President Trump’s new travel ban or Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” goes into effect March 16. Government resources on the new order include:
The Executive Order
Questions and Answers – these are especially helpful to understand your individual situation.
The new order replaces the original travel ban issued Jan. 27 which led to chaos at airports and was put on hold by courts. That order will be revoked when the new order goes into effect. The new order is more carefully written and includes more extensive justification for the measures. It’s still a Muslim ban, in my humble opinion, but a more craftily written Muslim ban. It’s already being challenged in the courts and hopefully will be put on hold before March 16. I won’t comment on the immorality of this order; suffice it to say I agree with David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, who says the new order is “a propaganda gift for extremists,” counterproductive and cruel.
Policy and Purpose (Section 1). Includes extensive reasoning (read it please!) to explain why these six countries, but no longer Iraq, are included. The goal is to improve the screening and vetting protocols and procedures regarding the issuance of visas and the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). There will be a temporary pause on the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, subject to categorical exceptions and case-by-case waivers, as described in section 3.
Entry ban of nationals of 6 countries for 90 days (Sections 2- 3). The Secretary of Homeland Security (John Kelly is the new DHS Secretary) will conduct a review of information needed from other countries to properly screen their nationals for U.S. visas and other immigration benefits. Countries that do not provide adequate information to the U.S. will have 50 days to start doing so. After this 50-day period, the DHS Secretary will provide the President with a list of countries that are not complying with the U.S. request and their nationals may be subject to a longer ban. Additional countries can be added at any time.
Pending this review process, foreign nationals of the 6 countries will not be allowed to enter the U.S. if they are outside the country on March 16, did not have a valid visa on Jan. 27 and don’t have a valid visa on March 16. This provision is aimed at preventing the chaos that ensued in January when people boarded planes abroad with valid visas but were refused entry when they arrived in the U.S.
The most common exceptions to the ban include – Section 3(b):
- Lawful permanent residents i.e. U.S. green card holders;
- Foreign nationals (FNs) admitted to, paroled into or has a valid travel document into the U.S. on or after March 16;
- Dual nationals traveling on a passport from a non-banned country;
- FNs granted asylum, refugees already admitted, and others granted protection by the U.S. e.g. under the Convention Against Torture.
Waivers – Section 3(c). Thankfully waivers can be granted by individual officers at foreign embassies/consulates or at the border on a case-by-case basis “if the foreign national has demonstrated to the officer’s satisfaction that denying entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship, and that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest.” The order then lists specific circumstances in which waivers could be appropriate, including:
- the foreign national (FN) has previously been admitted to the U.S. for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the country on March 16, seeks to reenter the US to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry during the suspension period would impair that activity. In other words, students and workers outside the U.S. whose visas have expired and need to apply for a new visa at the consulate abroad can be granted a visa, and those traveling outside the U.S. on a valid visa can be re-admitted at the border/airport.
- the FN has previously established significant contacts with the U.S. but is outside the U.S. on the effective date of this order for work, study, or other lawful activity;
- the FN seeks to enter the U.S. for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations;
- the FN seeks to enter the U.S. to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfully admitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship;
- the FN is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case. The previous order delayed the entry of an Iranian infant girl who needed heart surgery; she could now get a waiver (she was eventually admitted and had the surgery in Oregon; it was successful).
- the FN has been employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee) and the employee can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government. After the first order, Iraqi’s who had risked their lives to serve as translators for the U.S. had been banned.
- the FN is traveling as a U.S. Government-sponsored exchange visitor.
Iraqis will be subject to additional inquiries (Section 4).
Uniform screening standards for immigration programs (Section 5). Uniform standards will be developed between several departments involved “to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis who support terrorism, violent extremism, acts of violence toward any group or class of people within the United States, or who present a risk of causing harm subsequent to their entry.
Refugee admissions. (Section 6). Note the relevant dates are October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017, which is the U.S. government’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. Travel of refugees into the U.S. under the refugee program will be suspended for 120 days from March 16, as will decisions on applications for refugee status. However exceptions are allowed on a case-by-case basis if it is determined “that the entry of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest and does not pose a threat to the security or welfare of the United States, including in circumstances such as the following: the individual’s entry would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement or arrangement, or the denial of entry would cause undue hardship. The number of refugees to be admitted will be reduced to 50,000 because more would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” There is no indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, as there was in the original order.
Entry-exit tracking system (Section 8). The development and implementation of such a system is to be expedited.
Visa interviews (Section 9). All applicants for nonimmigrant visas (these are temporary visas such as visitor visas, students, and some employment visas) must be interviewed in person. Note – the State Department had implemented a Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP) in which low-risk applicants, primarily in employment categories, did not need to attend an in-person interview if they were seeking to renew the same type of visa within 12 months of expiration of their prior visa; now all persons must attend in person. This will no doubt overload already backed up and busy U.S. consulates abroad.
Visa reciprocity (Section 10). The government will review whether other countries are treating U.S. nationals applying for nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, and if not, will make changes to U.S. visas to match.
Transparency and data collection (Section 11). Within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter, the government will make available data on foreign nationals charged or convicted of terrorism-related crimes or activity; or who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts or material support for terrorism-related organizations; the “number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals” and other information relevant to national safety and security. Note – what does it mean to be “radicalized after entry?” Regarding gender-based violence, there is not even a requirement of a conviction or arrest.
No visas issued before March 16 will be revoked as a result of the new order (Section 12). After the prior order, tens of thousands of visas were revoked which caused more chaos.
We don’t yet know whether the order will go into effect or what problems will occur with the implementation. Except we do know it will cause problems in the everyday lives of Americans and foreign nationals who deserve better than this fear-fueled, unnecessary policy.