• Trump’s sneak attack: You be the judge

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    CRISPIN R. ARANDA

    WHILE the world—and specifically the six Muslim-dominated countries—celebrated the order of two federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocking the new executive order issued by President Donald Trump banning entry into the US of nationals from the six countries, the 45th US President pulled a fast one via another executive action a day before the judges stopped the EO from taking effect.

    On March 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a cable to all consular posts reminding consular chiefs that on the same day that President Trump signed the second EO, on March 6, 2017, he also signed a memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security. Section 2 of the memorandum instructs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to “implement protocols and procedures as soon as practicable…that in their judgment will enhance the screening and vetting of applications for visas and all other immigration benefits, so as to increase the safety and security of the American people.”

    Unlike an executive order which requires publication in the Federal Register for the public to comment, a presidential memorandum may be issued and become effective immediately.

    The additional protocols and procedures in the March 6 memorandum focus on:

    a) preventing the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who may aid, support, or commit violent, criminal, or terrorist acts; and

    b) ensuring the proper collection of all information necessary to rigorously evaluate all grounds of inadmissibility or deportability, or grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits.

    The protocols and procedures were not limited to nationals or citizens of the six countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—covered by the ban in the first executive order.

    Underscoring his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” Trump emphasized the executive branch’s commitment to ensure that “all laws related to entry into the United States are enforced rigorously and consistently,”

    Bases for denying visas
    To highlight the “critical importance of maintaining extra vigilance” in the “increased scrutiny of visa applicants for potential security and non-security related ineligibilities,” the State Department cable instructs consular officers not to hesitate to “refuse any case presenting security concerns under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in order to explore all available local leads…or issue any other refusals or take precautionary actions pursuant to any applicable ground of inadmissibility under the INA.”

    Immigration practitioners and immigrant advocates will notice that this is a virtual blanket authority to use any and all basis to deny or refuse a visa application.

    The legal bases for refusing a visa application are directly related to an individual’s past and current violations or intention to violate any US immigration laws under Section 212 (a) of the INA. The grounds may be based on: health; criminal and related grounds; security and related grounds; public charge, in which the visa applicant may be applying for and getting public benefits he or she is not entitled to; labor certification and certain qualifications for certain immigrants; illegal entrants and immigration violators; documentation for certain immigrants and non-immigrants; those ineligible for US citizenship; aliens previously removed or deported from the US as well as aliens unlawfully present in the US (popularly known as TNTs); and miscellaneous violations, such polygamists and child abductors.

    Screening of certain visa populations
    The March 15, 2017 presidential memorandum also orders Consular Chiefs to “immediately convene post’s law enforcement and intelligence community partners under the auspices of existing visa viper or law enforcement working groups, as appropriate. These working groups will develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.”

    In short, the US Embassy will draw up a profile of visa applicants who should be subject to more intensive questioning and extreme vetting.

    Once identified, consular chiefs are “required to direct adjudicating consular officers to attempt to identify individual applicants that fall within the population set during the course of a consular visa interview” and even if the temporary visa applicant may overcome the presumption of intending to stay in the US permanently under Section 214 (b) of the INA, the interviewing consular officer should “consider sending a discretionary Donkey Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) request.

    Under this SAO request, the interviewing consuls must ask additional questions directly related to understanding the applicant’s answers on application forms, which may include subjects such as the applicant’s

    • Travel history, previous addresses (if different from the current one), prior occupation(s) and employer(s) over the last 15 years;

    • Siblings/children/former spouses not recorded or disclosed in the DS-160/260 visa applications or NIV/IVO case notes;

    • Prior passport numbers;

    • Phone numbers used in the last five years;

    • E-mail addresses and social media handles used by the applicant in the last five years.

    Mr. Trump may have lost the healthcare battle but he clearly wins this immigration and visa-related skirmish – big time.

    This sneak attack may not be a fatal blow but surely is more than a technical knock-out. Are you worried yet?

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    2 Comments

    1. You are just like the fake news of mainstream media in the US by using words like sneak attack to put down Trump. You are joining the bandwagon of the liberal Democrats who are just protecting their future voters, many of whom are illegal aliens. Trump is being nationalistic, a term that Filipinos don’t seem to understand. Would like Muslim terrorists to come to the Philippines? Would like a lot of Muslim refugees who do not want to respect the Philippine constitution and follow our way of life and refuse to assimilate be part of the Philippines? Heck, Mindanao has shown us how stubborn most Muslims are with regard to their Sharia Law. Trump is trying to protect the original settlers of the US and not the Muslim refugees they have taken in. A lot of illegal aliens and immigrants have killed US citizens on American soil. And contrary to what the Democrats and liberal leftists say in the US, the US was not built on immigration but on colonization just like what happened to the Philippines. The British and the French colonized parts of the US and Canada while the Spaniards and Portuguese colonized South America. Spain also colonized Mexico and California before. So the US started as a colony. It only became a “nation of immigrants” after it became an independent nation and many nationalities tried their luck in this country. However, most of them were more affiliated with the Judeo-Christian tradition so assimilation was easier while keeping some of their ethnic traditions intact. Now, being a Christian in the US is seen as negative while being pro-Muslim or being a Muslim is protected. Heck, praying to Jesus in public or saying Merry Christmas is banned while doing the same to Muslim religious practices is considered bigotry and racism. This is the NWO and PC culture at work. Obamacare, on the other hand, is unfair to those who are working just like what is happening in the Philippines where most of the middle class shoulder the brunt of required taxes to help the poor get free Philhealth, housing, etc. And yet, when a middle class person loses his or her job, she won’t even get any help from the government after paying all the taxes. It is better to be poor then and receive dole-outs than to pay your taxes. The welfare culture breeds laziness and entitled “poor” who refuse to get a job.

      • Abdul Jakhul on

        Hello JDR, Assalamu Alaikum!

        This Filipino understands nationalistic– a strong feeling or belief in superiority of one’s country over others and I would not blame if Trump fells the way and he should be. Historically, early settlers in America were the Aztecs, Incas, and other large populations of Natives Americans. Therefore, Trump is not protecting the early settlers as you indicated. The U.S. as a Nation of Immigrants, because its citizens came from all over the globe and this is what makes the U.S. great, its diversity. This sneak attack of Trump may backfire, if not handled constitutionally and legally correct.

        There will always be obligations living in a democratic countries such as in the U.S. that death and paying taxes are guaranteed. However, benefits are also great such as having access to education, healthcare, jobs, owning your own big house, and driving luxury cars if you wish. Most citizens from Islamic Countries that wanted to immigrate in the U.S. is because of freedom and economic reasons.