Travel Ban Executive Order Enforcement
February 2, 2017 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience or information about how the Executive Order banning travelers from seven countries operates on the ground for 1) people who are not from a country subject to the immigration ban but are from a Muslim country, 2) are long-term valid green card holders, and 3) returning to the U.S. from Mexico (or Europe, or any country aside from the 7 countries subject to the ban).

My soon-to-be in-laws are green card holders from Pakistan who live in the United States. I know Pakistan is not currently on the list of countries subject to the travel ban. I know people with green cards are supposed to be considered differently than travelers from listed countries who are traveling to the U.S. on a visa. But, I also know that people who are not from listed countries have been detained and green card holders are not automatically admitted.

I'm looking for information (even anecdotes) about how the ban might operate on the ground if my in-laws are returning to the U.S. from a third country. Specifically, my fiance and I are getting married in March in Mexico and I wondered if you might know how green card holding brown folk with passports issued from a country off the list are being treated. I have an immigration lawyer here but that's less helpful if they are being wrongfully detained in Mexico and denied access to a lawyer. I would like to go back to stressing out about my mom going rogue and inviting randoms to my small wedding, because worrying about whether my father-in-law will get detained and won't have access to the things that keep him out of congestive heart failure is keeping me sleepless.
posted by *s to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Anecdata: my cousin is Sri Lankan, and wears hijab. She and her husband hold green cards and they've lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade. Their teenage son had stayed home in LA with family because of school. They were detained for about seven hours returning from vacationing in Dubai, and were ultimately allowed to leave LAX.

I don't know how other POC from Muslim countries are being handled, but I've heard reports of green-card holders being detained but not outright banned from entering. YMMV.
posted by Everydayville at 10:58 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't want to be alarmist, but honestly I would recommend that your inlaws not leave the country right now. This article from the NYT suggests the situation is still very uncertain/chaotic. While your inlaws are not from one of the currently listed countries, things are very unpredictable right now and who knows if the EO could be changed/countries added while they are out of the country. Probably they would eventually be able to get back (personally I think the ban will eventually be struck down, but that will take time), but with serious health conditions to contend with, it seems like a lot of risk.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:21 AM on February 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

Just in a random sampling from my Twitter feed yesterday: a Trinidadian with a green card and a Costa Rican with a green card, held most of the day without phone and told they had no right to a lawyer. I know from Pakistani-American friends that the risk of "special screening" has always been prevalent, but I would not gamble an elderly man with health issues on it anymore.

Frankly, if it was me I would cancel the wedding and do something here instead. (Who even knows if US citizens will be able to travel to Mexico without issue by then?)
posted by Lyn Never at 11:28 AM on February 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Notes from a recent talk with legal experts on the treatment of Muslims in immigration:

Right now, about citizens (but surely applying to green card holders as well):

Multiple reports of US Citizens who are perceived as Muslim moved into secondary screening and held for some measure of time.

Anecdotes of individuals who are US Citizens and NOT from one of the 7 countries are being given increased screening, asked about social media use & presence online, being asked to open electronic devices to show border agent information, and having information copied off of their electronic devices. In 2008 and before this was standard behavior if you "looked muslim;" this is something that is a re-run of Bush era behavior of customs

Future possible expansion:

Things that might happen in the future:

a. US might consider extending it to other countries
i. in the past, other similar programs installed with a smaller list of 7 countries then expanded over time
ii. if you are a visa holder from the country in the NSEERS list of 25 countries, think very carefully before leaving the US because of this pattern of expansion, and there is likely to be little or no warning if the ban does expand.


On-the-ground immigration enforcement varies widely.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:31 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would like to go back to stressing out about my mom going rogue and inviting randoms to my small wedding, because worrying about whether my father-in-law will get detained and won't have access to the things that keep him out of congestive heart failure is keeping me sleepless.

And not facts, but just my opinion: not worth the risk. I think you are very right to be worried and I would not suggest that anyone medically fragile who "looks Muslim" subject themselves to US Customs right now. I am so sorry that this is affecting your wedding plans.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh, and I forgot to add. I am South Asian, born in the Middle East. I am not remotely identifiable as Muslim (nor am I religious as a matter of personal beliefs) except for an Arabic name because my family is Muslim. My fiance is a born US citizen (black) and so is my son. I have an unconditional green card and have been eligible for citizenship since 2008.

I get detained every time I return from anywhere, Europe, Asia, South America when I travel for work, with work credentials and and letters from my employer - and the last time I traveled, Obama was still POTUS. As far as I, or immigration lawyers, or even customs officials can tell, there is nothing administratively wrong with my green card - they just detain me for hours and I sit in a room with no phone or paperwork until someone sees fit to let me leave. If you saw me on the street, you'd think by my speech, clothing and carriage that I was born and raised in a Western country. It sucks.

Now that I have my infant son, I am terrified of being separated from him and will not leave the country until my citizenship is finalized. There is too much to lose right now to assume this risk, unfortunately.
posted by Everydayville at 11:37 AM on February 2, 2017 [12 favorites]

I am black, African, non Muslim, and have never been detained/questioned/interrogated etc anywhere in North America or Europe. Except that one time I was wearing a Jelaba while entering France and Customs stopped me. That was 30 years ago.

A former colleague is black, African, Muslim, and always gets detained/questioned/pulled aside/ at Western borders before eventually being let in.

I think being or looking Muslim definitely attracts extra scrutiny.
posted by Kwadeng at 6:58 AM on February 3, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who responded here and via MeMail. We are not going to cancel the wedding because then the terrorists win (and the rest of the family and friends who have already bought airline tickets from Canada and Europe and elsewhere in the U.S. will be let down). We will, however, keep monitoring the situation and see if it makes sense to even risk the extreme secondary inspection.
posted by *s at 10:06 AM on February 3, 2017

Some friends of my wife, who like her are Japanese citizens with a US Green Card, both got detained for multiple hours re-entering the country this past week. They were let in eventually, of course, but it does sound like things are a little crazy/confusing at the moment even for people who are supposedly completely unaffected by the order.
posted by thefoxgod at 7:00 PM on February 3, 2017

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