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On January 27, 2017, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, that barred nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria & Yemen from entering the United States. Initially, the prohibition was made to apply to both immigrants and non-immigrants. Thus, even those with immigrant visas, or even green cards, from the affected countries could not board airplanes bound for the U.S. as visas were revoked. Since then, it has been made clear that those with green cards are not covered by the ban. Neither does it apply to persons with diplomatic visas or visas for staff of international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank or North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And it certainly does not apply to US citizens, nor to dual citizens holding passports from a country other than the 7 mentioned above.
On February 3, 2017, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that halted the implementation of this executive order. The US government appealed the judge’s order, but was refused a stay of the temporary order. The appellate court heard arguments from both sides on February 7, 2017. On February 9, 2017, the restraining order was upheld. The US government, though, will probably take the matter all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, this is how matters stand at present. The executive order still cannot be implemented, and only if the US Supreme Court rules in favor of the US government by staying the restraining order will the ban take effect again.
In the meantime, the abrupt implementation of this executive order caused chaos and confusion everywhere. I have gotten calls from Filipino clients with green cards asking if they can still travel outside the US. Yes, they can. I have also heard from clients with green cards who are currently in the Philippines asking if they can still come home to the US. Yes, they can.
Some even report hearing that people from the southern part of Philippines might be banned, too – reportedly leading a dean from a prestigious university in the big city up north to bewail on how a US immigration officer at a port-of-entry will be able to tell which part of the Philippines a Filipino traveler is from. God forbid that a Manileno is mistaken for a Mindanaon!
Apparently, the source of this story is an online Philippine paper that quotes an immigration law firm’s website. Fortunately, that has since been updated..
Of more immediate concern to Filipinos, though, is one of 2 executive orders that were signed on January 25, 2017. Known as “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”, the order eliminated the Obama prosecutorial discretion memos and replaced it with a new and much harsher enforcement priorities guidance. These new priorities were effective immediately and will likely sweep more people into the deportation and detention system.
And there’s the humanitarian parole process for family members of Filipino World War II veterans. At the very least, the future of this program is now in question.


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