September 15, 2023

The Immorality of DACA’s “Illegality”

[Cross-post from Aoki Center Blog]

By Raquel E. Aldana

Two thousand and one marked the introduction of the first DREAMER legislation in the U.S. Congress. Over the next two decades, at least a dozen versions of bills would be introduced to attempt to regularize the status of DREAMERS, a term that describes around two million persons in irregular immigration status brought to the United States as children. Despite consistent and broad support for DREAMER legislation, the closest Congress came to passing the legislation was in 2010 when it passed the House but fell just five votes short of the 60 needed to proceed in the Senate.

Few other stories of failed legislation in recent U.S. history exemplify the perils of congressional dysfunction like the fate of Dreamers in the U.S. Congress. One significant peril has been the human toll on millions of deserving young people who are American except by birth. Another is the strain on U.S. democracy when its elected leaders refuse to take moral action to rectify wrongs even in the face of strong public support for them to do so. [1]

In 2012, the Obama Administration’s imperfect response to this congressional moral failure came in the form of a Department of Homeland Security [DHS] Memorandum that created DACA (Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals). DACA provided respite from deportation to certain DREAMERS who qualified under the program’s guidelines, an estimated 1.7 million. Ultimately, fewer applied but the numbers reached as high as 814,000 by 2018, and 578,680were still active by March 2023.

DHS relied on its prosecutorial discretion powers to issue DACA. It also employed rational pragmatism and humanity to grant worth authorization to DACA recipients. Without work authorization, DACA recipients would be expected to live in the shadows of U.S. society, not only in despair but also exploitable. It is worth noting that at its discretion, and for humanitarian reasons, DHS grants work authorization to foreign nationals awaiting adjudication of their immigration status or who are under temporary forms of protections in recognition that protection from deportation, even when temporary, without an ability to work, is no protection at all.

Now, Judge Andrew Hanen seizes on DACA’s longevity and its accompanying work authorization, to declare it illegal. To be exact, Judge Hanen, with the Fifth Circuit’s blessing, first found the 2012 DHS Memorandum creating DACA illegal at its tenth anniversary. The same year, in 2021, the Biden administration attempted to “preserve and fortify” DACA’s legality by enacting a formal rule. But to Judge Hanen, the rule may have fixed the irregularities of how DACA came to be (adopted without notice and comment) but did not address what he, and the Fifth Circuit, consider DACA’s substantive flaws. Then on September 13, 2013, Judge Hanen declared  the new Biden rule similarly illegal, leaving the ultimate fate of DACA in the hands of the Fifth Circuit and likely the U.S. Supreme Court. What, exactly, is said to be illegal about DACA? According to Judge Hanen and the Fifth Circuit, DACA violates the Administrative Procedures Act [APA] and the Take Care clause of the U.S. Constitution because its issuance exceeds DHS’s statutory authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Fifth Circuit must now decide whether it agrees with Judge Hanen that the new DACA rule, just like the 2012 Memorandum, exceeds DHS’s statutory authority. Ultimately, the issue is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will be an arbiter of yet another issue with potentially dire consequences for the lives of millions in this country.

One saving grace of this unfortunate litigation saga is that Judge Hanen and the Fifth Circuit, while enjoining new DACA applications after finding the program unlawful, have spared current DACA recipients from losing their vested status, at least until the issue is adjudicated definitively on the merits. This is significant to the well-being and livelihood of over half a million current DACA holders who have relied on this status to build careers, gain professions, secure better pay, have families, acquire properties, and open businesses. Ideally, this recognition, at least for this group, could also have legal significance. It mattered to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020, at least, when it halted the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind DACA without a fair process. It should also matter when the Fifth Circuit or ultimately the Court interprets the Immigration and Nationality Act’s permissiveness to allow DHS’s issuance of DACA. Here, a Chevron deference that is informed by the principle of lenity should govern statutory interpretation. It is also not arbitrary and capricious, the APA’s substantive standard for agency action, for DHS to confer employment authorization for humanitarian and pragmatic reasons to those over whom it has exercised the discretion not to deport.

Of course, Congress can end the litigation by rendering it moot if and when it passes DREAMER legislation, or broader comprehensive immigration reform. Both the House and the Senate have current bipartisan bills protective of DACA recipients Congress consider for adoption quickly. As well, broader pieces of comprehensive immigration reform proposals have been on the table and ripe for consideration.  Meanwhile, it is hopeful that at some point as many as 22 states joined to support DACA in the litigation before the Fifth Circuit, in contrast to the 9 states that are seeking to end it. States as well have an important role to play in supporting DACA and all undocumented residents, but especially the hundreds of thousands of unDACAmented youth impacted by this litigation. This Higher ED Immigration Portal highlights examples of several state innovation to support DACA students. Institutions of higher learning can be creative in how to support access and affordability to universities and colleges. Civil society has a crucial role to play to push for reform and engage with the issue. The time is now. Sí se puede!


January 27, 2023

MLK and Border Justice

By Raquel E. Aldana, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Aoki Center on Critical Race and Nation Studies

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." – Dr. Martin Luther King

I write these reflections on January 16, 2023, the day we commemorate Martin Luther King’s (MLK) legacy and imperative for racial justice. I am fortunate to teach at the UC Davis School of Law, named after MLK. King Hall, the name we use to call our school, draws exceptional students, including many who are committed to MLK’s racial justice project. In our Asylum and Refugee Law seminar this semester, we spent last week setting the stage to understand the human tragedy occurring at our U.S.-Mexico border and sadly the numerous parallels of similar stories across the globe. In anticipation of MLK day, I shared with my students a page the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) created back in 2021 in which a handful of transcendent refugees – meaning they themselves received harbor and propelled their lives to elevate others—reflected on how MLK inspires their lives. I was struck by the MLK quotes they chose. In addition to quote above, two others caught my attention: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “America is essentially a dream, a dream yet unfulfilled.”

Two themes stand out for me in these quotes about today’s MLK-inspired racial justice imperative. The first is the universality and mutuality of the racial justice imperative. The second, more implied in its focus on the unfulfilled “American” dream, is the recognition that human rights begin at home. At first glance, these two themes may appear to conflict with one another. It could, for instance, mean that the universality and mutuality of the racial justice imperative that MLK espoused was bounded by borders, if only due to the pragmatic recognition of the enormity in the racial justice gaps present in MLK’s “America.” I take issue, however, with this bounded reading of MLK’s vision. Both then and now, “America” – an ironic use of the word that should name the continent and not a single nation within it – was a nation whose struggles for racial justice could not be disentangled from its global reality.

In 2016, the Huffpost wrote a piece titled Martin Luther King and Immigrant’s Rights. The piece discusses the paradox in how both those who promote restrictive borders and those who seek to open or erase them, claim MLK’s legacy as being on their side. The place of border justice – i.e., the treatment of freedom of movement as a fundamental right – as a racial justice project has not always been easy to name. This is, in part, because borders, not unlike prisons, have been used effectively to divide humanity between those who deserve justice and those who, due to their criminality or illegality, do not. The Huffpost piece, for example, recounts MLK’s efforts toward inclusivity when he wrote in a 1966 telegram to Cesar Chavez, the leader of the United Farm Workers (UFW), that our “separate struggles are really one.” Some would suggest that the Cesar Chavez and labor union’s own ambivalence over immigration, solidified a bounded inclusivity that prioritized the well-being of U.S. domestic workers in their search for racial justice. Except this explanation is too simplistic. For one, at the time, the UFW was comprised of a large force of undocumented workers. The problem, thus, was not the undocumented workers themselves but rather the system of laws, policies, and practices, that exploited the vulnerability of workers to create conflicts that directly compromised what should have been a joint project toward greater labor and workers right in this country. Overtime, labor unions would more fully understand the structural racism that permeated labor exploitation and to view borders as a tool for reinforcing such a system.

Today, MLK’s unfulfilled American dream for racial justice continue to weigh heavily on our shoulders. We are confronting an erasure of hard-fought civil rights gains in this country, sight unseen. Affirmative action and voting rights are threatened while racial disparities in income and other outcomes remain the most persistent features of U.S. society. It is understandable why the struggle for racial justice can turn us inward; except, in doing so, we can miss both nuance in analyzing the problem and its solutions or opportunities for global solidarity and action.

Take, for example, the dominant framing of asylum seekers form Mexico or Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, on Honduras). Many, though certainly not all, are fleeing terrible violence waged against them by gangs or narco-traffickers. When I traveled with a group of King Hall students to Tijuana in March of 2022, I heard horrifying stories that haunt me still today. Yet I knew that even if the border had not been shut due to Title 42, few to none would qualify for asylum, their plight dismissed as privatized violence over which we neither had a moral or legal responsibility. But all we must do is dig a little bit deeper to understand this framing is just wrong. For over five decades, we have waged a similarly tragic, racialized, and failed war on drugs in Latin America that has wreaked havoc to many nation’s institutions and severely damaged their capacity to contain corruption and violence. As well, the transnational roots of gangs began with U.S. policies of mass deportations of gang members to the region without regard to the havoc – both violence and threats to democracy-- it would cause to those countries. Just yesterday, for example, hundreds of Salvadorans took to the streets to commemorate thirty-one years to peace that ended a war that left over 75,000 dead. But they all also protested President Bukele’s authoritarian rule which has, among other worries, led to tens of thousands of arrests and scores of human rights violations against those accused of gang affiliations.   

Despite the above, in recent days, the tenor of the conversation between President Biden and Mexican President López Obrador, with focus on enforcement as a mean to control migration flows, remind me of the dangers of looking only inward when we think of racial justice. President Biden is under extreme domestic pressure to control the border, seemingly at any human cost. Over the years, border policies have contributed to thousands of migrant deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border, with 2022 being the worst year. Domestic calls for tough on immigration control at the border, often a bipartisan project, have deadly consequences. They are also shortsighted. They will not work because they fail to address the root causes of migration, which include externalities from or the exportation of domestic U.S. policies to Latin America whose casualties are the migrants at our Southern border whose suffering we fail to heed.

March 28, 2022

Opening the Border but Shutting the Door

[Cross-posted from ImmigrationProf Blog]

By Raquel Aldana

I sat across a group of Haitians at a small restaurant in Tijuana, La Antigüita Tamales. King Hall students had just finished legal consultations with them about their prospects for asylum in the U.S. We shared a meal and greeted each other as they talked amongst themselves in Creole. One of them asked me in good Spanish if I was with the group from the U.S. I nodded. Next week they will open the border, he said, and I will seek asylum. I smiled meekly and engaged him with his story. It weighed heavily on me to have to explain to him the many reasons why the predicted end of Title 42 (not official yet I cautioned him) would unlikely alter the course of his fate. But it seemed like since our arrival, my students and I could offer little hope to most asylum seekers that an open border meant an open door, at least to them.  

That morning alone I met two Mexican families facing terror in their own country. One young couple, with five young children, fled when a group threatened to kill them and their children. It proved too much when constant images of mutilated children landed on their phone daily for their alleged failure to pay a debt which had quadrupled in weeks when the terms of repayment shifted, and exuberant interests kicked in. Another mother was with her 22-year-old son who just two weeks ago had been kidnapped and tortured by a cartel and then released only to warn his family they would be killed if he and his younger brother failed to join them.  I tried my hardest to help these families prepare for an eventual credible fear interview. Attempting to fit their terror into the constraints of the nexus requirement proved frustrating and inhumane. For the parents, the why these cartels chose them and their children to terrorize seemed both irrelevant and obvious. I agreed. And yet, explaining the obvious, that these groups target the most vulnerable among them simply because they can, would not suffice under the immigration definition of particular social group. As we struggled together to construct a plausible particular social group, what should have been a slam dunk case became a low probability of success for U.S. asylum.        

Increasingly, most asylum seekers who fail to meet a dated and strict definition of asylum face cruel barriers and terrible odds even when they are allowed to make a claim. In El Salvador yesterday, a gang-related killing spree left 62 murdered in the streets in a single day. Most were vendors and other poor souls caught up in the terrible violence the government cannot or will not control. Neither the rates of the killings nor their cruelty was at all different from what Salvadoreans endured during the country’s other civil war. But then and now, Salvadoreans and Mexicans and Haitians and Guatemalans and Hondurans and many others facing so-called private forms of generalized terror encounter shut doors for asylum when they arrive at our borders. Remember when U.S. law turned a blind eye to domestic violence directed at women because it was so-called, a private sphere? This is not different. But there is nothing private about the violence asylum seekers from these nations are enduring. Their terror is in full public display and the root causes of it comes with public dirty hands, with our own nation bearing blame.

Our violent borders and our wars on drugs, fought inside and throughout the American hemisphere, are but two reasons why the U.S. government cannot simply dismiss the terror in these countries as privatized forms of violence we can ignore.

I set out to write a more celebratory blog. The past three days have been intense and, yet, during it, the enormous talent and commitment of eight King Hall students who traveled to Tijuana has been on full display. Over three days, Pamela, Jennifer, Michael, Vannalee, Monica, Lorena, Jazmine and Ivette met with over 150 migrants, some hoping to seek asylum, other hoping to return to their families and home after deportation. We came here with open eyes. We knew we would bear witness to trauma. We also knew we came bearing little hope from law. Despite this, the students did an amazing job with what they had and provided an enormous help to migrants. Sunday afternoon, for example, only two MPP cases remained; a Nicaraguan and a Colombian asylum seeker had hearings in two days, neither of them had lawyers. Over several hours, our students sat with them and helped draft a pro se case of how best to assert their claims. Each of our students has a story like that to share. They will share some of these stories and the insights they gleaned from their time in Tijuana on April 4 at Noon at King Hall, Room 1301 or over zoom. You can register here.

I want to close by acknowledging the heroes and sheroes we met in Tijuana. Among them, three amazing individuals deported from the US, Ester, Danny and Pricila, now run shelters, provide food, and otherwise support the legal and social needs of migrants. Our students fundraised for this cause, and we are sending donations to them to help them with their labor. It is not too late to add your grain of salt. You can do so here.  Finally, I want to thank Robert Irwin whose Humanizing Deportation Project set the stage for our work in Tijuana. I also want to thank King Hall for funding student travel, and the many other entities at UC Davis, like the Office for Public Scholarship and Engagement and the Global Migration Center for their amazing support.

June 23, 2021

Two Days at the Nogales Border

[Cross-posted from ImmigrationProf Blog]

Revised edition posted June 24, 2021

By Raquel Aldana

We parked our cars on the U.S. side of the border at an empty parking lot in the desolate, hot Sonoran desert landscape. We were a small team of four: a lawyer, a student legal intern, a community organizer, and I, a law professor from King Hall. I was there to volunteer with a small team of attorneys from Arizona which has been coming to the Nogales border for the past four years to provide legal orientations to asylum-seekers. In recent months, they have shifted the focus of their services to helping process hundreds of asylum seekers stranded in Mexico.

Our uneventful, uninterrupted, and unnoticed crossing by foot across the Mexican border made me conscious immediately of the vastly different experiences of human mobility across borders that we, as U.S. citizens, experience. I confess, however, that I subtly checked for the umpteenth time that my little blue U.S. passport was indeed in my backpack as I looked over the other side to the U.S. border I would be crossing back to later that day. As a Central American immigrant and naturalized citizen of nearly four decades, somehow that fleeing yet lingering feeling of outsider overtook me. I know it had a lot to do with my extremely personal identification with the migrants I would be meeting in the next two days. The chasm between the enormity of the circumstances that forced their displacement and the meager solutions we could offer them overwhelmed me.

The circumstances at the border have been fluid since the Biden administration took office. In theory, the border remains shut for asylum seekers based on so-called health reasons in response to the pandemic under Title 42. But now, a type of slightly less chaotic metering process was in place – one that essentially permitted migrants lucky enough to access non-profits “get in line” to be allowed to present themselves to the border to seek asylum in a process coordinated by different binational and/or international humanitarian organizations along the southern border. That was progress. When I was first trained by the Arizona non-profit’s border attorneys back in March of this year, only migrants with extreme and urgent humanitarian grounds for seeking parole, usually based on grave victimization in Mexico, could hope to enter. That process literally called for a sifting of trauma among a sea of trauma, and it felt hallow. This new process, which seemed mostly to create more filters, now in the hands of non-profits, to ensure that migrants both had a “fear of return” + a negative COVID-19 test or an active MPP case + a negative COVID-19 test before presenting themselves at the border, created some path to an otherwise shut border. Especially for those stuck in Mexico waiting for this moment, some for as long as two years, this provided renewed hope.

Hope is exactly what I encountered with at least nine of the ten migrants I met over the course of two days. Here are their brief profiles:[1] a Mexican mother of five and her husband who had made their living selling fruits and vegetables in the street until the extortionists threatened their lives and livelihood; a young Salvadorean couple and their toddler, fleeing after being forced to testify against a gang for a murder and who feared for their lives; a Honduran woman and her son running away from a gang-ridden after a family member was murdered; two adult siblings each running from different forms of violence: one from a much older, abusive husband to whom she had been married off as a child, forcing her to leave behind her children; the other from an extortionist gang he had been violently forced to join and who now sought to kill him for his desertion; a gay man from who had been nearly killed by three strangers who could not stand his homosexuality; and a Venezuelan refugee family who firmly resettled in Mexico but was now facing extortion from a gang who was threatening his livelihood in his new home. I felt that what I could offer them was so little: a kind ear to listen and validate their suffering, and my attempt to prepare them as much as possible for their journey if and when they made it to the other side. For some, I had to tell them they were ineligible for asylum and could only seek withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Others I had to prepare for the likely possibility of mandatory detention and tried to paint a picture for them as much as possible of this reality. For all, I had to inform them how hard it is to win asylum and how desperately they would need to secure a lawyer to even have a shot at winning. The only saving grace was that all of them had family in the U.S. I urged them to tell their family to identify a lawyer in anticipation of their arrival. In speaking to each of them, I realized how much hope is altered by our circumstances. Their desperation made them either ignore or accept with resignation my account of the reality that awaited them when they crossed the border. All but one remained resolute to cross the border. I fully understood it. One of them who was barred from asylum due to prior immigration history said to me, as he held his son sleeping soundly in his arms, “maybe a miracle will happen and they will grant me asylum.” His hope eclipsed my legal explanation of his ineligibility. At that, I could only smile as I touched his shoulder and caressed his little boy’s hand and wished him well.

I have spent over two decades of my professional career as a human rights lawyer and scholar trying to address the underlying causes of forced migration. I remember a priest who once described the phenomena of forced migration as the most visible expression of failed democracies, the type we can no longer ignore because their suffering has spilled across borders. I fully grasp the response of many in the U.S. who feel we simply cannot absorb all the world’s problems by accepting all refugees, no matter how awful their stories. It is much easier to say this when you have never had to sit across the table from the migrant who most desperately seeks no more than a fourth of what you have. I do believe there is a lot we can do to help migrants stay home and live dignified lives. If you are interested, I invite you to read two of my most recent reflections on serious and complex solutions that we must take up if we are to reduce forced migration from Central America. You can find these here and here. What we cannot do is pretend that harsh immigration policies that shut down borders, detain migrants, or that make asylum standards nearly unreachable will suffice to quell the desperate hope that fuels forced migration.

One of the migrants with me during these past few days was a ten-year-old boy. He was beautiful and surprisingly happy and well-adjusted. Unlike his mom, his eyes sparkled as he mischievously hovered over me to marvel at how fast I typed and to ask me questions about living in the U.S. and being a lawyer. I told him I, too, had come to the U.S. at the age of ten. I wished so much, then, that his life could be closer to mine at his age. You see, I came with my entire family in a plane, through a church sponsored visa in 1982. I would learn later that we, too, had received death threats. But my parents, as ministers of a U.S.-based church, had access to church-sponsored visas. I, too, was a precocious, intelligent child, like that beautiful Honduran boy. I remember looking up at the “EXIT” sign as we exited U.S. immigration at the Miami airport. “Look dad,” I exclaimed proudly, “this is a great country, they are wishing us success.” You see, exito means success in Spanish. This is my desperate hope: that rather than exit we can hope for exito for these migrants' lives stuck at the border.   

July 11, 2018

The travel ban in numbers: Why families and refugees lose big

By Raquel Aldana

[Cross-posted from The Conversation]

On June 16, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the 9th Circuit’s nationwide injunction against the third version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban. This ruling marks Trump’s first court victory since he issued the original travel ban back in January 2017.

Thousands now face indefinite separation from family members from the affected countries. Thousands more will be denied safe harbor from persecution.

Trump asserts the travel ban is necessary to protect national security. This claim is contested by many, including 26 retired generals and admirals, who filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the travel ban.

As a researcher who studies the effect of U.S. immigration laws and policies on human rights, I consider it important to explain the significant numeric scale of the ban’s impact on refugees and U.S. families.

Refugees and family members are not the only categories of foreign nationals from the enumerated countries in the travel ban who will be denied entry. Students, tourists, business travelers and workers will also be turned back. But refugees and fa-

mily members raise the most compelling human rights and humanitarian reasons for people to care.

Travel restrictions vary by country. The least restrictive measures apply to Venezuela. Only certain government officials and their immediate family members are indefinitely suspended from travel on short-term business or tourism. The effect of these unusual restrictions are likely to be minuscule and will not impact family unification or refugee admissions. For this reason, I didn’t include Venezuela’s numbers in my analysis.

All other nations are subject to indefinite bans on travel for permanent immigration to the U.S. This ban applies to immigrants who want to unite with family in the U.S. and refugees. Each nation also faces different travel restrictions for temporary immigration. The most restrictive travel restrictions apply to North Korea and Syria. All temporary immigration from these countries is suspended indefinitely. For Libya and Yemen, only temporary travelers for business and tourism are suspended indefinitely. For Iran, all temporary immigration is suspended except students and exchange visitors. Finally, for Somalia, all temporary migration is not suspended but subjected to additional scrutiny.

The travel ban does allow case-by-case exemptions for certain people if admission is found to be in the national interest. This includes lawful permanent residents, asylum-seekers, refugees and students, among others. In his dissent, however, Justice Stephen Breyer attempted to document how many waivers to the travel ban had been granted, concluding that the government applied the waiver in such a tiny percentage of eligible visas as to render it meaningless.

The measurable impact on family immigration

Family immigration to the U.S. from any single nation is determined by two factors. First, the demand for such visas from existing family members already in the U.S. who can sponsor certain family members. Second, for those visas that are numerically restricted, the availability of those visas to that nation in a given year.

In general, a nation’s patterns of family immigration tend to remain fairly steady over the years. So it’s possible to estimate, based on recent data from the seven (excluding Venezuela) travel ban nations, approximately how many immigrants seeking to unite with their families will be banned indefinitely from entry into the U..

During each of the last three years for which detailed profiles are publicly available – 2014 through 2016 – Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen sent between 8,000 and over 15,000 parents and children of U.S. citizens.

These same nations also sent between 3,000 and over 7,000 other eligible family members, such as siblings of U.S. citizens and spouses of lawful permanent residents.

Combined, in just three years, more than 35,000 family members from these nations came to unite with their families in the U.S. Among these nations, Iran and Yemen sent the most, followed by Syria and Somalia.

The travel ban also significantly affects family members’ ability to even visit each other in the U.S. Even when the ban was stalled by the courts, the overall number of nonimmigrants, or temporary migrants, from these nations significantly decreased.

Iran, for example, has sent by far the largest share of nonimmigrants of any of the travel ban countries in the last decade. In 2016, nearly 30,000 nonimmigrants came to the U.S. from Iran. In 2017, fewer than 20,000 came.

What this means for refugees

According to United Nations, the travel ban affects nations in significant humanitarian crises with substantial flows of refugees.

Syrians are the most affected. This group represents a total 5.5 million refugees, the largest share by far of the world’s overall 25.4 million refugees. But Iran and Somalia each also have nearly 1 million refugees, while Yemen has nearly 300,000 and Libya nearly 100,000. Four of these nations – Iran, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – face protracted refugee crises. Only North Korea reports a low figure of 2,245, although this likely reflects North Koreans’ fear of escaping or reporting their presence when they do.

A high supply of refugees doesn’t necessarily translate to high numbers of refugees admitted into the U.S. Still, over the past decade, the U.S. has consistently offered refugee protection to Iran and Somalia. The peak for both these nations was in 2016, when the U.S. admitted more than 9,000 refugees for each nation.

Since 2015, Syrians also began to receive refugee protection in substantial numbers, with 2016 also being the highest number of 12,587 refugees admitted.

President Trump has reduced the levels of refugee flows into the U.S. to historic lows. This will affect all refugees. Venezuela, for example, which today reports 1.5 million refugees, is unlikely to find safe harbor for most of its refugees in this current climate.

Not unlike family immigration, the indefinite ban on temporary visas will affect the ability of nationals from all of these nations to travel to the U.S. to seek asylum.

The U.S Supreme Court’s ruling forecloses judicial oversight over much of President Trump’s immigration policies, at least those affecting the entry of foreign nationals. This includes those facing high stakes at the border: family separation or lack of safe harbor from persecution. For now, the nations included in the travel ban face an indefinite iron locked door, with no hope that their knocking will be answered.