Department of Homeland Security

In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s grant of a preliminary injunction on President Donald Trump’s September 2017 proclamation – Proclamation No. 9645, more commonly known as the “travel ban.” Proclamation 9645 restricted entry into the United States by citizens of Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Chad (subsequently removed from the list), Libya, Yemen and Venezuela. The majority held that the authority to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States flows from the clear statutory language of §1182(f) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which “enables the President to suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens whenever he finds that their entry would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” Continue Reading Yesterday’s SCOTUS Ruling on the Travel Ban

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Department) recently issued a notice proposing to terminate the international entrepreneur parole program (IE Program) in accordance with Executive Order 13767, entitled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, because the IE Program represents an overly broad interpretation of the Department’s parole authority, lacks sufficient protections for U.S. workers and investors, and is not the appropriate vehicle for attracting and retaining talented international entrepreneurs. Continue Reading Proposed Termination of International Entrepreneur Parole Program

On July 6th, we covered the United States Supreme Court decision regarding President Trump’s travel ban. That Order limited the entry of foreign nationals and refugees based on an individual’s “bona fide relationship” with an entity or person in the United States and capped the number of refugees that may enter for 2017 at 50,000. Implementation has been one of the major practical concerns in all of the immigration-related Executive Orders – the SCOTUS decision is no different.

In its June ruling, the Supreme Court ordered that individuals with a “bona fide relationship” to the United States are exempt from the Executive Order’s restrictions. Although the Supreme Court offered a general definition of what may qualify as a “bona fide relationship,” many uncertainties remain. The Trump Administration interpreted the Court’s language narrowly, applying the ban to grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and other family members. Moreover, the State Department defined close family as a “parent, spouse, fiancé, child, adult son/daughter, son/daughter-in law, sibling, including step relationships.”

On Thursday, July 14, 2017, United States District Court Judge Derrick Watson for the District of Hawaii ruled that the travel ban cannot be enforced for individuals with close familial relationships with grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nephews, or cousins in the United States. In its ruling, Judge Watson stated the Government’s definition of “close familial relationship…is unduly restrictive” and “represents the antitheses of common sense.” Conversely to the Trump Administration’s implementation of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Judge Watson reasoned that grandparents “are the epitome of close family members.”  The District Court also ruled that any refugee who has connections to a resettlement agency in the United States is exempt from the travel ban. The District Court’s ruling could admit approximately 24,000 additional refugees into the United States.

In response to the District Court of Hawaii’s decision, on July 14, 2017, the Trump Administration filed a motion with the Supreme Court to block the District Court’s ruling and overturn the decision and filed a similar request in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In its response, the state of Hawaii urged the Supreme Court to leave the federal judge’s ruling in place.  Moreover, the state of Hawaii asked for the Supreme Court to allow the lower courts to clarify the June 26th decision, whereas in its July 14th motion the Trump Administration emphasized the need for clarity to come solely from the Supreme Court. On July 19th, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the government’s motion seeking clarification of its June 26th Order, but the lower court’s order with respect to refugees was stayed pending the government’s Ninth Circuit appeal.

The take-away from the recent activity is that grandparents are exempt from the Executive Order’s restrictions, but refugees are not. The immigration community is now keeping an eye on the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s review in October.

In an earlier post, we discussed President Trump’s second Executive Order (E.O.) aimed at restricting entry into the United States of certain foreign nationals. In a 10-3 decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked President Trump’s E.O. stating that it “drips with intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” Similarly, the Hawaii decision, which ruled against the E.O., was appealed to the Ninth Circuit; that court has not yet made a ruling.

Next stop, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Although SCOTUS has not granted review of the E.O., the Justice Department has requested the Court for an urgent review. However, before SCOTUS rules on the substantive issues surrounding the E.O., the Court must first grant cert, i.e., at least four of the nine Justices must agree to review the matter. SCOTUS will review the merits of the case only if cert is granted.

Notwithstanding the passionate debate surrounding the E.O., the key legal issue here is the scope of the President’s authority, specifically in the arena of immigration and national security. Stemming from this are a plethora of other issues for the Justices to evaluate, including (1) whether President Trump’s campaign statements may be used as evidence; (2) whether the E.O. violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; and (3) determining what is the appropriate precedential standard for this case.

SCOTUS review of an executive order is not unprecedented. The first of two notable examples: the 1952 case Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, SCOTUS reviewed President Truman’s executive order, and held that the President lacked the authority to seize private steel mills during the Korean War. Second, in the 1981 case Dames & Moore v. Regan, the court ruled in favor of President Reagan’s executive orders, providing deferential review given the national security context of the Iran Hostage Crisis.

Given the confusion surrounding the E.O., litigation in multiple jurisdictions, and the political importance of the matter, SCOTUS is likely to grant review, establishing the appropriate standard and providing clarity nationwide. Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.’s immigration team will provide further updates.

On August 31, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed new regulatory provisions that may benefit international entrepreneurs. The proposed rule would allow DHS to use its existing discretionary parole authority to temporarily admit international entrepreneurs of start-up entities, on a case-by-case basis, whose entry into the US would provide a significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for innovation, rapid business growth, and job creation.  Eligible entrepreneurs must be able to demonstrate the following to realize the benefit of the proposed rule:

  • Significant ownership interest in a start-up entity (at least 15 percent) and have an active and central role in its operations;
  • Startup formed in the US within three (3) years of initial entry; and
  • Startup has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation, as evidenced by:
    • Receipt of significant investment of capital from certain qualified US investors with established records of successful investments;
    • Receipt of significant awards or grants from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
    • Partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria in addition to other demonstrable, reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Under the proposed rule, international entrepreneurs may be initially admitted into the US for up to two (2) years to oversee and grow their start-up entity.  A subsequent request for admission for up to three (3) additional years may be granted only if the entrepreneur and the start-up entity continue to provide a significant public benefit as evidenced by substantial increases in capital investment, revenue, and job creation.

The proposed rule is expected to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the US, which will facilitate research and development, foster employment, and otherwise benefit the US economy through increased business activity and innovation.

DHS is seeking public comment for the next 45 days.