What I’m Telling My Clients

People ask me what I’m telling my clients right now. Below is EXACTLY what I’m telling them – it’s going out in an email tomorrow, as soon as the Spanish version is prepared.

There have been a lot of changes to immigration policy over the past week and we anticipate that this is only the beginning. I want to give you an initial overview of where things currently are – knowing this could change at any minute.

If you have another immigration attorney, please consult with them on these issues – I don’t mean to interfere with your relationship.

If you are a current client, we ask for your patience as our call volume has increased dramatically. We are still working on and filing cases as planned. I know many of you may be scared about what could happen, but trust me when I tell you that if we believe that your case will be impacted by the EOs, we will let you know. We simply cannot answer over 250 emails and calls per day based on every change that President Trump announces. However, we want you to contact us if any of the following apply to you:

  • You get arrested
  • You want to travel outside of the U.S. and you have any connection with one of the banned countries (you are a citizen of, were born in, or spent extensive time visiting)
  • You receive correspondence or a call from the Department of Homeland Security


USCIS Case Processing

Q) Is my case impacted by the Executive Orders (EO)?
A) Not likely. All cases, all types of forms, all nationalities are still being processed by USCIS. If you are a national of one of the banned countries (currently Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iran or Iraq) please know that USCIS cannot issue a final decision on your case right now. However, we understand that interviews for all cases, all nationalities are still being held as scheduled. If you are not from one of the banned countries, the only impact you may see is a slight slow-down in processing times due to resources at USCIS being reallocated to deal with the EOs.

Q) What about my DACA, Parole in Place, Advance Parole, or Humanitarian Parole case?
A) Currently, all of these cases are being processed and approved by USCIS. We don’t know when or if these particular programs may be cancelled or changed.


Traveling Outside the U.S.

Q) I am from one of the banned countries. Should I travel outside of the U.S.?
A) No. We are hearing reports that US citizens who are dual citizens with one of the banned countries are being held for several hours upon entry to the US. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) are also being held if their passport is from one of the banned countries.

Q) I am a LPR from a different country (not on the banned list). Can I travel?
A) It’s risky. New countries can be added to the banned list at any time. If you have any arrest or even a charge against you (beyond minor traffic infractions that did not involve alcohol or drugs), you may not be allowed to re-enter the United States. Even if you are allowed to re-enter the U.S., you may be placed in removal proceedings.


Criminal Arrests and Deportation

Q) Will I get arrested and deported?
A) Every case is fact-specific, so I cannot give a blanket answer. You cannot be arrested just for being in the U.S. without permission. If you are arrested for driving without a license, domestic violence, shoplifting, etc., you will have your fingerprints taken and ICE will be notified. If ICE comes to start removal proceedings against you, tell them you want to see a judge. The removal (“deportation”) process can take years. There is no fast-track deportation unless you sign away your right to see or a judge or if you have a prior order of removal.

Q) I’m on an Order of Supervision. Should I be worried?
A) Yes. ICE has been detaining many people who have reported on an Order of Supervision since the EOs came out. For your next reporting date, you should consider filing a Stay of Removal or have a Motion to Reopen with the Immigration Court Pending.

Know Your Rights

Q) Can any immigration officer ask to see my phone, laptop or tablet?
A) Yes. Here are suggestions on how to handle such a request:

  • Encrypt everything.
  • Backup remotely to an encrypted system — make sure it is one you can trust.
  • Flash the device to factory settings before you board the plane / leave to the border. Add limited applications to fulfill your needs.
  • Set your device to factory reset on 3 or less wrong password entries.
  • Set a dumb password that you do not use anywhere else, same on all devices.
  • If you are a U.S. Citizen: refuse to give over the device if you are willing to go to court or be detained. If you are in another status: hand over the device.
  • In any case, never give over the password, always inform them, “I will log-in to my device and set it to a password of your choosing upon receipt of a warrant ordering me to do that. Otherwise I will not share my password.”
  • NEVER enter a password into a device while in an airport, unless you put it under your clothes/jacket first and can do it without looking at it — biometric login is fine. There are cases that have found the government can use a password they observe you entering or even surreptitiously record you entering without a warrant.

Q) What do I do if someone knocks at my door?
A) We haven’t heard reports of raids, but ICE agents may come to your house. Do not open your door to anyone you don’t know. Once you open your door, ICE can ask you or anyone in your house about their immigration status. ICE has been known to pose as pizza delivery people to try and get you to open your door. ICE has also been known to hang around houses for up to 12 hours to try and arrest someone. These are extreme measures and will likely be used for dangerous criminal, if anyone, but please know that ICE has used these mechanisms in the past. If an ICE agent comes to your door, only open it if they have a warrant signed by a judge. They can hold it up to the window or slide it in a mail slot so you can see it.


Stay Educated

Q) My friend said…Do I believe them?
A) No. Unless your friend is an immigration official, do not listen to what your friends say or rely on what your friends’ experiences may have been. Everyone’s case is different and depends on very specific facts. There is a lot of information, some of it incorrect, about what these EOs do and don’t do.

Q) Where do I go for information?
A) Credible news outlets are mostly reliable. You can also follow us on Twitter @Klinke_imm, Facebook, or read blog posts on our website. Government websites, such as uscis.gov and cbp.gov are also good to review.

-Tracie