President Donald Trump's executive order limiting the flow of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries into the U.S. has left many immigrants in limbo this weekend. Federal judges have ruled to temporarily halt Trump's ban, which prevents the entry of any refugees for 120 days, bans citizens of seven Muslim countries for 90 days, and blocks Syrian refugees indefinitely, but right now it is unclear whether these rulings will require detainees to be admitted into the U.S. As of now, the White House has reportedly reversed its position on green card holders, saying that they will be admitted to the country. A statement from Homeland Security, though, is not making people any less fearful: "The Department of Homeland Security will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people." This has left many immigrants and refugees from the seven countries included in Trump's ban — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia — scrambling to understand their rights. Here's what immigrants and refugees need to know to keep themselves safe.
The U.S. Constitution includes protection for refugees.Michael Wishney from Yale Law told Teen Vogue that foreign nationals, including refugees, are protected under U.S. law. The minute they are on American soil they have the right to due process and to be "free of invidious discrimination based on race or religion."
Refugees also have rights under international law.According to UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, the 1951 Refugee Convention is the "key legal document" that outlines the rights of refugees. This "customary international law" states that refugees should not be returned to a country where they are likely to have their life and freedoms threatened.
Demand to speak to an attorney.
United We Dream recommends that if an officer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows up to your door with a warrant — you don't have to open your door without them having one — ask for an attorney. Anything you do say can be used against you, which is why it's best to let an attorney handle all aspects of your case. They can make sure you get a hearing, which you are entitled to. The government will not pay or provide you with a lawyer, but immigration should provide you with a list of free or low-cost legal representation. If you see a judge before finding representation you can ask for more time.