3 More Things International Students Should Know about Trump’s Executive Order

Nik LewerNik Lewer | February 10, 2017

On January 27th, President Donald Trump passed the controversial executive order that attempted to install a 90-day ban on people from seven countries from coming into the United States. In the past week alone, protests have waged around the world, appeals have been launched by federal judges, and more than 100 companies - including Google and Apple - have filed a joint legal brief opposing the ban. The brief argued that the immigration ban “inflicts significant harm on American business”.

The spirited exchange between the judiciary and the office of the President is moving so quickly that it is difficult to parse the facts and determine how the order will affect international students at any given moment. A piece on The Intercept notes that many universities don’t surrender students’ immigration details with government agencies unless subpoenaed; however universities as well as international students continue to struggle with how this ban may impact them.

Check out the three key updates below to learn the latest on this provocative executive order.

1. A Federal Court Has (Temporarily) Stopped Enforcement of the Executive Order

Legal efforts to block the executive order began almost immediately after President Trump signed it. One day after the ban, a federal court judge in Brooklyn ruled that officials could not remove entrants who had arrived shortly after the order was signed. However, this ruling did not officially grant entry to those affected. 

On Feb. 4, Judge James L. Robart of the Western District of Washington, a federal judge in Seattle, ruled in favor of a restraining order from the states of Washington and Minnesota against significant segments of Trump’s order. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security stopped enforcing policies related to the order later that day. CNN reports that the 60,000 people who saw their visas cancelled physically would have to seek reinstatement from their countries’ embassies.

Despite this temporary victory, the issue was far from finished. Two days after the restraining order came into effect, the Justice Department filed a challenge that prolonged the case.

2. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Has Heard the Case

In a decision issued on February 9, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Robart’s restraining order, essentially preventing enforcement of Trump’s executive order. The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the restraining order should remain in effect while Judge Robart further examines the executive order’s legality.

Among the issues to be considered is whether President Trump’s intended ban is indeed in the interests of national security and as such should not be second-guessed by the judiciary. Counsel for the states of Washington and Minnesota argued that the immigration ban was motivated by religious discrimination as opposed to national safety.

3. The Issue Will Probably Go Before the Supreme Court

The 9th Circuit’s ruling is certainly not the final say in the matter. Minutes after the decision was issued, President Trump tweeted (in all caps) “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” 

The next step should be back to Judge Robart to further review the legality of the executive order. However it is feasible that the 9th Circuit’s ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court would be asked to vacate the temporary restraining order and allow Trump’s executive order to proceed.

However, adding to the intrigue, the Supreme Court currently sits at eight justices – one shy of its full complement of nine. And the eight are split equally between appointees from democratic and republican presidents. If the justices were to reach a split decision, the Ninth Circuit’s determination would likely stand. However, this result would likely not speak to the fundamental legality of the executive order, so prepare for more battles to be fought in the coming months.

Unfortunately, this will leave many international students in a precarious state. International students that are currently studying in the US should carefully consider all travel plans until the issue is resolved and a clear outcome has been determined.

Stay tuned as LewerMark continues to monitor the situation. #Youarewelcomehere

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Nik Lewer

Nik is vice president at The Lewer Agency. He has over 10 years of experience in global benefits and human resources consulting, and helped grow a team of global benefits consultants from two to 25 nationwide. He is an International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) fellow, certified as a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), and is licensed in Life, Accident, and Health insurance. Nik’s wide range of interests include mountain climbing, hiking, playing guitar and live music, reading, watching movies, staying up on current events, long distance running, good food and drinks, long walks on the beach, and knitting.

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