On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This order suspended the entry of persons from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Legal Permanent Residents from these countries should not be affected by this ban, but as the situation is still developing, there is a small risk of having problems upon entry into the United States.

Read the executive order here

PROTECT YOURSELF: New Executive Actions Signed By President Trump

Many immigrants are considerably nervous about the new Executive Orders signed by President Trump on January 25, 2017. We are still looking into all of the repercussions of these orders. As things become clearer, we will update our blog regularly to explain the implications of these orders. In the meantime, all undocumented immigrants should keep the following tips in mind: 

  1. DO NOT open your door to any immigration or police officer unless you or someone else in your home called them for assistance. This is your right under the 4th amendment of the United States Constitution. It doesn’t matter why they say they are there (for example, searching for a dangerous criminal) – it may be a lie designed to get you to open your door and allow them to enter. It doesn’t matter how much noise they make or whether they seem about to break windows. If they don’t have a judicial warrant signed by a judge, you are not required to open your door or allow them into your home. See below for links to samples of each. 
  2. If you are stopped by a police officer, DO NOT answer any questions about your immigration status, citizenship, or place of birth. This is your right under the 5th amendment to the United States Constitution. A police officer has no legitimate reason to ask for this information, and you should be suspicious if a police officer asks for it. If the officer insists, tell him/her that your attorney advised you not to answer any questions about those things, and if the officer needs to know more he or she can speak with your attorney. 
  3. If you have been in the United States for more than two years, gather evidence that shows that you have been in the United States for at least that long (for example, birth certificates of your children, correspondence you have received in the mail, tax returns, school records, car insurance, copies of bills, medical or prescription records etc.). Carry a copy of these documents with you at all times and make an additional copy for a trusted friend or relative with legal status (see blog post below, titled, “New Disastrous Immigration Policy May Be Implemented by the Trump Administration”).
  4. If you are detained by an immigration officer, present your evidence of being in the US for at least the past two years, if any, and assert your right to have your case decided on by an immigration judge. DO NOT agree to be removed from the United States.
  5. If you are detained by an immigration officer and you are AT ALL fearful of returning to your home country, say it frequently and vigorously to any immigration officer you speak to while in detention and INSIST that you want to apply for asylum.          
  • Our asylum laws only offer protection from persecution based on race, religion, national origin, political opinion or particular social group. Don’t assume that your fear is not based on one of these categories! 
  • Political opinions don’t need to be connected to any particular political party. For example, if you participated in protests against government corruption or incompetence, or against a particular government policy, you publicly expressed a political opinion. 
  • Personal opinions can often also qualify as political opinions. For example, if you and/or your family has openly opposed gangs in your neighborhood, that opposition to the gangs would also be a political opinion. 
  • A particular social group doesn’t have to be a formal group like a labor union or a club. It just has to be a group of people who are united by some characteristic that they cannot change or should not be asked to change because it is fundamental to who they are, and whom society views as a group. For example, homosexuals are a particular social group. Women who are unable to escape their abusive husbands can also be a particular social group. A nuclear family can also be a particular social group. If someone wants to kill you just because you are in the same family as someone they hate, your family is the social group. 

If you currently have a contract with one of our attorneys, and the attorney deems it necessary to make adjustments to your case based on these developments, we will contact you directly. 

If you do not have an immigration attorney, please contact an attorney to discuss your options. 

Keep checking our blog for updates on Executive Actions signed by President Trump pertaining to immigration matters. 

This is what a judicial warrant looks like.  

This is an Administrative warrant. It is NOT a judicial warrant.

New Disastrous Immigration Policy May Be Implemented by the Trump Administration

President-elect Trump is seeking advice on immigration policy and issues from Kris Kobach, an extreme right-wing, anti-immigration proponent.  Kris Kobach was the author of the infamous Arizona “show me your papers” law, major portions of which were later struck down by the US Supreme Court.  He also reportedly authored the even worse SB-6 bill that was rejected by the Kentucky legislature three years ago. 

During a recent CNN interview, Mr. Kobach discussed the current policy of “expedited removal.” This is a process by which people can be deported quickly and with no opportunity to see a judge or apply for relief. 

Under current DHS policy, expedited removal is limited to individuals who: 1) entered the us without inspection  (aka "EWI"s), 2) are encountered by DHS within 100 miles of the border, and 3) who entered within 14 days of apprehension. DHS policy includes the 14 day limitation, but that is not found in the statute - it's just a policy and can change at any time. The statute says it applies to anyone fitting the first two points above and who cannot demonstrate that they have resided in the US continuously for the past two years.  These individuals are only allowed an opportunity to defend themselves before a CBP officer, they are not given the opportunity to see an immigration judge, and they are not eligible to apply for any relief from deportation.  They are also very quickly deported from the US, usually on a bus to Mexico, or by plane to the individual’s home country. 

Kobach suggested expanding the current “expedited removal” process to include those encountered anywhere in the United States who cannot produce documents proving to the satisfaction of a CBP officer that they have resided in the US continuously for the past two years. This means if an undocumented individual comes into contact with an immigration enforcement officer (CBP or ICE) anywhere in the US and cannot provide documentation of their physical presence in the US for the past two years, they could face expedited removal.  As noted above this means the person would be detained with no possibility of release on bond, not allowed to have a hearing before an immigration judge, and ineligible to apply for any relief from deportation.  This eliminates the possibility of applying for Cancellation of Removal, which many undocumented individuals are eligible to apply for and which, if granted, equals permanent residence.

We do not know if this disastrous and extreme policy change will happen.  But this policy was openly discussed by Kris Kobach during the above mentioned CNN interview, so we must take it seriously.  After President-elect Trump is sworn in, we advise all individuals to always have in their possession proof of two years physical presence in the US, in case they are stopped by an immigration officer.  We also strongly encourage everyone to keep a second copy of the documentation at home for easy access by a family member or a friend (someone with legal immigration status) to present to an immigration officer, if necessary. 

However, if you are arrested without your documentation, you should demand to speak to your immigration attorney and to have him or her present with you at your expedited removal hearing before an immigration officer. 

Important Issue for DACA grantees: International Travel on Advance Parole

If you have been granted DACA, you may have thought about traveling outside the US to visit a sick relative or to study abroad.  To leave the US and return, you must be approved for Advance Parole, which is permission to return to the US. 

There is a very significant benefit to traveling abroad and reentering the US on Advance Parole.  Once a person enters on Advance Parole, creating a lawful entry, the person could apply for permanent residency in the U.S. The applicant MUST also have an Immediate Relative (US citizen spouse, parent, or child over 21) to file a petition.  Having a lawful entry into the U.S. would eliminate the need to travel home and obtain an immigrant visa. 

However, you must carefully consider whether the Advance Parole document would be impacted by any decision taken by President Trump to end the DACA program.   

Before travelling on Advance Parole, it is very important to discuss the matter with an immigration attorney.


The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued an alert warning immigrants of scam phone calls being made to USCIS customers. Customers report receiving phone calls from someone who claims to be calling from USCIS or ICE (Immigration & Customs  Enforcement). The caller ID on these calls match an actual USCIS or ICE number, which makes the call seem legitimate. However, the person making these calls usually threatens deportation or other serious consequences unless a payment is made either by making a money transfer, sending a money order or other form of payment.

If you receive one of these calls, DO NOT give any payment or personal information over the phone. Hang up and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission (click here to be redirected to their site). If you have additional concerns, you can call the USCIS Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or contact an attorney.

See the USCIS warning here

UPDATES ON DAPA: What's the status?

First, a general timeline:

Nov. 20, 2014 - President Obama announces executive actions establishing DAPA and expanded-DACA

Dec. 03, 2014 - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sues the Department of Justice (DOJ) in an attempt to stop DAPA (case name: Texas vs. United States)

Feb. 16, 2015 - Judge Hanen issues injunction against DAPA (halting DAPA applications while Texas vs. United States continues)

Feb. 23, 2015 - DOJ appeals the injunction decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and asks for an emergency stay of the injunction (Texas vs. United States continues with Judge Hanen)

May 26, 2015 - 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denies emergency stay, upholding the injunction

Jul. 13, 2015 - Arguments presented before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Nov. 09, 2015 - 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issues a decision in favor of the State of Texas; injunction stands

Nov. 20, 2015 - DOJ appeals the decision of the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court

Dec. 01, 2015Supreme Court denies Texas’s request for 30 – day extension to respond to appeal (Good news for DAPA!)

So, where is DAPA now? 

For now, the principal case of Texas vs. United States is still in Judge Hanen's court in Texas. The Supreme Court has been asked to review only the injunction stopping DAPA, not the DAPA case itself.

Based on the Supreme Court’s decision of December 1, 2015 the estimated future timeline is as follows:

Dec. 29, 2015 – Deadline for Texas to respond to DOJ’s appeal

Jan. 15, 2016 – Supreme Court conference will consider the appeal; at this point, they will decide whether to accept the case or not. 

If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, then:

Feb/Mar 2016 – Briefings on the case

Apr. 2016 – Oral arguments

Jun. 2016 – Supreme Court decision will likely be issued

If the Supreme Court decides NOT to hear the case, then:

We must wait for Judge Hanen to issue a decision on the Texas vs. United States case, and perhaps, have DAPA work its way up the ladder to the Supreme Court again. 

Keep checking our blog for futher updates on DAPA. 

Coverage of Syrian Refugee Controversy

Russell Immigration Law Firm would like to show appreciation to Emily Maher and WLKY for their coverage of the controversy over Syrian refugees in the United States, and more specifically, the state of Kentucky. 

Our own Ted Farrell was interviewed about some governors' decisions to refuse acceptance of Syrian refugees in their states. Watch this interview here: 


Yaman Addas, a client we represented in obtaining asylum, speaks out about his difficult decision to leave his dreams and aspirations in his home country of Syria. 

DAPA UPDATE: Immigrants go on hunger strike for DAPA

In an effort to keep the DAPA case moving, immigrants from across the United States are participating in a hunger strike outside the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court in New Orleans, demanding a decision be issued by the Court of Appeals by October 23, 2015.

Regardless of the decision by the Fifth Circuit, it is highly likely that the losing party will appeal to the Supreme Court. Protesters claim that October 23, 2015 is an important date because if a decision is made before that date, the Supreme Court can hear arguments and issue judgement in 2016. If the decision by the Fifth Circuit is not made before that date, the Supreme Court will likely issue a decision on this case until at least 2017.

If the immigrants’ fasting efforts are successful, DAPA may be resolved by next year. Please keep checking our website for updates.

For more information, see the following news reports:

Exasperated immigrants are preparing to fast for reforms

Why Immigrants Are Fasting In Front of Courthouse in Louisiana

Guatemala Consulate Visit

The Guatemalan Consulate will be providing mobile services on Saturday, November 14 and Sunday November 15, 2015 at:

Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church
601 Hill N Dale Rd.
Lexington, KY 40503

To apply for a new passport, you will need to present the original and photocopy of the Cedula de Vecindad or Documento Personal de Identificación (DPI) or original and photocopy of your birth certificate and $65.00.

For more information, please check the consulate's website here.


The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued an alert warning immigrants of scam phone calls being made to USCIS customers. Customers report receiving phone calls from someone who claims to be calling from USCIS or ICE (Immigration & Customs  Enforcement). The caller ID on these calls match an actual USCIS or ICE number, which makes the call seem legitimate. However, the person making these calls usually threatens deportation or other serious consequences unless a payment is made either by making a money transfer, sending a money order or other form of payment.

If you receive one of these calls, DO NOT give any payment or personal information over the phone. Hang up and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission (click here to be redirected to their site). If you have additional concerns, you can call the USCIS Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or contact an attorney.

See the USCIS warning here.  

Additional information here

Oral Arguments on DAPA/Extended DACA Case

On July 10, 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments so that attorneys from both sides of the lawsuit could address certain issues (such as whether the states have standing to bring the lawsuit) in person. Oral arguments give the appellate judges the opportunity to ask the lawyers questions that were not answered in the written pleadings, challenge the logic of some of the attorneys’ arguments, and dig further into issues the judges feel were not sufficiently addressed in writing. Oral arguments give the attorneys for each side the opportunity to further explain their positions and to clarify any misunderstandings.


Audio of the arguments can be heard here.



DACA: Three-year work authorization

If you, or someone you know, obtained DACA and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs, “work permits”) valid for three years, this post is for you! 

Due to the injunction issued by Judge Hanen (see previous post dated February 18, 2015), USCIS is recalling certain three-year EADs issued to DACA grantees.  The procedure being followed by USCIS regarding this recall is as follows:

  1. USCIS will send the DACA grantee a notice stating there was an error in the authorized period and instructions as to what will need to be done (see items 2 and 3 below);
  2. USCIS will then send a replacement two-year EAD to DACA grantee;
  3. Once the replacement EAD is received, the DACA grantee MUST send the three-year EAD, along with any three-year approval notices and a copy of the notice (item 1) to USCIS at the following address:

P.O. Box 87730
Lincoln, NE 68501-7730

Item 1 on the list above is especially important because it means that the database that records your eligibility for a driver’s license will also be updated. Therefore, even if you have already received a driver’s license for three years, your license will NOT be valid for three years. It will only be valid until the expiration date listed on your two-year EAD. 

Please note that not everyone who obtained a three-year EAD will need to return it. You DO NOT need to return your EAD if it was issued before February 16, 2015, even if it was issued for three years.

You must return your EAD if all of the following are true:

•    You obtained a three-year EAD after the injunction issued on February 16, 2015;
•    You have received a letter from USCIS instructing you to return your three-year EAD; and
•    You have obtained a replacement two-year EAD from USCIS.


If all of the above are true in your case, you MUST return your three-year EAD.

Please DO NOT return your three-year EAD unless you have already received a replacement two-year EAD. 

USICS has issued a fact sheet with detailed information. Read it here

More information can be found here:
Immigration Advocates Clear Questions 

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has also issued a statement explaining these instructions (AILA Doc No. 15070802).

UPDATE: DAPA Injuction Remains in Place

  • The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard arguments in the case of State of Texas v. United States of America pertaining to the implementation of the Executive Actions issued by President Obama on November 20, 2014 (including DAPA).
  • The Court decided this week that President Obama’s program will remain on hold for now. The government will not accept applications while the case continues.
  • Arguments are scheduled for July at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and we expect a decision a few months later.
  • We, alongside many scholars and advocates, expect that the President’s program will move forward. This decision is a momentary setback and by no means is a final decision.
  • If the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules against the program, the Obama Administration will almost certainly appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • We remain confident that the President’s program will be allowed to move forward and that so many of our clients, such as yourself, will be offered the relief which is so needed.
  • If you know US citizens who are eligible to vote, you should recommend that they contact their Congress person and voice their concerns about immigration policy.

CNN Report -- A delay – not defeat – for Obama’s immigration action

National Immigrant Justice Center -- Fifth Circuit Immigration Ruling Delays  Justice, Keeps Americans and Immigrant Families in Limbo

See the court's decision here.



Tax Information

  • You MUST file taxes.
  • You should use your Social Security Number to file taxes (NOT your ITIN).
  • If you previously filed with an ITIN, consult with a tax professional about the following:
    • Amending up to three prior years of taxes, if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit; and
    • Notifying the IRS that you will no longer use your ITIN. 

Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")

  • You are NOT eligible for subsidies under Obamacare and CANNOT apply for health insurance through a healthcare exchange website (such as healthcare.gov or kynect.ky.gov). However, you CAN apply for health insurance through your employer or directly from an insurance company.
  • Please consult with a healthcare exchange representative to help you apply for family members in your household that may be eligible for subsidies under Obamacare (if they have legal status). 
  • You are NOT required to have health insurance.
  • If you did not have health insurance in 2014, you do NOT need to pay the penalty. 
  • To avoid the penalty, you must submit IRS Form 8965 (exemption code C).
  • If you have already paid the penalty, please consult a tax professional, as you will probably have to file an amended return to claim your exemption. 

Additional information may be found at United We Dream

UPDATE: New Developments on President Obama’s Executive Action

On February 16, 2015, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an injunction, temporarily stopping, President Obama’s executive action announced on November 20, 2014.

In situations like this, it is common to have many questions. Please consider the following:

  • This decision is NOT permanent;

  • The Federal Government has announced that it will appeal the order;

  • At this time, the only applications that are immediately affected are those requesting expanded DACA under the new guidelines. Those who qualify for DACA based on the guidelines announced on June 15, 2012 are NOT affected;

  • DACA applications under the new guidelines will not be accepted by USCIS until such time as Judge’s Hanen’s order is lifted;

  • Numerous immigration attorneys, organizations and even the federal government are confident that DAPA and expanded DACA (under new guidelines) will proceed (see White House statement here);

  • If you have already signed a contract with us for these applications, we will continue working on your cases so as to be prepared to file as soon as that is possible;

  • Our office will continue to meet and work with prospective DACA and DAPA clients – do not hesitate to call and make an appointment!

See news reports:

New York Times Article -- Dealt Setback, Obama Puts off Immigrant Plan

Think Progess Article -- Federal Judge Blocks Obama's Immigration Action at the 11th Hour. Here's Why It Probably Won't Work

United We Dream Article -- A Judge Just Ruled to Halt Immigration Executive Action. Here are 5 Things You Should Know

You can see Judge Hanen's Decision here





Experienced Immigration Attorneys will explain 3 major changes announced by President Obama at a number of public meetings in January.  Please get the word out to your communities!  We are also circulating a flier in English and Spanish giving more details.  Here are the dates and times of the meetings:

Sun. Jan. 11:  Americana Center, 4 – 6 p.m. 
4801 Southside Drive, Louisville, KY 40214
(502) 366-7813 
Sat. Jan 17:  St. Bartholomew, 7 - 8.30 p.m. 
2042 Buechel Bank Road, Louisville, KY 40218
(502) 499-0883
Sun. Jan 18:   St. Edwards, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
9608 Sue Helen Drive, Jeffersontown, KY 40299
(502) 267-6633   
Thurs. Jan. 22:  La Casita, 6.30 - 8 p.m.
223 E. Magnolia Street Louisville, KY 40208 
Wed. Jan 28:  St. Rita, 6:30 - 8 p.m. 
8709 Preston Highway, Louisville, KY 40219
(502) 969-4579  


These events are organized by the Americana Center, the La Casita Center, St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, St. Edward Catholic Church, St. Rita Catholic Church, and Russell Immigration Law Firm.

See the English flyer here.

Vea el volante en español aquí.

See news coverage here.

President Obama's Announcement (November 20, 2014)


On November 20, 2014, President Obama addressed the nation to announce his plans for a new immigration program available to parents of U.S. citizen (USC) or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) children. President Obama announced a program called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA),which will allow millions of undocumented immigrants to obtain work authorizations and to live without fear of deportations. Parents of USC or LPR children, who have been present in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 and who clear a criminal background check will be able to apply for this program. It is unclear at this moment if those who meet all the criteria but have previously been deported qualify. We will update this blog once this question is answered by the authorities. Applications for this program can be submitted approximately 180 days after President Obama's announcement (i.e., on May 19, 2015). We expect much more clarification between now and then as to who is eligible to apply.


As part of President Obama's executive action, the eligibility criteria for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been changed. As a quick review, the eligibility criteria for DACA, as announced on June 15, 2012 was as follows:

The applicant:

  1. Must have been 30 years old or younger as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Must have entered the U.S. before the age of 16;
  3. Must have been continuously present in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;
  4. Must have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
  5. Must have completed high school or a GED program OR be enrolled in high school or a GED program;
  6. Must not have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors.

President Obama announced that two eligibility criteria will change: first, there will be no age cap for DACA applicants; and second, each applicant must have been continuously present in the U.S. since January 1, 2010. These changes mean that many more undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children will now be able to apply for DACA.

President Obama's address to the nation can be seen here: