HIAS PA Issues Digest #11: New Refugee Policies and more

Eleventh Edition                                                                                  October 27, 2017

HIAS Pennsylvania Immigration Issues Digest 

Refugee Ban Ends, But New Policies Almost Amount to Ban for 11 Countries


Most Recent Travel Ban Blocked in Court

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, in two separate cases, issued temporary restraining orders against the travel ban that is part of the Presidential Proclamation that was issued in late September. On October 20 an federal appellate Hawaii court judge turned the temporary restraining order into a Preliminary Injunction. The ban barred various visas from Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela. A U.S. District Judge in Hawaii issued the preliminary injunction enjoining  the travel ban on travel from the six majority Muslim countries, stating that the ban may violate the U.S. Constitution because it discriminates against Muslims and reiterating, as it did in earlier travel ban Orders, that the Administration had not presented any evidence that such a ban was necessary.

On October 24, the Supreme Court dismissed the challenge to the previous travel and refugee ban, issued by the Administration in March, since those bans, for 90 and 120 days respectively  have expired. It is unclear whether the court will agree to hear the challenge on the September travel ban before their term ends.

What does this mean?

The travel ban would keep families apart. Anyone living in the U.S. who would like to bring their spouse or children from one of the banned countries would not be able to do so, indefinitely. There is no evidence that such a ban will keep Americans safe. The Administration has stated that they will file an appeal to the Supreme Court but nothing has been filed yet.

The President Outlines his Immigration Priorities, Showing Disregard for Due Process

In the discussion surrounding passing DACA, the Trump administration outlined his immigration priorities. Some demands were expected: funding for the border wall and increased number of immigration agents and the defunding of sanctuary cities. Other priorities would change legislation so that some of those seeking asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief in the United States would be unable to do so. The document encourages Congress to change the laws so that unaccompanied children crossing the border fleeing violent, abusive homes would be sent back. The document also asks to make changes that would make it easier to deport individuals even if they have asylum claims.

Shortly after releasing the demands, Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered remarks doubling down on revamping the immigration system, including plans to evaluate immigration judges on the basis of how many cases they resolve and stating that many asylum claims are false or fraudulent. He presented no evidence for this claim and there is no evidence to support this.

What does this mean?

In his speech, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decries the fact that immigrants who come to this country are allowed to make an argument in front of a judge that they should be able to stay because they have fear of persecution. Many of the changes that the Presidentwould like to make are to ensure that few people, if any, can enter the United States and to speed up the process of deportations. As is the case for the refugee resettlement program actions, the principles that the President is advocating for with respect to immigrant are based on false ideas about who immigrants are and fail to recognize the enormous benefits that immigrants bring to our country and who we are as a country – an immigrant nation. It makes as much sense to ban immigrants from the United States as it would to ban French people from France. 

What can you do?

Support the lawyers that ensure that immigrants do get the due process they deserve by donating to HIAS Pennsylvania . Immigrants who have lawyers are four times more likely to get relief than those without. Make sure that asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors are not thrown under the bus in DACA legislation by contacting your congressperson.

Citizenship Applications Increased Since Trump Elected

Citizenship applications, which usually take a downturn after an election, have instead increased. There are no signs of this trend abating.

What does this mean?

Immigrants who felt perfectly comfortable with a green card now feel under threat. With the bans, curb on legal immigration, and increase in detention of immigrants, even green card holders are feeling fear. They are applying for citizenship to protect themselves and to gain the right to vote.

What can you do?

Donate to help support HIAS Pennsylvania’s Citizenship program and help all that want citizenship and who are eligible, to receive it.

HIAS Pennsylvania in the News

Billy Penn covered a community based soccer event that included many HIAS PA families.
In the words of Valeri Harteg, HIAS Pennsylvania Education Coordinator: “Soccer is something familiar in a new place that is full of unfamiliar things.”


HIAS Pennsylvania’s Annual Meeting honoring John Grogan, Esq. and Main Line Reform Temple (in particular Linda Brock, Adele Margulies, and Avivah Pinski), was covered by ABC6.

Watch a video on Main Line Reform Temple’s volunteer work here.