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DHS Secretary Kelly: Entry of Green Card Holders is “In National Interest”

January 30, 2017

According to multiple reports, President Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, had not fully-reviewed the travel ban signed by President Trump on Friday, despite the fact that his agency would be largely tasked with implementing the ban. Further, there appears to have been disagreement about whether or not the ban should be extended to include Legal Permanent Residents (“green card” holders) from the affected countries, with Steve Bannon – President Trump’s chief adviser, who has come under fire for his ties to white nationalism – successfully arguing that Permanent Residents should  be included in the ban.

But on Sunday, after days of protests against the ban at airports all across the country, Secretary Kelly issued a statement that – if followed by CBP officers – should allow affected Permanent Residents who are currently abroad to re-enter the United States. From the Los Angeles Times:

“I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest,” Kelly wrote.

Green card holders from one of the seven countries covered by the 90-day ban will still need to request a waiver to gain reentry to the U.S. if they have traveled abroad. But unless officials have “significant derogatory information” about a green card holder that indicates “a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor” in deciding the case, Kelly’s statement said.

A White House official, briefing reporters about the change in policy, said that about 170 people have applied for a waiver to the ban so far, and all 170 have received a waiver and have been allowed to enter the U.S.

Despite this new guidance from Secretary Kelly, all refugees and anyone from one of the affected countries – including Legal Permanent Residents and dual nationals – should consult an immigration attorney before making plans to travel abroad.


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