United States: Immigration Compliance In The Trump Era: What Schools Need To Know

The first couple of months of the Trump administration have been something of a whirlwind. Many Americans have been glued to their TVs, computer screens, or smartphones on a daily basis, anxiously awaiting the latest news from Washington as the new administration sets priorities and executes its game plan. 

Now that some time has passed, it's a good time to assess how the changing legal landscape brought about by the Trump White House will affect schools. For the next few minutes, you can stop hitting "refresh" on your web browser, close Facebook, and ignore that tweet from your cousin posting another story from Factcheck.org. 

Although it's always a bit dicey predicting what's coming down the road when a new administration takes over, and this year's crystal ball appears particularly foggy, one thing seems clear: enhanced immigration enforcement is a priority for this administration. And because this new, aggressive approach has the potential to be disruptive for schools, you should make sure to stay up to speed on the latest developments.

Immigration And Travel Ban Executive Order

Just one week into his presidency, and with virtually no notice to the agencies charged with implementing it, President Trump issued an executive order immediately barring entry into the United States to people from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iran, and Sudan.  The ban was to extend for at least 90 days, while the Department of Homeland Security and other officials were charged with developing steps to carry out the president's plan for "extreme vetting" of travelers from these countries. In addition, the order immediately halted all refugee processing for 120 days, and indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from participating in the U.S. refugee program.

The plain language of the order covered not only current visa holders, but also permanent U.S residents (green card holders). The immediate execution of the directive, and the limited lead time for government agencies to prepare to carry out the order, made for chaotic times at airports in the U.S. and abroad. Administration officials quickly attempted to clarify that the order would not be enforced against permanent residents, but they did not rule out enhanced questioning of green card holders attempting to re-enter the country if their birthplace was one of the seven listed countries.

The inclusion of permanent residents was one of the bases for a lawsuit filed by two states seeking to enjoin implementation of the order. Interestingly, the states argued they had standing to pursue the litigation because the ban would have an adverse impact on their public universities if faculty members covered by the ban were unable to travel to or from the U.S., thereby impacting their employment relationships. 

It was this state-driven, school-related lawsuit that resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing execution of the president's order, followed by a quick appeals court decision refusing to undo the lower court's ruling. The administration declined to file an immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and instead chose to re-work the executive order to remove some of the provisions the courts found objectionable. Several days later, another federal court blocked the second executive order, setting up yet another appeals court battle to take place in the near future.

Chances are we have not heard the last of this issue, and it is likely that several additional courts will weigh in before long – perhaps even the Supreme Court. During this period of uncertainty, where the second executive order could be cleared for implementation at any moment, schools should proactively consider the impact this could have on faculty members, administrators, and staff born in the restricted countries (now excluding Iraq, but still including Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan).

Because the second executive order could be resurrected at any time, schools should advise employees who would be affected by the ban to avoid international travel, including land-based travel to Canada or Mexico. Even cruise vacations might lead to blocked entry once the vessel is back in the United States. For those who must travel, employees should be advised to carry with them all necessary documents demonstrating their right to be present in the United States. Both green card holders and even U.S. citizens born in the restricted countries should expect heightened scrutiny upon re-entering the U.S., and budget extra time to get through customs. 

Since 9/11, officials at ports of entry have taken the position that the U.S. government can seize and demand passwords to inspect cell phones, laptops, and tablets as a condition of entry. This is not unique to the Trump administration; the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in 2011 over the Obama administration's practice of authorizing wide latitude for border officials to review electronic devices at border crossings. This led Boston Globe reporter Katie Johnston, quoting civil liberties advocates, to refer to ports of entry as "Constitution-free zones."

In addition to employees, some schools will see these travel restrictions impact students and their families. Schools may find that the best way to support members of their communities dealing with travel restrictions is to accommodate absences and, when requested, provide resources for handling the situation, possibly including referral to a family immigration attorney.

Enhanced Immigration Enforcement

In addition to the travel bans, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has, at the urging of the Trump administration, detained and initiated deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants at a much greater pace than in recent years. ICE officials recently confirmed to congressional leaders that this more aggressive detain-and-deport approach will apply not only to the "bad hombres" referred to by President Trump (serious criminal offenders), but also to undocumented persons with no criminal record.

While the law regarding deportation has not changed from the Obama administration, the enthusiasm with which these deportations are occurring seems to have increased, along with the stress level of immigrants and their families. Schools have reported that some students have expressed worry about the fate of family members and friends who they believe to be undocumented. 

Some school districts and private schools have responded to the heightened tensions by announcing that they will not permit ICE officials on school property without a criminal warrant. These schools, in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and elsewhere, have taken the position that schools should not be converted into "immigration police" and enlisted in "round-them-up" operations, which would likely increase tensions and inhibit learning.

While schools are within their rights to take such a position, administrators should understand that they must comply with a lawful warrant. And though it has not yet done so, it would not be surprising to see Trump's Department of Education take steps to threaten funding to schools who do not cooperate with ICE, much the same way it has threatened municipalities deemed to be "sanctuary cities."


Much of the haze surrounding federal immigration policy should begin to clear in the coming months. In recent days, President Trump has said that the "time is right for an immigration bill, as long as there is compromise on both sides." That kind of clarity and certainty would be a welcome relief for school officials and families impacted by the current immigration situation.

Of course, immigration reform has proved to be exceedingly difficult in an environment where any path to citizenship is decried as "amnesty." If President Trump can pull this off, he truly may be the dealmaker his supporters believe he is.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions