Trump's New Travel Ban
On Monday, March 6, President Trump signed a new executive order that bans immigration from Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia, and temporarily reinstates a blanket ban over all refugees.
The new travel ban is introduced six weeks after Trump’s original executive order, which caused nationwide chaos before being blocked by the Ninth Circuit federal court. Unlike the previous order, this new ban does not indefinitely ban Syrian refugees, nor does it call for the prioritization of the admission of refugees who are religious minorities in their home countries. That specific provision of the previous order drew widespread criticism, as it disproportionately prioritized Christians who are a religious minority in the aforementioned Muslim-majority countries.
The new ban will take effect on March 16, 2017. The ban also explicitly exempts legal permanent residents of the six banned countries, or those who have valid visas, to enter the U.S., including the visas that were revoked during the implementation of the original ban. The new measures will additionally block citizens of the banned countries from obtaining visas for at least 90 days and will suspend the admission of refugees for 120 days.
Furthermore, unlike the first travel ban, Iraq is excluded. The redaction is allegedly due to the claim made by the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who, according to administration officials, feared it would hamper efforts against the Islamic State. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said Iraq’s removal from the list was a result of an intense review to improve vetting of Iraqi citizens, but he has not specified how.
The language of the travel ban might have changed, but still it reflects President Trump’s “America First” pledge to safeguard against a supposedly hidden influx of terrorists and criminals. Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said that the order was now “prospective” and applied “only to foreign nationals outside of the United States” who do not have a valid visa.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the ban “has the same fundamental flaws” as the first order. In a statement, he said, “We know that country of origin is a poor predictor of a propensity to commit acts of terror. If it were, Pakistan has been a far more problematic source of attack planning and would be at the top of the President's list, but that country merits not even a mention in the order.”
Similarly, Margaret Huang, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, said the new order would “cause extreme fear and uncertainty for thousands of families by, once again, putting anti-Muslim hatred into policy.” The last travel ban led to protests across the country and left people stranded in airports abroad and throughout the United States. More than 300 people admitted to the U.S. as refugees are being investigated by the FBI for potential terror-related activities, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not say how many of the 300 came from the banned countries, nor did he say what the alleged offences were, nor how many could face charges.