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The Weekly Round-Up: Asylum Claims Based on Gang and Domestic Violence Rejected at Border and Microsoft Threatens to Move Employment Abroad

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White House instructs border officers to reject all asylum claims based upon gang or domestic violence.

The Trump Administration will start instructing all officers reviewing asylum and refugee applications – including those made at the U.S./Mexico – to summarily reject any claims based upon fear of gang or domestic violence.

According to CNN, the new policy will also advise that officers weigh an application for asylum against the manner in which the person initially entered the United States, particularly if the person entered without documentation.  Under current law, a foreign national is permitted to file for asylum within one year of entering the United States, regardless of how that person arrived in the United States.

The new policy comes on the heels of a recent decision from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which restricted the categories of people eligible for asylum in the United States, including those who have been victims of domestic or gang violence.  Mr. Sessions further suggested that such claims should be rejected during an initial interview process at the border, prior to even reaching an immigration judge for review.  USCIS spokesman Michael Bars stated that “[o]ur laws do not offer protection against instances of violence based on personal, private conflict that is not on account of a protected ground,” which includes race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and political opinion.

Immigration advocates see this as part of a larger effort to restrict asylum altogether.  As reported by CNN, Ur Jaddou, of the advocacy group “America’s Voice,” stated that “[w]hen you put it all together, this is his grand scheme to just close any possibility for people seeking protection – legally – to claim that protection that they can under the law.”

The NMM Immigration Blog will continue to cover this issue as it develops.

Microsoft threatens to move work abroad in light of recent immigration rule changes.

Microsoft has announced that it is considering moving much of its work outside the United States to compensate for recent immigration policies from the White House that limit who is eligible for employment in the United States.

In its blog, Microsoft pointed to two specific policies that were of primary concern.  First, the White House is reversing an Obama policy that allowed spouses of professional employees to work in the United States.  Second, the Administration has restricted foreign students from working as they seek employment in their fields of study.  According to Microsoft, this would affect hundreds of their employees, potentially stripping them of their right to work in the United States.

Microsoft notes to its development center in Vancouver, Canada, that employees may be forced to relocate there.  Company president Brad Smith stated that “[w]e don’t want to move jobs out of the United States and we hope that we don’t see decision making in Washington that would force us to do that. . . . [But w]e’re not going to cut people loose.  We’re going to stand by them.”

If you are a foreign national seeking employment in the United States, or an employer hiring foreign talent, please contact an experienced immigration attorney regarding how new rules may affect you.

If you have questions about topics covered in today’s weekly round-up or other immigration matters, contact me at wcmenard@nmmlaw.com.