News and Information

Questions and resources - Immigration Executive Orders and Enforcement Strategies by the Federal Government

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Update Feb. 22: 

Executive orders on immigration and the federal government’s enforcement strategies continue to dominate the news, creating anxiety among individuals and institutions that may be affected.  We are reviewing the memos released yesterday from the Department of Homeland Security outlining the government’s border security and deportation strategies and assessing their potential impact on students and other members of the University community.  We also anticipate that a revised executive order will be issued very soon to replace the order of January 27, 2017, that restricted entry into the country by refugees and persons from certain countries, but has been on hold due to court action (discussed below under travel ban status).  This is a rapidly changing area.  We will provide updates as new information becomes available and we can evaluate carefully what the new developments mean and how the affect our campuses.

UPDATE Feb. 10: What is the status of the travel ban?

On February 9, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District upheld an earlier judge’s decision to temporarily block enforcement of the executive order on immigration. Basically, this means that key portions of the executive order cannot be enforced at this time. To be clear, this is not the final decision on the executive order and further legal action is predicted; however, for now the following is allowed:

  • Individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen CAN enter the United States with valid visas
  • Refugees (including those from Syria) CAN come to the U.S.
  • Applications for visas to enter the U.S. will continue to be processed (Note that recent changes now require in-person interviews.)

This  announcement provides some measure of relief to the upheaval that the executive order has brought to so many in our community. However, due to the evolving nature of this situation, we do still recommend caution when considering travel outside the U.S. for those who may be affected by the executive order. See "Should I be concerned if I’m traveling abroad?" below for resources.

Background: Lawsuits and challenges in the courts have impacted the status of the travel ban, with more changes likely to come. At this time, the travel ban has not been overturned, but rather has been suspended until further challenges in the courts have been decided. Two states (Washington and Minnesota) sued the U.S. government, claiming the Executive Order on immigration signed on January 27, 2017, was unconstitutional. In response, a federal judge concluded that Trump’s ban may be unlawful and that, until its lawfulness could be determined, it would be better to retain the status quo as it existed before the order. The U.S. government then appealed that decision. On February 7, the 9th Circuit Federal Court heard arguments over whether to restore Trump’s immigration and refugee executive order, and issued its decision on February 9 to keep the restraining order in place. The appeals court decision on this question could be further appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. While all of that is going on, federal judges are preparing to hear and decide the main question, which is whether Trump’s executive order exceeded his authority as president.  

The executive orders on immigration signed by President Trump on January 25 and 27 have caused a great deal of anger, confusion, and fear among our campus community. We stand by our students, faculty, and staff who have been impacted by this order and are working hard to assure and support them in this difficult time. Many people and departments are coming together to provide resources and answer questions for those directly impacted by this executive order, and also to those who are feeling anxious and distressed. If you are worried or fearful, please reach out. We are here to help.

Below is the beginning of a questions and resource list. We will continually update it as more information becomes available. Note that other executive orders have also had impacts on the campus community, with more likely to come. This document focuses primarily on the executive orders on immigration, but we are including resources where we are able for other concerns, such as those related to refugee status and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

There is a great deal yet unknown about how the Trump administration will modify immigration regulations going forward. Your patience, support, and assistance in these times are greatly appreciated. Please reach out to the resources listed on this page if you have specific questions or concerns. If you have additional suggestions for resources, send them to

Who is affected by the immigration Executive Orders?

These orders have both direct and indirect impacts. The order issued on January 27, 2017, which restricts entry into the USA, directly affects anyone from the identified counties (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen) as well as any student who was anticipating reunification with family members who had been approved to enter as refugees.

The orders require the development of new, more restrictive criteria for immigration benefits such as refugee and asylum status, re-entry into the U.S., and adjustment from nonimmigrant to immigrant status.

Many provisions of these orders indirectly affect all who are not U.S. citizens by implementing programs that are inimical to foreign nationals. The entire tenor of these orders promotes an image of foreign nationals as potential terrorists and undesirable residents of this country unless they can establish that they are likely to become “a positively contributing member of society” and are able “to make contributions to the national interest.”

One example of how unwelcoming these orders are is a provision found in the “Border Security” order issued on 01-25-2017.This provision requires state and local law enforcement to “perform the functions of immigration officers,” including “investigation, apprehension or detention of aliens.” An “entity” risks the loss of federal funding if they fail to participate in this scheme. This mandate has a chilling effect on foreign nationals who are victims of crime or witnesses to crimes. Even if they have done nothing wrong, many prefer to suffer in silence rather than have an encounter where they are the focus of questioning rather than the perpetrator of a crime.

Anyone who is affected can reach out with questions and concerns to International Student and Scholar Services or the University Student Legal Service. Both are reviewing the order and the ongoing developments to assess possible impacts and be able to provide you with the best advice.

How many students, faculty, and staff from the affected countries are at the University of Minnesota?

The University of Minnesota community includes approximately 120 international students and scholars from the affected countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen), plus hundreds more faculty, staff, and students who have connections to those countries.

What resources are available for students, faculty, and staff who are affected by the Executive Order?

Who should I contact if I came to the U.S as a refugee or immigrant and am not from the affected countries or am undocumented and have concerns?

University resources include the University Student Legal Service and the Center for New Americans.

Resources outside of the University include the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Advocates for Human Rights, CAIR-MN and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Who should I contact if I hear of a student, faculty, or staff member who is having issues related to the Executive Order?

First, make sure that the student, faculty, or staff member is aware of the University resources available to help (see resources in this document).

The Global Programs and Strategy Alliance is serving as the central hub for tracking these issues. If you are not sure whom to contact, please reach out to or 612-624-5580.

What can I do to help someone who is affected by the executive order?

  • Advise them to seek out the appropriate University resources listed in this document. Remember that you cannot dispense legal advice, including advice related to visas and travel.

  • On a personal level, be willing to ask questions. Invite people to discuss what is sometimes a difficult conversation. Be compassionate and understand that many people are feeling vulnerable and afraid.

  • Read, learn, discuss.

    • CLA’s Immigration and History Resource Center has recently launched #ImmigrationSyllabus, a website and educational resource to help the public understand the deep historical roots of today’s immigration debates. It is a great tool for teaching, learning, and advocacy.

    • Review the research and data collection projects done at the University of Minnesota about the value of international students and scholars and what they add to the University of Minnesota community. You can also learn about the achievements of international students, scholars, and alumni in the Stories and Research section of the ISSS website.

    • International Student and Scholar Services has several upcoming workshops for staff and departments interested in learning how to work effectively with international students and scholars, including the Introduction to International Student Advising and the ISSS Intercultural Workshop Series.

    • Connect with units of the Office for Equity and Diversity for support and various educational and processing opportunities.
    • If you are a U.S. citizen, use that privilege to speak to your elected officials and by participating in demonstrations and other peaceful ways that express your concern about the impact of this policy on our community.

    • The U has a new campaign, “We all belong here,” with supportive and inclusive messages. Information about that campaign and how to order posters and download social media images can be found here.

Should I be concerned if I’m traveling abroad?

We encourage travelers to continue their activities as normal, but until more is known, we caution against travel outside the U.S. for those individuals from countries specifically listed in the Executive Order. Also, because of the campaign talk of ending DACA, students with DACA status should be aware that an executive order issued while they are out of the country could make it difficult or impossible to return to the USA. Those who have concerns about their legal status should consult with the GPS Alliance International Health and Safety team (or the appropriate education abroad office, for study abroad students) before traveling outside the U.S.

The University of Minnesota urges all University travelers to register their international travel as required by University policy, so that we may continue to provide assistance and support for all international travel.

Further, the University of Minnesota recommends that all travelers register with the U.S. embassy in the country they are visiting via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the embassy’s most recent health and safety updates during your time abroad.

The University of Minnesota does not plan to restrict University travel or withdraw travelers from these countries at this time. However, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and post updates via this website.

For updates, go to the International Travel Announcements web page:

Does the Executive Order impact students who are, or will be, studying abroad?

The Executive Order does not prohibit travel outside the U.S. however, it does prohibit entry (or reentry) of citizens of Syria indefinitely and citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for at least 90 days. Since the issuance of this executive order on January 27, 2017, the administration has said that permanent residents from these countries will be allowed to enter to serve the national interest.

For students who are concerned about their own legal status, they should be in touch with their campus education abroad office in advance of travel to receive direction, assistance, and/or support.

If I’m not a U.S. citizen, can I participate in protests or sign petitions?

If you have specific questions or concerns regarding your First Amendment rights, you are encouraged to consult with a legal professional (fee-paying students can consult University Student Legal Service) before deciding to participate in a demonstration or protest march. A few disruptive participants can cause police to indiscriminately detain or arrest anyone within sight in an effort to prevent a riot.  Foreign nationals should be aware that when applying for many future immigration benefits, they will be asked to disclose any incident where they were detained or arrested, even if they were not ultimately charged with a crime. This information will be considered when deciding whether to approve or deny an application for a future benefit.

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