Those of you who have adopted from overseas or who plan to do so in the future will be requesting benefits under Section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This section of the law is the section that allows US citizens to classify other people as their relatives and bring them to the United States.

A few sections down, we come to section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which reads in part:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United states, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens, any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

Here’s what that means- the president can simply declare that certain foreigners may not come to the US either to live here permanently or to visit. Furthermore, the president can impose any additional restrictions he deems necessary on the entry of these aliens. Simplified to another level- the president can do whatever he wants when it comes to not allowing people in.

The presidents have done this before many times and many groups have been banned from entering the United States or have had special restrictions imposed upon then. These bans and restrictions also applied to minors. The Chinese were banned from entering the US for years, as were the Iranians for a period of time when Jimmy Carter was president. We have also continued to impose restrictions on adults and children who suffer from certain medical conditions- hence the immigration medical exam.

A few months ago, Donald Trump stated that he was “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This seems very comprehensive to me. It is also interesting that the ban of Muslims from entering is generally not discussed in the context of fixing our broken immigration system. It does not come from a point of concern that our immigration laws are not being adhered to. This is not the typical anti-immigrant sentiment that we have perhaps become numb to. This is something very different.

It will be interesting to see if he follows up on this threat and does in fact ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Maybe these were statements were simply ploys to mobilize his base and he has no intention of doing any of it. Any such changes to the rules would of course impact anyone seeking to sponsor any relative or employee who was Muslim- not just those who want to adopt.

While something so terrible was inconceivable last week, I don’t know whether or not it is now. We could see some changes to the immigration rules in the coming months that only apply to Muslims. When immigration rules change, there is often a “grandfathering” period. This means that anyone who is in process will typically not be subject to changes in the rules. For this reason, if you are concerned that the immigration rules may change, you should consider filing your I-600A now- whether or not you have an approved home study. You should also consider moving forward any plans you have to identify and get legal custody of a child available for adoption.

Keep in mind that this is general advice and the only way to be sure of the best course of action for you is to consult with a qualified immigration attorney. Also note that filing Form I-600A without a home study and obtaining custody of a child prematurely may cause some disruptions to the typical adoption time-line.

Mr. Trump has also promised to end the DACA program (a program that grants people brought here as minors temporary status) and to build a wall (and make Mexico pay for it). He’ll have to make good on at least some of his promises. My guess is DACA will be gone and we will no longer accept refugees from Muslim countries. These are the low hanging fruit and the easiest things for him to accomplish quickly. It is simply unknowable whether or not he will follow through on his promise to ban Muslims from coming to the US. If you think that he may follow through on his campaign promises, you should consider taking the steps described above to protect yourself and your child from any new rules that might be coming our way.