Fearmongers and critics of President-Elect Trump's incoming administration are painting pictures of mass deportations and absolute bans on immigration. Whether any of these fears come to pass remains to be seen, but on a smaller level, asylum seekers and immigrants seeking refugee status are likely to see real changes in the law.
Blanket Bans on Muslim Immigrants
Consulates already have wide discretion to deny visas for any reason or for no reason at all. The September 11 terrorist attacks already caused the imposition of special registration on certain Muslim immigrants. The new administration might enhance these restrictions to further limit the opportunity for Muslim peoples to seek to immigrate to the United States.
In fiscal year 2016, almost half of the persons who received refugee status in the U.S. were Muslims. This reflected a change from prior years in which a majority of refugees were persecuted Christians. The Syrian refugee crisis is the most likely cause of this change. The Trump administration is expected to be less friendly to Muslim refugees.
Refugees and Persons with Asylum Status Already in the U.S.
Notwithstanding promises and pledges made during the election cycle, it is very unlikely that persons with legal residency status in the U.S., including Muslim refugees and asylum-seekers, will be deported. Deportation of legal residents will require changes in the law that Congress would have to approve. The checks and balances inherent in the United States system of government will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the new administration to revoke a legal resident's status.
Pending Asylum Cases
The U.S. Constitution's due process considerations will protect persons whose asylum petitions are already pending. Their cases may take longer to adjudicate, which will increase stress levels and uncertainties, but the substance of those cases will generally not be affected.
Physical Barriers and Preclusion of Specific Immigrant Groups
Whether the new administration's pledge to build a wall along the country's southern border was just a populist campaign pledge or a genuine statement of intention remains to be seen. The new president's advisers will need to weigh the benefits of a physical barrier against the real policy implications of that barrier, which may include precipitating a greater refugee crisis. The physical and financial challenges of erecting a wall suggest that no barriers will be built. The new administration is a wholly unknown quantity, however, and nothing can be assumed with any level of certainty.
The attorneys at the McLean Law Firm in Phoenix and Los Angeles are dedicated to helping persecuted immigrants to applying for and receiving legitimate refugee or asylum status to protect themselves and their families from undue persecution in foreign countries. Please contact us for more information on how we can help you with your refugee or asylum petition.