Jan 27, 2017
Fact vs. Fiction in U.S. Immigration
Joshua H. Rolf
The recent debate between real news vs. fake news (or facts vs. alternative facts) has become all consuming, and the topic of immigration is no exception. Inaccurate information and representations regarding the immigration system abound, and without further investigation may come off, and be accepted, as fact. That the President is issuing numerous Executive Orders on this topic, drafts of which have been released prior to issuance, only complicates matters and presents a prime opportunity for the spread of misinformation.
For example, we recently received an inquiry from a partner in Asia regarding a fake news story claiming that one of President Trump’s Executive Orders made Asian nationals visa-exempt. In other words, this individual wanted to confirm the veracity of this story which, if true, would have allowed her to travel to the United States without first obtaining a specific visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
There are disconnected kernels of truth in this story: yes, the President is issuing Executive Orders regarding immigration; yes, for now people from certain countries, such as Canada and, in certain instances, Bermuda and the Bahamas, are visa-exempt; and yes, for now nationals of many European countries and Australia may not require a visa for travel as a visitor for business or pleasure under the Visa Waiver Program. However, and as confirmed by a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, there is no truth to this story. As such, Asian nationals continue to be required to obtain an appropriate visa before traveling to the United States, unless they have dual nationality with a visa exempt country or qualify for VWP.
Although the above-described incident is, in fact, fake, President Trump is in the process of issuing several Executive Orders pertaining to immigration. Many of these Orders describe definitive actions which may take effect imminently, and which will cause harm to both the immigrant community in the United States, and foreign nationals abroad seeking refuge in our country. Other Orders call for further investigation, and list contingencies based on future actions and information. Future Orders and/or legislation may alter the landscape even further, but on their own President Trump’s issued or to-be-issued Executive Orders, as drafted, stand to significantly alter the way our country treats foreign nationals within and outside our borders.
No matter what comes from these Orders and future actions that are on the horizon, our Firm will remain attentive to your needs and help you determine exactly how they will affect your situation. In doing so, we will remain a staunch ally in the fight for the rights of not only our clients, but the immigrant community as a whole. We firmly believe that our country approaches its highest ideals when it is open and inclusive, recognizing both documented and undocumented immigrants’ invaluable contributions to their families, communities, and our nation as a whole. Measures which inaccurately vilify this population and alienate its members within our borders, or which prohibit entry based on national origin, turn away individuals fleeing violence and persecution, and stifle innovation, are first and foremost inhumane, but also run counter to our national values and interests. In the face of these measures, our Practice will continue to represent your needs. We remain dedicated to our role as advocates, and sincerely look forward to assisting as we confront the issues that lay ahead.