This article by David French has this nugget:

However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn't apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.

Is it true that green-card holders are exempt?

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    That's a stupid article. The initial order absolutely applies to green-card holders. French is trying to divert the blame away from the Trump administration to the airport officials. The Trump administration is 100% to blame. The airport officials were just doing their job. Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 19:32
  • 5
    There is an enormous amount of smoke that has been thrown up on this point. Apparently the original written order was vague on this topic, then Steve Bannon went to INS or whoever and told them directly that green cards were included in the ban. They've tried to walk this back a bit, publicity-wise, but apparently green card holders are still being turned away, presumably on administration orders, even though the courts have ordered otherwise.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 2:35
  • The only correct answer is "nobody knows". The administration seems to be flip-flopping on that point. Technically, @phoog's answer below is probably correct, but that doesn't really affect what the order says, it may only affect if the order may be illegal. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 8:00
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    Part of the confusion is that there may be a difference between "the order, as originally intended by the administration", "the order, as currently intended by the administration", "the order, as implemented in whatever airport you happen to arrive at by the official you happen to get", and "the order, as is sustainable in US law". Until it's out of the courts nobody knows what the order actually is so far as the law is concerned. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 12:35

3 Answers 3



The ban does not apply to green card holders, however it makes entry to the US for non-citizens more difficult due to additional background checks.


Text of the Executive Action:

I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order [ ... ].

(emphasis mine)

Basically, the confusion is caused by whether the re-entry of US lawful permanent residents (or green card holders) are considered to be "immigrant entry".

Read up about this in @phoog's question on Law SE.

Initially, senior administration officials stated that green card holders will be included in the ban.

An article published by CNN states:

Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security initially interpreted Trump's order to not apply to green card holders from the seven banned countries. Trump White House overruled that reading, however, meaning those green card holders were initially barred.

But a federal judge in New York temporarily blocked part of Trump's order late on Saturday night, ruling that citizens of the seven countries who hold valid visas and have already arrived in the United States cannot be removed from the United States.

(emphasis mine)

Senior administration officials stated to CBS News Saturday:

Senior administration officials told CBS News Saturday that for permanent American residents -- those holding green cards -- from the listed countries, their readmittance to the U.S. will be done on a “case by case exemption process.”

There were reports that some green card holders were barred from reentering the US:

Up to 12 people were being held at New York's JFK Airport, two of them Iraqis who had worked for the US in Iraq and had been targeted for doing so.

[ ... ]

Green card holders were also being stopped and questioned for several hours. Officials also denied travellers with dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship from boarding planes in Canada that were headed the United States, she said.

After that, officials clarified that green card holders are allowed to enter the US:

The US government will not automatically allow green card holders who traveled to countries placed under a temporary travel ban back into the United States, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

Instead, after landing those travelers will have to apply for a waiver to the executive order that instituted the ban, the sources said. When they land, they will be taken into a secondary screening process in which they will be interviewed and their biometric and biographic information will be checked to see if there are any red flags. Then their eligibility to enter the country will be determined.

So, in conclusion, while US Permanent Residents are not banned from entering the US, the order makes the entry more difficult.

Basically, this CNN article sums up what we currently know and how the order is being carried out.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina released a joint statement Sunday saying: "Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

"It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security," they added.

  • 1
    Do you have the "plain language' in the order though?
    – user11168
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 14:05
  • 2
    @Joël It depends on how it's executed, different administrations may have different definitions of an order. Since there's only one executive order and it isn't edited, why would there be a confusion and a court ruling?
    – Panda
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 14:39
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    This answer is self-contradictory. If the ban doesn't apply to green card holders, why do green card holders need to apply for a waiver? You don't need a waiver for things which don't apply to you. Instead the answer should say "Yes, but a waiver process exists that may allow green card holders in" Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 17:56
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    officials clarified No they did not, US Permanent Residents were explicitly included in the ban by President Trump. This was changed following the judicial actions. "Clarified" suggests that there was confusion where there was not any.
    – Era
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 18:37
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    I have downvoted because this answer incorrectly states that the confusion is caused by the definition of "alien." There is no confusion; green card holders (LPRs) are unambiguously aliens. Rather, an argument can be made that LPRs might be excluded from the original text of the order based on the definition of "immigrant entry." This is far from clear, however. See my question at law.stackexchange.com/q/16726/333
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 20:22

The claim is

The plain language of the order doesn't apply to legal permanent residents

That claim is incorrect; on its face, the order does pertain to green card holders ("lawful permenent residents," or LPRs).

In particular, in contrast to the currently accepted answer, there is no disagreement about whether LPRs are aliens. They are. At 8 USC 1101(a)(3), alien is defined thus:

The term “alien” means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.

There is one line of reasoning by which LPRs might be excluded from the order, but it is somewhat doubtful, and, even if it does apply, it would not apply to all LPRs.

Title 8 of the United States Code, at 8 USC 1101(a)(13)(C), qualifies the definition of "admission," such that LPRs returning after a period of less than 180 days are generally not to be considered as seeking admission when they return to the US:

(C) An alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States shall not be regarded as seeking an admission into the United States for purposes of the immigration laws unless the alien—
(i) has abandoned or relinquished that status,
(ii) has been absent from the United States for a continuous period in excess of 180 days,
(iii) has engaged in illegal activity after having departed the United States,
(iv) has departed from the United States while under legal process seeking removal of the alien from the United States, including removal proceedings under this chapter and extradition proceedings,
(v) has committed an offense identified in section 1182(a)(2) of this title, unless since such offense the alien has been granted relief under section 1182(h) or 1229b(a) of this title, or
(vi) is attempting to enter at a time or place other than as designated by immigration officers or has not been admitted to the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.

This means that most LPRs get a less stringent inspection when they cross the US border. However, the statute under which the president has the right to restrict entry, 8 USC 1182(f) speaks of "entry" rather than "admission," so the definition of "admission" may be irrelevant. Even if it is not, the exceptional treatment of returning LPRs is not universal, so in that case returning LPRs who meet the criteria in 1101(a)(13)(C) would definitely be subject to the ban.

  • Isn't a national a permanent resident?
    – user9790
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:50
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    @KDog no. All US citizens are also US nationals, but there are some US non-citizen nationals. At the moment, the only such people are those born in American Samoa and Swains Island (who have no other claim to US citizenship, for example, by being born to a US citizen parent). See travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal-considerations/….
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:56

Green card holders are absolutely included in the initial order. As already described, green card holders are not citizens and they do fall under the category of aliens.

DHS has now stated that allowing green-card holders into the US is within the national interest of the country... so that technically the "waiver" applies to them now. So that's how they are allowing green-card holders in.

I don't blame the airport officials one bit. They did their jobs. The executive order absolutely included green-card holders, so they were just doing as they were told.

The order itself states that immigration of anyone who's a citizen of one of those 7 countries is suspended for 90 days, and that they could apply for a waiver to prove that their entry is in the national interest. This was vaguely written. It is unclear what kind of waiver or what kind of waiting period on the waiver. It is unclear what kind of proof would be required to prove your entry is in the national interest. Now we know that people are just being detained for hours rather than days.

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    But as of Monday afternoon, many green card holders were still being blocked from entry.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 2:39
  • @HotLicks, I didn't know that. Well, that does fit with the my reading of the original order. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 3:22

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