​Orlando immigration attorney: Confusion at OIA after Trump’s executive order on immigration

By Veronica Brezina | Staff Writer Orlando Business Journal
Posted Jan 31, 2017

President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration is causing a legal uproar in Central Florida, as well as other parts of the nation.

“The order involving the travel and visa issuance ban is unconstitutional,” Shahzad Ahmed, a senior immigration attorney at Orlando-based law firm NeJame Law, told Orlando Business Journal. "It violates the equal protection clause because it treats various classes of individuals differently. It also violates the due process clause by expelling people from the airports even though they have visas. This executive order excludes many innocent people via a dragnet, instead of the people with security threats who are the intended targets of the order.”

The order, which Trump signed on Jan.27, suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. The program admits refugees from overseas. In addition to the program being suspended, it also bars people from seven Muslim-majority designated countries — Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — from entry into the U.S. for 90 days. There may be a possibility of more countries being added to the list.

Ahmed said because the wording is so broad, even if you are not a national of the listed countries, if you travel there, you may be barred from entry into the U.S during the 90-day period.

Ahmed added that the order is causing confusion at the Orlando International Airport, which detained three people on Jan. 29 due to the order. “The word I have received from the agencies is that there is confusion. They are unsure of how to implement certain aspects of this order. For example, the order bars immigrant visa and non-immigrant visa holders. But are green card holders (who are also considered immigrants) included in the ban? The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is having to deal with the vagueness of the executive order,” Ahmed told OBJ.

A peaceful protest was held at OIA on Jan. 29, where hundreds of people came out to support refugees and immigrants. The areas in Florida currently implementing the executive order include Miami, Orlando and Port Canaveral for its cruises.

Although Ahmed was not able to provide the exact number of refugees in Orlando, he said there is a significant Arabic community here, including refugees and asylees. “A wife of a U.S. permanent resident and national of Iran has been calling me worried, because her husband traveled to Iran, and during his absence, the ban went into effect. He is supposed to return today at the Boston airport, then Orlando. They have two children in the U.S. and the whole family is worried."

He also said the executive order is being challenged legally and publicly. There are lawsuits being filed and other members of the community are speaking out against this ban. Ahmed said he’s optimistic that it will be found unconstitutional and this aspect of the executive order will be struck down.

OIA executives couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.

Source: Orlando Business Journal