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USCIS surprised by Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban

Donald Trump promised early on in his campaign to ban Muslims from entering the United States.  A week into President Trump’s term he signed an executive order that banned travel from many Muslim-majority countries.  Airport immigration checkpoints became complete chaos, people being turned away, held in detention centers, or not allowed to board flights home.

Recently released emails show that US Citizenship and Immigration Service, the agency tasked with processing immigration cases, was unaware that there was going to be a policy change, thus the USCIS staff was unprepared to handle the wide-ranging order.  Trump signed the ban on January 27, 2017.

Hours before, Andrew J. Davidson, a senior member of the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate at USCIS wrote to colleagues that he needed “immediate clarification” in the section of the order that barred people from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen from entering the US.  Donald W. Neufeld, who oversees the facilities that process USCIS application forms, needed “clarity” on which forms would be suspended.

An email on Saturday, January 28, the following morning after the ban was signed, from Daniel Renaud, the associate director of USCIS field operations told dozens of USCIS employees that “until additional guidance is received, you may not take final action on any petition or application where the applicant is a citizen or national” of the seven countries listed above.  Immigrants in the US who had waited years to become citizens were told that their oath ceremony was cancelled.

Later that same night, the temporary head of USCIS’s policy and strategy office, wrote on email asking if there was a nationwide stay of the refugee Executive Order because he saw a post on Twitter.

Sunday afternoon, Renaud explained to Field Offices that they can rule on N-400 and N-600 applications,applications for citizenship, and give oath ceremonies to approved candidates.

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