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In the wake of immigration order, legal questions loom

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media
The Islamic Society of Delaware hosted a cultural orientation Saturday about Syrian culture.

The legal status of a Syrian family originally scheduled to arrive in the First State next week remains unknown, still in the hands of the ACLU.


Meanwhile, several federal cases have called into question the legality of Trump’s executive order barring U.S. entry for individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as refugees.

Wilmington immigration attorney Nina Qureshi says some legal questions about the executive order could halt its enforcement altogether. One centers on the provision that religious minorities would be more favorably considered for re-entry into the United States.


Qureshi also says forcing refugees and immigrants arriving at airports back to unsafe territories may also violate their rights.


“Because when someone enters the United States, if they fear returning to their country – they have the right to request asylum or what’s called withholding removal or convention against torture," Qureshi said. "And these people – if they were going to be put right back on a plane and sent back to their country where they fear for their lives, that would be infringing on their due process rights and also the immigration laws of the U.S.”

Qureshi calls the executive order “unprecedented," noting this ban on incoming refugees is a month longer than the one imposed immediately after 9/11.


She says several of her clients from the seven countries affected by the executive order are having a hard time bringing relatives to the United States.

Those clients are either legal permanent US residents or US citizens  - and now their spouses and children are in limbo.


“We don’t know – everything right now is kind of up in the air when these people are going to be able to bring their loved ones into the country.”

Not only that, but applications for US citizenship from those seven countries are also on hold.


One couple – legal US permanent residents – were out of the country when the executive order was announced.


“They were out of the country and we were talking to their family members saying, well, as of now you can’t come back in," she said.

Qureshi says that while the ban originally applied to even legal residents, they’re now being re-considered for entry on a case-by-case basis.

However, non-immigrant visas for those from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia or Sudan - used for temporary work or study - have also been revoked.


Another group Qureshi is representing that could be affected by Trump policy: several DACA “Dreamers” who fear their immigration status is at risk under Trump’s administration. DACA was created by the Obama administration to authorize immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors to remain in the country study or work by deferring any deportation action against them.  


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