In another example of increased restriction on the rights of non-U.S. Citizens, on Thursday, April 27, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) published a policy memorandum limiting the privacy rights of immigrants and foreign nationals under the Federal Privacy Act of 1974.  This new guidance was issued to bring DHS policy in line with President Trump’s January 25 executive order.

The Privacy Act was established to govern the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of personally-identifiable information maintained by federal agencies.  The Privacy Act, with specific exceptions, prohibits disclosure of such records without the consent of the individual.  It also provides individuals a means to access and amend their records.

Previous DHS guidance stated that such personally-identifiable information would be treated the same, regardless of citizenship.  However, consistent with the January 25 executive order, the new guidance provides that immigrants and nonimmigrant foreign nationals may not utilize these provisions and may only access their information through a request made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Additionally, they may not request amendments of their records.  Furthermore, in connection with the new guidance, DHS stated that it permits the sharing of such information about immigrants and nonimmigrant foreign nationals from agency records with federal, state and local law enforcement.

In response to the current Administration’s “citizen-centric” policies, we are seeing an increased interest in applications for naturalization by U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents.

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.