benefits due to nonexempt employees. This is not a good assumption. The confusion may arise because of the theory that a yearly salary, which usually exceeds a year’s worth of minimum wage by a substantial amount, sufficiently compensates the employee for any overtime. However, the Court of Appeal has held that under Labor Code section 510, “Absent an explicit, mutual wage agreement, a fixed salary does not serve to compensate an employee for the number of hours worked [pursuant to] statutory overtime requirements.” (Hernandez v. Mendoza (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 721.) In other words, a weekly salary usually compensates the employee only for the standard forty-hour workweek rather than all hours worked in a week.

In apply the foregoing, the Court of Appeal held that an employment agreement for $300 a week served only to set the rate of pay for a standard forty-hour workweek, which works out to $7.50/hour. The employee worked significantly more than forty hours and should have been paid overtime for those excess hours using $7.50 as the regular rate of pay.

The Court of Appeal’s decision is particularly important for employers who do not require salaried employees to clock in and out because the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the employee despite the employee’s inability to show the actual hours worked. The United States Supreme Court held that where the employer has failed to keep records required by statute, the consequences for such failure should fall on the employer, not the employee. “In such a situation, imprecise evidence by the employee can provide a sufficient basis for damages.” (Id. at 727.) This means that the employee can claim any amount of overtime and the employer must demonstrate that the employee did not actually work those hours, which becomes almost impossible if the employer did not bother to make the employ clock in and out. Lesson – have your employees clock in and out!

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Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), an intending immigrant is inadmissible as a public charge (INA §212(a)(4)) unless he/she is financially sponsored under an affidavit of support pursuant to INA §213A.  By signing the affidavit of support – a formal contract, a sponsor agrees to provide support to maintain the sponsored alien at an annual income of not less than 125% of the Federal poverty guidelines (not less than 100% for active military members sponsoring a spouse or child).

The affidavit of support is legally enforceable against the sponsor not only by the sponsored immigrant with respect to financial support (such as when an intending immigrant is living below the 125% poverty guidelines), but also by the federal government, any state, or any entity that provides any means-tested public benefit, with respect to reimbursement for public services provided. By signing the affidavit of support, the sponsor submits himself to the personal jurisdiction of any court of the United States or of any State, territory, or possession of the United States if the court has subject matter jurisdiction of a civil lawsuit to enforce the Form I-864.[1]

Federal courts have consistently found that Form I–864 is a legally binding and enforceable contract between the sponsor and the sponsored immigrant.[2]

The obligations under the affidavit of support end only when the sponsored immigrant (1) becomes a U.S. citizen, (2) has worked, or can receive credit for, 40 quarters of coverage under the Social Security Act, (3) is no longer a permanent resident and has departed the U.S., (4) is subject to removal, but applies for and obtains, in removal proceedings, a new grant of adjustment of status (permanent residency) with a new affidavit of support, or (5) dies.

Because financial obligations under the affidavit of support terminate only upon the occurrence of one of the five circumstances above, divorce will not invalidate the contract created by the affidavit of support. In fact, instructions accompanying the affidavit of support Form I-864 provide that “[d]ivorce does not terminate [the] obligation” of a sponsor to support the sponsored immigrant. (Affidavit of Support at 8).

Notwithstanding the above, the courts have recognized the defenses of set-off (i.e., receipt of spousal or child support), mitigation of damages (i.e., whether or not the sponsored immigrant made reasonable efforts to find employment), fraud, unclean hands, and others.[3]

What happens in the case of an annulment when the marriage is void ab initio or is treated as if “no valid marriage ever existed”[4] has yet to come before a court but, fraud at the inception of the marriage (a basis for annulment) would certainly provide a strong defense.

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[1] Shumye v. Felleke, 555 F. Supp. 2d 1020, 1023–24 (N.D. Cal. 2008).

[2] See e.g., Younis v. Farooqi, 597 F.Supp.2d 552 at 554 (D.Md.2009); Shumye v. Felleke, 555 F.Supp.2d 1020, 1023 (N.D.Cal.2008).

[3] Id.

[4] Pearsall v. Folsom (1956) 138 F.Supp. 939, 1941).

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Bajo la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad (“INA” por sus siglas en ingles), un inmigrante es inadmisible como carga pública (INA §212 (a) (4)) a menos que él / ella sea patrocinado(a) financieramente bajo un contrato de sostenimiento según INA §213A. Al firmar el contrato de sostenimiento – un contrato formal, el patrocinador queda de acuerdo en sostener al inmigrante patrocinado con un ingreso anual de no menos del 125% de las pautas federales de pobreza (no menos del 100% para los miembros activos del servicio militar que patrocinan a un cónyuge o niño).

El contrato de sostenimiento se puede ser forzado contra el patrocinador no sólo por el inmigrante patrocinado con respecto a apoyo financiero (como cuando un inmigrante está viviendo bajo las pautas de pobreza del 125%), sino también por el gobierno federal, cualquier estado o cualquier entidad que proporcione cualquier beneficio público basado en recursos, con respecto a un reembolso  por los servicios públicos prestados. Al firmar el contrato de sostenimiento, el patrocinador se somete a la jurisdicción personal de cualquier tribunal de los Estados Unidos o de cualquier estado, territorio o posesión de los Estados Unidos si el tribunal tiene la jurisdicción o autorización para escuchar una demanda civil para hacer cumplir el Formulario I-864.[1]

Los tribunales federales han encontrado sistemáticamente que el Formulario I-864 es un contrato legalmente ejecutable entre el patrocinador y el inmigrante patrocinado.[2]

Las obligaciones bajo el contrato de sostenimiento terminan solamente cuando el inmigrante patrocinado (1) llega a ser ciudadano de los EEUU, (2) ha trabajado, o puede recibir crédito por, 40 cuartos de cobertura bajo la Ley del Seguro Social, (3) ya no es residente permanente y ha salido de los Estados Unidos, (4) está sujeto a remoción, pero solicita y obtiene, en un procedimiento de remoción, una nueva concesión de ajuste de estatus (residencia permanente) con un nuevo contrato de sostenimiento, o (5) fallece.

Debido a que las obligaciones financieras bajo el contrato de sostenimiento terminan sólo cuando ocurre una de las cinco circunstancias anteriores, el divorcio no invalidará el contrato creado por el contrato de sostenimiento. De hecho, las instrucciones que acompañan el contrato de sostenimiento en el Formulario de Apoyo I-864 estipulan que “[el] divorcio no termina la obligación” de un patrocinador de apoyar al inmigrante patrocinado. (Formulario I-864, página 8).

No obstante lo anterior, los tribunales han reconocido defensas bajo la ley de contratos como la compensación (es decir, el recibo de manutención de cónyuge o de hijo), la mitigación de los daños (es decir, si el inmigrante patrocinado ha hecho esfuerzos razonables para encontrar un empleo), fraude, entre otros.[3]

¿Qué sucede en el caso de una anulación cuando el matrimonio es nulo desde el principio o cuando se considera como si un “matrimonio válido nunca hubiese existido”?[4] Ningun tribunal ha considerado esta pregunta, pero el fraude al inicio del matrimonio (una base para la anulación) sin duda proporcionaría una defensa fuerte.

[1] Shumye v. Felleke, 555 F. Supp. 2d 1020, 1023-24 (N.D. Cal. 2008).

[2] See e.g., Younis v. Farooqi, 597 F.Supp.2d 552 at 554 (D.Md.2009); Shumye v. Felleke, 555 F.Supp.2d 1020, 1023 (N.D.Cal.2008).

[3] Id.

[4] Pearsall v. Folsom (1956) 138 F.Supp. 939, 1941).

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BankruptcyThe Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling in Jevic declared unlawful priority-skipping structured dismissals in Chapter 11 bankruptcies. This ruling calls into doubt the use of priority-skipping surcharge carve-outs under 11 U.S.C. Section 506(c).

Specifcally, on March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., No. 15–649, 2017 WL 1066259, __ S.Ct. ___ (Mar. 22, 2017) (“Jevic”). Jevic reversed a bankruptcy court order approving a settlement that violated priorities by “earmarke[ing] . . . legal fees and administrative expenses,” and paying some to unsecured creditors, while skipping priority wage claims.

In Jevic: “The Bankruptcy Court agreed with petitioners that the settlement’s distribution scheme failed to follow ordinary priority rules. But it held that this did not bar approval. That, in the Bankruptcy Court’s view, was because the proposed payouts would occur pursuant to a structured dismissal of a Chapter 11 petition rather than an approval of a Chapter 11 plan. The court accordingly decided to grant the motion in light of the ‘dire circumstances’ facing the estate and its creditors. Specifically, the court predicted that without the settlement and dismissal, there was ‘no realistic prospect’ of a meaningful distribution for anyone other than the secured creditors. A confirmable Chapter 11 plan was unattainable. And there would be no funds to operate, investigate, or litigate were the case converted to a proceeding in Chapter 7.”

Jevic found that: “The Code’s priority system constitutes a basic underpinning of business bankruptcy law. . . .  The priority system applicable to those distributions has long been considered fundamental to the Bankruptcy Code’s operation.”

Instead, Jevic found that: “Nothing else in the Code authorizes a court ordering a dismissal to make general end-of-case distributions of estate assets to creditors of the kind that normally take place in a Chapter 7 liquidation or Chapter 11 plan–let alone final distributions that do not help to restore the status quo ante or protect reliance interests acquired in the bankruptcy, and that would be flatly impermissible in a Chapter 7 liquidation or a Chapter 11 plan because they violate priority without the impaired creditors’ consent.”

Jevic also discussed “interim distributions that violate ordinary priority rules. But in such instances one can generally find significant Code-related objectives that the priority-violating distributions serve. Courts, for example, have approved ‘first-day’ wage orders that allow payment of employees’ prepetition wages, ‘critical vendor’ orders that allow payment of essential suppliers’ prepetition invoices, and ‘roll-ups’ that allow lenders who continue financing the debtor to be paid first on their prepetition claims. In doing so, these courts have usually found that the distributions at issue would ‘enable a successful reorganization and make even the disfavored creditors better off.’”

Jevic explained: “By way of contrast, in a structured dismissal like the one ordered below, the priority-violating distribution is attached to a final disposition; it does not preserve the debtor as a going concern; it does not make the disfavored creditors better off; it does not promote the possibility of a confirmable plan; it does not help to restore the status quo ante; and it does not protect reliance interests. In short, we cannot find in the violation of ordinary priority rules that occurred here any significant offsetting bankruptcy-related justification. Rather, the distributions at issue here more closely resemble proposed transactions that lower courts have refused to allow on the ground that they circumvent the Code’s procedural safeguards.”

Jevic set forth that the policies for following statutory priorities “include changes in the bargaining power of different classes of creditors even in bankruptcies that do not end in structured dismissals. They include risks of collusion, i.e., senior secured creditors and general unsecured creditors teaming up to squeeze out priority unsecured creditors.”

Jevic quoted its prior precedent that “that courts cannot deviate from the procedures ‘specified by the Code,’ even when they sincerely ‘believ[e] that . . . creditors would be better off.'”

Jevic calls into doubt the Ninth Circuit ruling in In re Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Inc., 255 F.3d 1061, 1068, fn. 4 (9th Cir. 2001), which found that a “surcharge” under § 506(c) could skip priorities by providing funds directly to an administrative creditor at the expense of other creditors in order of their priorities.

Debbie Reynolds found “that a § 506(c) surcharge is not an administrative claim, but an assessment against a secured party’s collateral. [Citation.] As such, it does not come out of the debtor’s estate, but rather comes directly from the secured party’s recovery. Consequently, § 506(c) expenses do not fall within the priority scheme of the Bankruptcy Code at all.”

Debbie Reynolds “reject[ed] the BAP’s conclusion that direct distribution of the surcharge will result in a reordering of the Bankruptcy Code’s priority schedule. In re Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Inc., 238 B.R. 831, 840 (9th Cir. BAP 1999).”

Specifically, the BAP in Debbie Reynolds found that: “The bankruptcy court’s use of § 506(c) to circumvent § 364(c)(1) and the priority scheme of the Code was erroneous” because, “as a general rule, § 506(c) ‘is a reimbursement provision for the benefit of the estate, not an independent compensation provision available to a trustee or any other claimant seeking personal compensation.’” In re Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Inc., 238 B.R. 831, 840 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1999). The BAP’s ruling in Debbie Reynolds seems directly in line with the reasoning from Jevic.

Based on Jevic, court should adopt the reasoning from the case of In re Res. Tech. Corp., 356 B.R. 435, 444–45 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2006), which found that: “a § 506(c) recovery by a trustee cannot properly be paid to an individual administrative creditor . . . . Rather, because only a bankruptcy trustee may seek a § 506(c) surcharge, the surcharge can only be recovered for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate.”

Further litigation over the meaning of Jevic will clarify whether priority-skipping settlements in other contexts will also be deemed impermissible.

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Esta mañana, lunes 6 de marzo de 2017, el Presidente Trump firmó una Orden Ejecutiva revisada que prohíbe la entrada a Estados Unidos a los ciudadanos de países de mayoría Musulmana, pero esta vez excluye a ciudadanos de Irak. Se prohíbe la entrada a Estados Unidos por un período de al menos 90 días a los ciudadanos de Irán, Libia, Siria, Somalia, Sudán y Yemen. La nueva orden también prohíbe que refugiados ingresen a los Estados Unidos, aunque ahora no se hace distinción entre refugiados sirios y refugiados de otros países, y también recorta por más de la mitad del número de refugiados que se permitirán ingresar a los Estados Unidos a partir del año fiscal 2017.

En un comunicado de prensa, el Secretario de Seguridad Nacional John Kelly declaró que la nueva orden sólo aplica a los extranjeros que están fuera de los Estados Unidos y “que no tienen una visa válida,” y que no afecta a los residentes permanentes legales o personas con autorización para entrar al país. La portavoz de la Casa Blanca Sarah Huckabee Sanders declaró que la nueva orden entraría en vigor el 16 de marzo del 2017.

Esta nueva orden revisada revela algunos de los mismos términos confusos y ambiguos en su aplicación, y plantea muchas de las mismas cuestiones que la primer orden firmada el 27 de enero del 2017, incluyendo la discriminación basada en religión, violaciones del debido proceso de ley, violaciones de protección de igualdad, preocupaciones humanitarias, y otras. Seguiremos publicando más información a medida que esté disponible.

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This morning, Monday, March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a revised Executive Order banning citizens from Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States, but this time excluding citizens from Iraq. Citizens of the remaining banned countries, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, are prohibited from entering the U.S. for a period of at least 90-days. The new order also prohibits refugees from entering the U.S. although no distinction is made between Syrian refugees and refugees from other countries, and cuts by more than half the number of refugees that will be allowed to enter the U.S. starting with fiscal year 2017.

In a press release, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly stated the new order applies only to foreign nationals outside of the United States “who do not have a valid visa,” and that it does not affect current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter the country. White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated the new order would take effect on March 16, 2017.  

A review of the new order reveals some of the same vague and ambiguous language on its application, and it poses many of the same issues as the first order signed on January 27, 2017, including discrimination based on religion, due process violations, equal protection violations, humanitarian concerns, and others. We will continue to post more information as it becomes available.

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On January 27, 2017, a mere two days after signing sweeping immigration Executive Orders, President Trump signed yet another Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (the “Order”) which was implemented immediately and caused chaos at airports and outrage throughout this country and the world.

The Order, commonly-known as a “Muslim-ban,” suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, reduces the number of refugees to be admitted, bars indefinitely the admission of Syrian refugees, and bans the entry of individuals from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian, and Yemen, for at least 90 days. As a result, anyone from these countries who sought – or were already approved for, immigrant visas to permanently reside in the U.S. or non-immigrant visas for temporary travel to the U.S. were denied entry. Incredibly, the Order was also made applicable to Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), who have already been vetted by the government, who were returning home from business trips or vacation. Since then, the Administration has provided a number of “updates” including a couple of updates to clarify the Order is not applicable to LPRs. These updates have led to confusion and as of the writing of this blog continue to change.

Since the implementation of the Order, at least thirteen (13) lawsuits were filed against the new Administration, including a class action lawsuit, alleging Constitutional violations of procedural and substantive due process rights under the Fifth Amendment, as well as the right to readmission as LPRs; discrimination based on country of origin substantially motived by animus toward Muslims in violation of the Equal Protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by giving preference to non-Muslims; and violations of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (AILA Doc. No. 17013101).

The lawsuits yielded immediate results in the form of stays and, on February 3, 2017, U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle temporarily blocked the Order nationwide. The government quickly sought an emergency stay of Judge Robart’s order but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to immediately reinstate the ban. On February 7, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court heard oral arguments on the government’s motion, and a decision is expected later this week. Once a decision is issued by the Ninth Circuit Court, either side could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court but, as has been noted, it could prove difficult to find the required five votes given the Court has been missing its ninth justice for almost a year since Antonin Scalia’s death.

The last immigration case that reached the Justices was in 2016 when Texas and 25 other states sued the Obama Administration to prevent the implementation of deferred action for parents, which resulted in a 4-4 decision. (United States v Texas, 136 S. Ct. 2271 (2016)). The other issue is time. How and when the case will reach the U.S. Supreme Court is unknown. The “Muslim-ban” is for 90 days and the issue could be moot by the time a decision is reached by the Justices. Or, as we have seen with so many updates, the government could yet again change the Order.  

It would be wise for anyone affected by this Executive Order, especially those who intend to travel, to seek the immediate assistance of immigration counsel.

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