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Monday, January 30, 2017

A Summary of President Trump's Executive Order, "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States."

Since the start of his presidency, President Trump has issued several executive orders. The latest and perhaps most controversial in the series came this past Friday, January 27, 2017. On Friday, President Trump issued an executive order titled, "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." Below is a summary of the Order and it's implications.

Suspension of United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days:

The Order suspends the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. During this time, the Department of State along with the Department of Homeland Security will review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine whether they need to implement additional procedures to ensure that those who are approved do not pose a threat to the United States. During the 120 day halt, limited exceptions may be made for individual refugees on a case-by-case basis if it is in the national interest (this includes when an individual is a part of a religious minority in his/her country of citizenship and is facing prosecution because of it), when admitting an individual would conform under a preexisting international agreement, or when the individual is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship.

Indefinite Ban on Syrian Refugees:
The President's Executive Order places an indefinite ban on incoming Syrian refugees. The Order states that the ban is in place until the President determines that sufficient changes have been made to ensure that USRAP aligns with US national interests.

90 Day Ban on Entry for Individuals of Seven Predominantly Muslim Countries:

The Order places a ban on individuals looking to enter the United States from seven predominantly Muslim nations. They are Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This excludes diplomats, NATO visas, C-2's (United Nations related visa), and G visas (international organization officials, employees, and their family members).

Suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP):

The President's Order now requires that the Department of State immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program. Going forward, nonimmigrant visa applicants will need to attend a personal interview unless an interview is not required by statute. Until now, visa interview waivers have been granted to low-risk travelers who have already been vetted by the US government. Examples include individuals who have demonstrated a track record of stable employment, stable travel, and/or have a history of low-security risk.

Screening of All Immigration Benefits:

The Order directs federal agencies to develop screening standards and procedures for all immigration benefits to identify fraud and detect whether an individual intends to do harm upon entering the United States.

Completion of an Integrated Biometrics Entry-Exit System:

The President has ordered federal agencies to expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system. This system will keep track of every traveler entering and exiting the United States. The Department of Homeland Security has 100 days from the date of the Order to submit an initial report outlining the progress made towards completion of the system.

*** UPDATE: On January 28, 2017, an emergency petition was filed with US District Court Judge (Eastern District of New York), Ann Donnelly. Judge Donnelly issued an emergency order that prohibits the removal of individuals with refugee applications that have been approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen that are already legally authorized to enter the United States. This case is ongoing, and the Order issued by Judge Donnelly is meant to act as a temporary fix until a full hearing on the merits of the petition can be addressed by the Court.

BridgehouseLaw is committed to staying up to date on this issue and will provide updates via our website or on twitter @BridgehouseUS.

Friday, January 06, 2017

German American Business Outlook 2017

What are German American Business thinking about the current business conditions in the United States? And what are they expecting for 2017?

With the results of last year's presidential election in mind, the German American Chambers of Commerce, the Representative of German Industry and Trade, and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants conducted a survey among 1900 headquarters of German companies in the United States. Their findings were summed up in the German American Business Outlook 2017.

In terms of political development, 28% of the consulted businesses are expecting a negative impact, while 30% expect that the newly elected U.S. Administration’s economic policies will benefit their U.S. Business. 40% expect no impact at all. The good news is also that approximately 85% of participating businesses are planning to expand their workforce and hire further employees in 2017 - provided that they can find enough skilled workers. 69% percent of businesses encountered difficulties attracting skilled labor in 2016, with Manufacturing and Engineering being the most competitive sectors in that regard.
35% of companies plan to invest in IT & big data in 2017, and with 28% investment in Manufacturing continues to be positive as well.
Interestingly enough, most companies are more optimistic about their own business growth outlook than about the U.S. economy as a whole. After all, driven by customer demand, the U.S. market remains a key strategic focus for many German companies. For more information on the survey and a presentation of further results please see here:

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Too late, but never too late - Prosecution against aging Nazis

In the past two years, two men, Reinhold Hanning and Oskar Groning, who had worked as guards and bookkeepers at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II were convicted to four- and five-year sentences for accessory to murder in German courts. Both men are in their 90s today and while it might seem futile to pursue cases against defendants this old, Attorney Christoph Rückel emphasized that their cases were also "too important to be ignored". Rückel, who amongst other things is of counsel at BridgehouseLaw in Atlanta represented 23 Auschwitz survivors in these cases and helped prosecutors win the recent convictions.
In the 1970s, Germany had lifted a 30-year statute of limitation on Holocaust crimes. However, many German courts still required "direct action" in the deaths in order for the defendant to be convicted.
In 2011, the Regional Court of Munich (Landgericht München) had convicted another guard, but the man died before the judgment was final (rechtskräftig). Just recently, in September 2016, the German Supreme Court confirmed Hanning's and Groning's conviction. Newer interpretations of the law allow prosecutions against those who "supported the system of the killing machine".
Former bookkeeper Oskar Groning is currently 95 years of age.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

'The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield is a tremendous victory for privacy, individuals, and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.'- U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

What do you need to do and why?

European businesses are prohibited from transferring data if certain data protection requirements are not being met. An American business which seeks to maintain its transatlantic transactions, thus, has a genuine interest in complying with such requirements. The Privacy Shield program is administered by the International Trade Administration (ITA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. It enables U.S.-based organizations to join the Privacy Shield Framework in order to benefit from the adequacy determination. To join the Privacy Shield Framework, a U.S.-based organization will be required to self-certify to the Department of Commerce (via this website) and publicly commit to complying with the Framework's requirements. While joining the Privacy Shield Framework is voluntary, once an eligible organization makes the public commitment to comply with the Framework's requirements, the commitment will become enforceable under U.S. law. All organizations interested in joining the Privacy Shield Framework should review its requirements in their entirety.

The Background

It is all about receiving data from EU countries and data protection which must happen in a certain way to avoid severe monetary fines. In order to maintain transatlantic business, the previous 'Safe Habour' framework was aiming to provide such data protection. However, the European Court of Justice held this framework invalid on October 6, 2015 for being insufficient. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield is its successor.

The Issue

Many transatlantic transactions require the transfer of personal data, especially in today's digital economy. Such data often contains names, phone number, birth date, home and email address, credit card number, national insurance or employee number, login name, gender and marital status, or other information that makes it possible to identify you. For instance, your data may be collected in the EU by a branch or a business partner of an American company, which receives the data and then uses it in the U.S. This is the case, for instance, when goods or services are bought online, when using social media or cloud storage services, or if you are an employee of an EU-based company that uses a company in the U.S. (e.g. the parent company) to deal with personnel data.

The new EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

EU law requires that when your personal data are transferred to the U.S they continue to benefit from a high level of protection. This is where the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield comes in. The Privacy Shield allows your personal data to be transferred from the EU to a company in the United States, provided that the U.S. - company processes (e.g. uses, stores and further transfers) your personal data according to a strong set of data protection rules and safeguards. The protection given to the data applies regardless of whether the person is an EU citizen or not. A PDF-guide with further information can be found here.