Advertisement

New Windsor law firm adjusting to immigration change

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that temporarily suspended immigration for refugees and visa holders from seven majority Muslim countries. It had included green card holders when the order went into effect, but that has since changed.

Immigration attorney Brian Schmitt opened his inbox Monday to find approximately 200 unread emails. He usually has 50 or 60, he said.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that temporarily suspended immigration for refugees and visa holders from seven majority Muslim countries. It had included green card holders when the order went into effect, but that has since changed.

Advertisement

For some in Carroll County, the new policy was a sign that it was time to get to work.

Schmitt is a partner at Hake and Schmitt, a New Windsor-based immigration law firm, that specializes in J-1 waivers, or waivers that help people on visas avoid having to return to their home country for two years following the end of the visa.

While Schmitt does not have any current clients who were detained at airports as a result of the somewhat sudden immigration change, the Republican president's executive order has affected his clients and Schmitt personally.

Schmitt is a major in the U.S. Judge Advocate General's Corps, and some of the people affected by the executive order are interpreters who helped the U.S. military, he said.

"These are people who saved our lives when we went over there, so this is very problematic to me," Schmitt said.

Habeas corpus lawsuits have been filed in New York on behalf of two interpreters who were detained over the weekend as they flew into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Schmitt said his opinions are his own and don't reflect the Department of Defense. He said he feels that the immigration ban is keeping people in dangerous places and will affect families.

One of the interpreters stopped in New York already had family in the country, Schmitt said.

This is not the first time interpreters who contracted with the U.S. military have been swept up in a change in immigration policy, according to an article in The Washington Post.

In 2011, former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, slowed the visa process as well as issued a stronger vetting process of established refugees from Iraq in response to two Iraqi refugees who were discovered to have ties to bomb making in Iraq, according to The Post.

Trump has compared his new policy to the 2011 slowdown, according to The Post, as have Republican Carroll County members of the General Assembly.

This type of immigration policy isn't new, said state Sen. Justin Ready, R-District 5.

"It might be something different, but it's not a radical change," Ready said.

Ready said people have gotten caught up in the "hysteria" of the executive order.

Advertisement

While it's being called a Muslim ban, he said it's not really a ban. It's also not from any country. It's seven specific ones, he said.

Ready pointed to the clarification about green cards and that allegedly only 109 people were detained as part of the new policy as signs of the hysteria.

"I think there's a lot of people caught up in who did the order instead of the facts of the order," he said.

Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, echoed Ready's comments, saying there's been a lot of misinformation being passed around about the executive order.

From her understanding, Trump's order is enforcing something that was already in place.

"Seems to me that our president is trying to safeguard the country like other presidents have tried to do," Krebs said.

Neither Krebs or Ready knew of any of their constituents being affected by the ban, they said.

And while Kate Fisher, chairwoman of the Call to Action Committee for Carroll CAN, wasn't personally affected by the immigration executive order, she was spurred to act when she saw the new policy and the reactions at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Fisher, who is a state employee, was joined by a Carroll County Public Libraries employee and a Carroll County Public Schools employee, and the three traveled to BWI with signs in hand.

Fisher and her two friends took a parking shuttle, and on the packed bus, only one passenger had luggage, she said.

"It was kind of amazing when we got there," Fisher said.

Fisher said she wasn't sure if Trump was hearing the message from most of the protests, but she said that they were also targeting state officials and federal officials in hopes they could make some change.

She saw several Democratic Maryland representatives, including former Gov. Martin O'Malley.

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., announced in a news release Monday that he plans to submit legislation that could block Trump's executive order. Maryland's Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, also said in a news release that he is considering joining other attorneys general in pursuing legal action.

For Schmitt, he is ready to engage in a federal lawsuit if he need be. His law firm is able to file federal lawsuits, and he said it's a possibility that in the upcoming weeks he might be filing some on behalf of clients or colleagues' clients.

Schmitt said the executive order is going to hurt the medical field and the country in general.

"This executive order sends the wrong message for the world," he said.

Hospitals, especially in underserved areas, are staffed with people likely to be affected by the executive order as they are on visas for residency programs or in the country to work in the medical field.

And for the country in general, he said, he worried about the irreparable damage and strain the action will have on diplomatic ties with U.S. allies.

"We're looking bad in the eyes of the world," Schmitt said.

410-857-7898

twitter.com/hmongilio

Advertisement
Advertisement