As I write this, the Executive Order has been in place almost exactly 1 week. I have given several updates, and I have another to give, but first I wanted to take a moment to explain the way the US public are dealing with the ban. The EO did not go unnoticed. There is a wave of public interest in the ban with support on both sides. There is much debate, and much acrimony between people over the ban. And that is from people who, very often, have no personal interest in immigration through a family member and so on. So – even though many of the 320 million residents have no “skin in the game”, many of them are discussing how we are treating people from abroad.
From a legal point of view, there are two competing legal principles, one (section 202(a) of the INA) is designed to stop discrimination against certain groups (such as sex, religion, place of birth). On the other side, another law (I US Code 1182) gives the President power to suspend or restrict classes of aliens form entering if that is in the best interest of the USA. Those two laws are somewhat at odds with each other, so the only way to sort that out is letting lawyers battle it out and have judges decide which law is more powerful. That takes time, and in the meantime, the government staff have to follow orders (unless they KNOW those orders are illegal).
In the USA, public opinion is split. There are many that have taken to protesting the unfairness of the ban, and there are many that believe the ban is a “sensible temporary measure” to maintain the security of the country. I think overall the anti ban sentiment is more common than pro ban, but many see this as a mere inconvenience, since the administration describes it as a temporary ban. But then I live in California, which is left leaning, but there are large parts of this country that would support Trump, whatever he does, so my experience may not be representative. Polls taken nationally though do show that Trump has the lowest approval ratings of any president for many years – and the EO is likely to re-affirm that feeling.
KCC and the embassy staff work for the government. They follow the laws of the country, but are managed on a day to day basis by their bosses who ultimately report to (at the top of the tree), the President of the USA (often referred to as “POTUS”). So, again, they have to implement his order to the best of their ability until they KNOW it to be illegal. There is a rule that says visas should not be issued to someone that is ineligible to enter the USA. So, since the embassy staff and KCC work for POTUS, they immediately cancelled all interviews for people affected by the ban AND revoked visas for people that had attended immigrant interviews and had been approved/issued. So, if a DV case had been approved and issued a visa to enter the USA, but had not yet entered to activate their LPR status, they suddenly found themselves with cancelled visas. I don’t know how many DV cases or derivatives were affected by that, but as a guess I would guess the number to be hundreds of people. Remember, all those people had been vetted, had their medicals, passed their interviews, and paid their fees. I always in the past have told people to consider themselves “safe” when the visas were in their hands. Now even that advice has turned out to be incorrect. Some of these visas will expire during this ban and that leaves people in an impossible situation. It’s utterly regrettable. I don’t blame the embassies or KCC for implementing the rules, but I think it is a horribly cruel outcome.
On Wednesday of this week a Federal Judge ordered (you can read about that here) that people in that position (i.e. people holding valid immigrant visas) must be allowed to enter the USA and therefore activate their LPR status. Other judges had already ruled that affected Green Card holders (LPRs) should be allowed to enter, so this judge made a common sense and correct decision to extend that position that had been fully approved. That should be the correct position. However, I have been watching the KCC page and asking people affected in this way and up to now, there has been now change in the official position from KCC. Their position is published on their webpage here.
Now, I am mindful that KCC have a job to do and that work won’t be made easier by lots of people calling to ask about this. So DON’T do that – don’t waste their time asking questions because of your impatience.
However, I felt this morning I had to try and get some information so I called KCC to ask them two important questions.
- Will the revoked visas now be re-instated, thus allowing people to enter the USA.
- If not, what will happen to those cases once the ban is lifted (after the 90 days or if lifted earlier).
So I spoke to a nice lady by the name of Francis (possibly Frances – sorry!). They have a tough job, and they have to take a lot of calls from some very concerned people who are actual selectees, so I explained who I was (i.e. “Simon from the BritSimonSays”) and I was grateful she took a few minutes to listen and talk with me. She listened to my question patiently, then put me on hold while speaking to a supervisor. Her answer after the hold was that they can only answer as they are directed, and that their position will be updated on the webpage I linked to above. So for now, that is all they can say. Again, there is no point asking them the same question. I asked, and they have told me all they know. When they know more, they will post it.
The situation is fast moving and whilst judges can make legally enforceable decisions, other judges can disagree. So again, it’s about waiting for legal battles to clarify the position.
As a funny side note, Francis told me that the staff at KCC generally know about BritSimonSays and they appreciate that I am trying to help. I offered my personal contact details in case they ever felt the need to correct me and she said that wasn’t necessary as they don’t usually think I am that wrong on my interpretation. That made me chuckle, and I am pleased that at least they don’t see me as an annoyance, providing bad information. Over the last few years I might have seemed critical of their methods (the bad IT rollouts and the stubbornness built into the VB progression), but I have always understood they are just doing their job within a set of rules and they do the best they can. So THANKS to Francis and the team at KCC!!! Maybe I can send them some BritSimonSays.com T-shirts!!! 🙂