In regards to current legal immigrants who obtained a green card through employment. As the status of green card holders is determined by the State Department and enforced by federal employees, does the executive have a mechanism to void/rescind/revoke "green cards" to persons who have done nothing in violation of their status.

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    Welcome to Stack Exchange, as you will discover this forum is intended for factual discussion, rather than opinion and speculation. As to what I hope is at the root of your question, should green card holders (among others) be fearful that the president, would be successful in rescinding green cards thereby making an additional segment of the population subject to deportation -- that is a good question that ought be presented at the Stack-exchange LAW.
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 2:58
  • While I agree with you sentiment (about the speculation/opinion function of this site), I do think that it is NOT a 14th amendment question as to the ability of the president to end or curtail the traditional naturalization process -- consequently my suggestion to move a rewrite of this question to s.e. Law
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 3:05
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    As far as I could find, he has never spoken against legal immigrants. Quite the opposite actually. As far as facts are concerned your answer is likely "no". He could start placing barriers to make legal immigration harder, but this enters the field of speculation.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 3:25
  • Wooooow!! So you guys do not allow speculative questions hnnn. I should have known. I wish there is a place which could fit in this question along with the details I wanted to ask about it. Never mind. Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 11:11
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    The answer to the question as it currently stands is no. I do not have time to work up a properly sourced answer, however. To deprive a lawful permanent resident of that status it is necessary to find that the person is deportable, which would not be the case if the person had done nothing wrong.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 13:01

2 Answers 2


A president can do nearly anything in the immediate term, and it would be up to the courts to stop it after the fact, something like revoking green cards would likely be stopped by the courts almost immediately. Proposing that the President would ever make such an order of revoking green cards en masse is entirely fear mongering though. A more likely, but still incredibly implausible possibility would be changing the apply and renewal processes substantially to prevent any newly issued green cards, this would also need to survive scrutiny from the court.

There are really only two ways that a green card can get revoked. The first is if the holder committed a crime worthy of deportation, and the second is fraud in the application process. The most likely mechanism, that would survive judicial review, a president could use to revoke green cards would be expanding these definitions. This would have a limited effectiveness as it still relies on green card holders committing crimes, or increased man hours to investigate potential fraud. The denying of entry for green card holders was met with heavy condemnation from the public at large, and a reasonably quick clarification from the White House that green card holders should not be denied entry based on the ban, this is good evidence that the President is OK with legal immigrants or that it would be political suicide to act on anti legal immigrant feelings.

  • What would an executive order purporting to revoke green cards look like? What law would it cite as its authority? What would it direct federal agencies to do? Furthermore, it is well established law that an expiring green card does not deprive a lawful permanent resident of that status, so refusing to replace an expired green card would not have any legal effect, only a practical one. Regarding the two ways a green card can be revoked, they're not entirely distinct, since a fraudulent application is also a deportable crime.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 14:02
  • I hope that I didn't leave the impression that the president has or will propose any such thing - I agree that would be fear mongering - some thing that the President considers repugnate /s/. The question, originally asked by a new user, seemed to reflect his personal fears as to his status that there could be a mechanism by which the President could undermine his resident alien's status. (assuming that he is in full compliance with his obligations under that status) . Your first sentence addresses that.
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 14:56
  • Since you bring up the renewal process, it occurs to me that would be an effective way of ejecting otherwise compliant aliens. My last personal brush with the renewal process required that the applicant leave the country and make a personal appearance at a US embassy or consulate abroad. At that time, the examiners make a determination whether to renew or not. If the examiner chooses not to renew, the applicant is now in a foreign country with no rights to enter the US. Effectively stranded - and their right to appeal for under due process is clearly questionable.
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 15:06
  • @phoog - In it's simplest term an executive order is simply "a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law." "Article Two of the United States Constitution gives the president broad authority to determine how to enforce the law or to otherwise manage the staff of the executive branch". As to what an order might look like - A simple order directing the State Department to stop renewing green cards is the broadest. Of course it would be subject to judicial review, but until a court of jurisdiction rules -the order stands.
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 15:22
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    @BobE "My last personal brush with the renewal process required that the applicant leave the country and make a personal appearance at a US embassy or consulate abroad": that applies to nonimmigrant visas, not green cards. "simple order directing the State Department to stop renewing green cards": Green cards are not issued by State but by Homeland Security. The card is evidence of LPR status, but does not confer the status. The status is statutory and does not expire. Refusing to issue a green card to someone does not deprive the person of LPR status.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 15:52

The President can bar green card holders from entering the USA, even without formally voiding/resciding/revokig the green card.

See Trump's Muslim Ban.

There was some early confusion about the status of green-card holders (i.e., lawful permanent residents). According to the lawsuit filed by the states of Washington and Minnesota, dated February 3, the government had changed its position five times to date. Initially, on the evening of Friday January 27, the Department of Homeland Security sent out a guidance to airlines stated "lawful permanent residents are not included and may continue to travel to the USA". CNN reported that it was overruled by the White House overnight. Early Saturday, January 28, the Department of Homeland Security's Acting Press Secretary Gillian Christensen said in an e-mail to Reuters that the order barred green-card holders from the affected countries. By Saturday afternoon White House officials said they would need a case-by-case waiver to return. On Sunday White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that green-card holders would not be prevented from returning to the United States.

According to the Associated Press no green-card holders were ultimately denied entry to the U.S. although several initially spent "long hours" in detention.

Note that this does not apply to actively deporting people already in the USA, for that I have no insight.

  • The eventual decision was that green card holders would not be included in the ban, and that was likely done because the courts would probably not have upheld their inclusion. So it is unlikely to be true that a president can lawfully exclude a green card holder from the US unless the green card holder is statutorily inadmissible or deportable. The last paragraph of your quote notes this, so it's unclear how you reach the conclusion stated in your first sentence.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 18:23

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