Who Is Banned from the U.S. this Week?

Update: Grandparents are no longer banned.

Reuters has published a leaked State Department cable outlining who cannot get a visa to the U.S. under the new Muslim ban.

In particular, refugee admission from the six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) has been suspended for the next 120 days. “Close family” has been defined to exclude the following:  grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés, and any other “extended” family members.

The ban takes effect tomorrow.

Resisting the #MuslimBan

Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Friday, purporting to suspend the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days, with certain exceptions; suspend the admission of Syrian refugees for an undefined period; and suspend entry of lawful permanent residents, refugees, and non-immigrants, such as visitors and students, from certain Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Somalia) for at least 90 days.

Since then, thousands of protestors, upon hearing about the detention of travelers to the United States, have taken to occupying airports, while lawyers are working overtime to get legal help for people detained at airports. Below, I share some travel tips for people, and families of those from designated countries.

1. If detained at a CA airport under Executive Order, call local ACLU hotline:

SFO 415-621-2488
LAX 213-977-5245
SAN 619-398-4485

2. A federal district judge in New York has stayed the Executive Order. The stay is temporary but effective immediately and nationwide, and is an order to CBP to not remove people under the Executive Order (and should also extend to those who are trying to enter the U.S.). If your non-citizen family or friends are traveling from countries that have been designated on the list (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen), tell them to print out a copy of the stay order and carry it on them: http://documents.latimes.com/deportations-stay-trump/.

If non-citizens continue to be harassed, detained, interrogated, tell them to make copious notes and get names and details of how long they waited, what happened, who they spoke to and precisely what was said. Keep demanding access to counsel and not sign anything.

Lawyers for other families who are detained can use the pleadings filed in the New York case so they do not need to reinvent the wheel.

Additional orders issued by judges:

3. Anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being “from” the designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country, as well as a non-designated country.

4. For lawful permanent residents, DHS is admitting people on a case by case basis, following additional and invasive screenings. Any green card holders from designated countries should make sure not to sign the I-407/ Record of abandonment of lawful permanent residence. CBP officers often coerce and deceive people into doing this as a condition of release from detention. If detained for extended periods, people should similarly, take notes, take names, ask for their lawyer, ask to speak to the Congressional representative, and demand to see an immigration judge.

5. People from designated countries, even dual nationals, should try to not travel abroad at this time, unless one absolutely must. Reports indicate that people abroad are not being allowed to board airplanes (even with visas) and even visa interviews for citizens of these countries have been canceled (with the exception of those who hold diplomatic visas).

6. Contact your Congressperson:

If you know who your representative is but you are unable to contact them using their contact form, the Clerk of the House maintains addresses and phone numbers of all House members and Committees, or you may call (202)225-3121 for the U.S. House switchboard operator.

7. For those persecuted in their home countries or fear of persecution in countries CBP would return them to, individuals should speak to their lawyers to discuss claims to asylum and demand a credible fear interview at ports of entry.

8. There are some rumors that USCIS will stop processing applications for naturalization, work permits, travel permits, green card renewals, and other immigration benefits for people from these designated countries. We are waiting for an official announcement. This is very clearly outside the scope of Presidential authority and the executive order, and will lead to many more lawsuits.

9. Media:

NY Times.  If you have been impacted by this Executive Order, willing to share your story with the media and public, the New York Times is asking for those stories to be shared with them via email to immigration@nytimes.com.

There are many other outlets looking for stories of people who have been impacted.

10. For everyone else, see you at the airports!

#NoBanNoWall#MuslimBan

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.

Is It Too Soon for ‘I Just Look Like a Terrorist’ T-shirts?

Coming of age in a post-9-11 America was an eye-opening experience that I have no intention of reliving in my 30s.

And yet, the hatred against Muslim, and perceived Muslims, has reached another level altogether (again), from Republican governors opposing Syrian refugees to Donald Trump’s ridiculous call to end all Muslim immigration. And now the U.S. is looking into more stringent measures against the immigrant fiancé visa process, as if immigrating to the U.S. is not already hard to do.

The immigration reform crowd is unhelpful–they think they are better than this, when in fact, we all know just how they are: useless. Nothing new to be said here, so keep following the failed strategy of naturalizing people to vote for Democrats, who in turn, don’t do anything differently. I am falling asleep as I type. The point is that American democracy is an oxymoron, but I digress.

The media, and our Democrat friends would like us to believe that the right-wing is the real problem. That they are so much better than all this. That they are so much more enlightened because they support DACA now, or the non-existent unicorn that is DAPA. Insert more meaningless acronyms here. But the hatred and violent scapegoating of others is not any different from Franklin Roosevelt interning the Japanese, Andrew Jackson wiping out indigenous peoples, Barack Obama dropping drones on Pakistani children, and Jimmy Carter banning immigration from Iran.

There’s a lack of value for people of color lives here. The myths and legends continue: Muslims didn’t die in 9/11; were not among the first responders; are never the victims of mass shootings, and there is no active effort to wipe out Palestinians.

And if you are Muslim or perceived as a Muslim, you are fully expected to adopt respectability politics. Denounce violence done in the name of Islam, ridicule other countries, and faiths, and wave the American flag.

Then, there are the “We are all Muslims” crowd. I would rather not waste any time of these people. No, we are not all Muslims. Fact: Some of us, especially those of us with turbans, beards and brown skin, are perceived as more Muslim than others.

Friends from abroad often ask me why there is so much anti-immigrant sentiment in America, when it is supposedly a country of immigrants. After all, it was supposedly built by immigrants (and chattel slavery), but they don’t necessarily like newer immigrants who do not assimilate or bow down to their idea of integration. Perhaps, they feel immigrants will do what they did to the original inhabitants of this land: wipe them out. There’s a lot of insecurity and projection. They hate immigrants, because we are different from them. Because we are not like them.

Yes, we are different. I have no problem with that. Our food has more flavour; our movies are more colourful; our skins more beautiful; and our tongues are far sharper. And thank goodness for all that. Because really, who would want to be like this?

Couch-Potato

Everyone is supposed to be better than this. Few are though.

 

Pretextual Airport Stops

 

Recently, while traveling from Washington D.C. to sunny Florida, Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) sent me to secondary inspection at the airport. Apparently, my bag had an object that they could not identify.

They asked me to identify the object on the screen and I was baffled. It was deep in my 50 gallon backpack, and I could not remember what I had stuffed at the bottom.

The TSA officer asked me whether I was carrying sea salts. I didn’t know at the time what that meant, so I blurted out that I had been to the beach lately.

She looked at me like I had grown two heads, and asked me whether it could be bath salts. Again, I was confused and told her I had no idea what she meant. And even if I was carrying sea salts or bath salts, what was the problem with carrying salt?

The TSA officer started to unpack my bag, examining each item meticulously. Finally, she got to the bottom of bag and found the offending object:

 

Bananagrams

Bananagrams!

My partner is a bananagrams lover, and I was carrying a brand new bananagrams pack that I had recently bought for her. The TSA officer did not appear amused, and asked me to break the seal. I told her it was a gift for my wife, which was probably not a good idea to blurt out either, but she insisted that I open the bag. So I opened it, and revealed a bunch of new tiles.

At this point, over 20 minutes had elapsed, and we were about to miss our flight. Taking pity on me, she finally packed my bag and let me scamper off to find my flight.

My partner, who is a white woman, had the job of carrying the bananagrams on the way back from Florida. She somehow got through the checkpoint without any trouble.

Pro tip: Give all your oddly shaped items to your white friends to carry at airport checkpoints. Alternatively, stop looking like a queer South Asian boi.

#BlackLivesMatter

BlackLivesMatter

The system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect. – W.E.B. Dubois

Marissa Alexander will spend more time in prison for not killing anyone than the person who shot an unarmed, young, black man, Michael Brown.

The grand jury failed to indict anyone, much less Darren Wilson. When does that ever happen? That rarely ever happens, and in fact, it is very likely that the 108 day wait that Mike Brown’s family endured was not to make the decision, but to bury it.

But the amazing protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, and the solidarity protesters around the country refused to let it go, refused to stand down in the face of injustice.

Racism is insidious, institutional and pervasive. We must acknowledge it before we can eradicate it. Last night, McCullogh proved that to the people of the U.S. Last night, the first African-American President of the U.S. fumbled and hammed through a half-hearted and ineffective speech. Where is his outrage as a black man in America?

People are outraged, and rightly so.

Much love and healing to Michael Brown’s family.

The struggle continues.