2017 Immigration Issues

All individuals entering the U.S. at international ports of entry are inspected by US Customs & Border Protection (CBP).  This occurs at either the arrival airport in the U.S., Pre-Flight Inspection if flying from most Canadian airports, or border crossings into the U.S. from either Canada or Mexico.  This is an inspection to determine the individual’s eligibility to legally enter the U.S., as well as to confirm any necessary customs declarations or possession of contraband.

Because of the unique nature of the border or port of entry inspection and the concern over national security, U.S. law gives CBP officers wide latitude in how to conduct the inspection, including verbal questioning, inspection of luggage, and, lately, even inspection and retention of electronic devices. Usually, the inspection process is quick and painless. However, since the administration’s recent attempts to ban certain individuals from entering the country in the name of national security, CBP officers have reportedly been reaching beyond the normal procedures to search people’s phones and compel individuals to unlock their smartphone as a part of the search. Not only are border agents doing cursory searches, as in thumbing through an individual’s phone, but in some instances, they will dig deeper and download the contents of the device onto their own computer system and run forensic search algorithms to reveal all the data, including deleted files that have not yet been overwritten and metadata that the owner did not know was there. Case law for this kind of search is undeveloped, so an individual’s rights against this invasion of privacy are not clear until challenged in court.

Below are some FAQs to help you through this process if you face additional scrutiny.  These questions and responses have been formulated with the best information available, but you should know that in any given situation, CBP officers may expand the inspection process subjecting you or your possessions to additional scrutiny.

Continue Reading FAQs for Entering the U.S.—Entry Inspection and Electronic Devices

A new travel restriction went into effect at 3:00 am EST on Tuesday barring passengers on foreign airlines coming to the United States from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone. According to Department of Homeland Security, the restricted items that cannot be in carried-on luggage include laptop computers, travel printers, and electronic games bigger than a cellphone. These items can only be carried in checked baggage. To learn who is impacted and who is not impacted, continue reading!

Continue Reading US and UK Limit the Size of Electronic Devices in Carry-On Luggage in Airplanes Originating from Eight Muslim-Majority Countries

Just hours before President Trump’s new Executive Order or “Muslim Travel Ban” was to become effective, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii issued a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the ban from being implemented on a national basis. The TRO was issued based on Judge Watson’s determination that the new Executive Order violated the Constitution’s First Amendment protections against religious discrimination and relied heavily on statements made by President Trump on the campaign trail and statements by Trump policy advisor Stephen Miller that the intent of the ban is to ban Muslims. President Trump vows to fight the ruling to the Supreme Court. Next stop: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals!

For other recent content from the Mintz Levin Immigration Practice, click here.

On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order (“EO”), Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, revoking the prior EO 13679 signed on January 27, 2017. EO 13679 included, among other provisions, a 90 day suspension of U.S. visa issuance and entry into the U.S. for individuals from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. EO 13679 also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, suspended Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely, and reduced the number of refugee admissions to 50,000 during Fiscal Year 2017.

EO 13679 was successfully challenged in the federal courts and enforcement of portions remain halted. See our previous alerts relating to EO 13679 and subsequent updates here. This new EO is more narrowly drawn than EO 13679, restricting travel for individuals from certain countries identified as posing potential national security risks.

The March 6 Executive Order, which will become effective on March 16, 2017, revokes EO 13679 and implements a host of measures. To review these measures, click here to read our full alert.

On February 9, 2017, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously against the Government’s emergency motion to stay the District Court’s Temporary Restraining Order (the “TRO”) halting the implementation of major portions of President Trump’s January 27th Executive Order. (See our previous alerts on the order here, or click here to view a video featuring Susan Cohen, Chair of Mintz Levin’s Immigration Practice.)  Therefore, the TRO remains in effect and travel to the U.S. by individuals from the seven designated countries is governed by the same laws as existing before the Executive Order.

To read the full alert, click here.