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New England Lawyers Ready To Respond To Revised Immigration Executive Order

Mar 6, 2017

Volunteer lawyers in Boston are standing by Monday in anticipation of the impact of President Donald Trump's revised executive order halting travel for immigrants from six Muslim-majority nations. The president's existing order was put on hold by federal courts. The new order was signed on Monday, and goes into effect on March 16.

The New England chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said it's ready to assist immigrants flying into Logan International Airport in Boston who may be affected by the executive order.

Susan Church heads up the group. She said they're hopeful the impact to travelers will not be as widespread as was the case in late January when there was nationwide confusion and some travelers were turned away from flights headed to the United States. Still, they're not taking any chances.

"We will be available to their family members to try to help them assist their family members who are stuck in processing, and we will be available maybe to go to court again if necessary,” Church said.

The new order does not impact visa and green card holders, but does seek to temporarily halt refugee admissions.

Church said that time is of the essence for immigrants who are currently abroad and attempting to enter the United States.

“If you are about to have a visa and it's approved, then you should come to the United States quickly so that there are no further amendments or delays to your situation, and consult with a lawyer before traveling,” Church said. “At this point in time the situation is chaotic, it's uncontrolled, and we don't know what's going to happen next."

Trump's first order was suspended for about a month because it faces several lawsuits for violating constitutional rights, like freedom of religion.

Victoria Roeck of the Yale Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic in New Haven, Connecticut helped file one of those lawsuits. Roeck said the new order may also violate the constitution.

“We believe that this second executive order is still a Muslim ban,” Roeck said. “It does not erase a long string of anti-Muslim comments by President Trump and we do not believe it is immune to court challenges.”

The White House loosened restrictions on Iraq, leaving Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya on the list of targeted countries.

Fewer Refugees

The new executive order keeps Trump’s call to reduce the number of refugees from about 110,000 to 50,000.

Chris George is the Executive Director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, or IRIS, a refugee resettlement agency in New Haven.

George said the order’s greatest impact could be on refugees.

“It is banning 60,000 refugees who we originally promised would come to the United States,” George said.

The order also halts the national refugee resettlement program for the next four months.

The program has already welcomed about 40,000 people this fiscal year. George said that means only 10,000 more refugees would come between now and September.

WNPR's Ryan Caron King contributed to this report.