The Executive Order signed on Friday, 27 January, 2017, is designed to at least temporarily (90 days) close US borders to those carrying passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, due to terrorist concerns. This includes Lawful Permanent Residents, those with already approved non-immigrant visas, students, business visitors, etc. and refugees with approved visas. It has already been put into effect both at the points of entry (POE) into the United States and at the Consular level.
After an estimated 200 legal immigrants were detained at airports across the U.S., the ACLU requested and was granted a stay of removal/deportation for those legal immigrants/visa holders who were caught unaware when returning to the U.S. from abroad. Many international airlines are not allowing passport holders from these seven countries to board at the point of departure. (It has been a long-standing rule that airlines who carry those ineligible for entry to the US are fined and must absorb the cost of returning the individual(s) to their point of departure.)
In her decision, Eastern District Court Judge Ann Donnelly said it was likely that the petitioners (the ACLU on behalf of the detainees) would be able to prove that the executive order is unconstitutional. The judge continued: “There is imminent danger that, absent any stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017 executive order.” At this writing, no response has come from the White House or the Department of Homeland Security.
On the Consular level, visa appointments for non-immigrant and immigrant visas for those carrying the above cited passports, both Muslims and non-Muslims, have been cancelled with no information on when or if they will be rescheduled.
Please notify your friends/family members that may be affected. Attorneys currently (as of January 29, 2017) are advising their clients to cancel/postpone any plans to leave the U.S. either for business or personal reasons until the full effect of the Executive Order is clarified.
— Judy Furukawa (AWC Brussels)
FAWCO Citizenship Chair