President Trump's executive action blocking foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States is not shocking, given his campaign rhetoric. What is surprising is that the ban is also applicable to permanent residents of the United States. This is going to raise some big problems:
- What happens at the airport with a mixed status family? Let's say that Mom and Dad are permanent residents and the children are U.S. citizens? What then? Are we now depriving U.S. citizen children of their ability to live in the U.S. with their parents who have lawful status and have "done everything right" and "followed the rules"?
- What happens to long term permanent residents? I have clients who have not naturalized but have been permanent residents for decades -- are they barred too?
- If a permanent resident is eligible for naturalization and files their application outside the U.S. -- what happens? Being physically present on U.S. soil is not a requirement for filing. Are they barred from attending their interview?
- If a U.S. citizen wants to marry someone from one of those countries are they now banned from bringing their spouse to the U.S.?
- If a U.S. citizen is traveling abroad with their permanent resident spouse, is their spouse now banned from coming home?
- What if a permanent resident travels abroad, has filed a naturalization application, attended their interview, had their application approved and is merely waiting for their naturalization ceremony? What happens if they are forced to miss their naturalization ceremony? They have been deprived of their precious right to U.S. citizenship.
- What happens if a permanent resident loses their job because they cannot get back into the U.S.? Are they supposed to accept financial ruin?
- Permanent residents already go through screening during the application - does that screening not count?
- If their country of origin does not agree to supply more information, do these permanent residents cease to be permanent residents? Under the law they are entitled to a hearing for termination of permanent resident status.
I am not naive - I know that there are evil people in the world who wish to do harm to the U.S. and its citizens. I am also not opposed to increased screening or securing our borders. I am opposed to rules that deprive U.S. citizens of their parents and spouses. I am opposed to rules that deprive permanent residents of their livelihoods and their homes.
Lesson in the law
Criteria for naturalization:
- Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing the application
- Be a permanent resident for 5 years or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen
- Continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years
- Physical presence in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the past five years or 18 months if married to a U.S. citizen
- Be able to read, write and speak basic English
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government
- Be a person of good moral character
- Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. constitution