Trump's new travel ban is still unjustifiable and unacceptable

On September 24, President Trump signed a new proclamation placing restrictions on immigration and travel to the United States for nationals of certain countries. This is the White House’s third attempt to ban travel to the US based on national origin alone. Like the previous travel bans, this one is justified by the administration on national security grounds. But experts and officials within Trump’s own government have previously found that such restrictions do not have any positive impact on security. Rather than a legitimate security measure, this proclamation is a politically-motivated gesture intended to satisfy xenophobic, Islamophobic, and racist elements within the US. Unlike the previous “Muslim Ban” orders, this document adds two states that are not predominantly Muslim to the list of effective countries. Nevertheless, as US federal courts have confirmed based on the president’s own statements, these orders are all attempts to realize Trump’s campaign promise to ban foreign Muslims from entering the US. The Yemen Peace Project condemns this discriminatory decree, and calls on the courts and Congress to overturn these restrictions, as US law demands.

Earlier this year, federal courts issued decisions blocking several provisions of the Trump administration’s previous travel ban from taking effect. The US Supreme Court subsequently stayed the lower courts’ injunctions; in other words, the Supreme Court allowed the travel ban to take effect. The Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the travel ban on October 10. It is not clear yet whether the Court will change its plans because of this new proclamation.

The previous travel ban was intended as a set of temporary restrictions, which would block travel of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen while US authorities conducted an assessment of visa applicant vetting procedures, and developed new vetting and information-sharing requirements for countries around the world. This proclamation is framed as the result of that assessment, meaning that rather than lasting for a set period of time, these new restrictions will be in place indefinitely. According to the proclamation, US officials initially found that 16 countries had “inadequate” security and information-sharing procedures. These countries were then given 50 days to make changes to meet US standards; after that period, eight countries remained “inadequate.” The criteria upon which this judgment was made are classified, according to the proclamation. The eight countries in question are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The new restrictions on entry vary from country to country.

  • For North Korea and Syria: all immigrant and nonimmigrant entry is suspended.
  • For Chad, Libya, and Yemen: all immigrant entry is suspended. Nonimmigrant entry is suspended on business and tourist visas (specifically classes B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2). This means that some students and other classes of visitors may still apply for visas.
  • For Iran: immigrant entry is suspended. All nonimmigrant entry other than on student and special exchange visas is suspended.  
  • For Somalia: immigrant entry is suspended. Nonimmigrant entry is subject to “additional scrutiny.”
  • For Venezuela: entry is suspended for government officials involved in screening and vetting procedures, and their immediate family members.

In addition to these class-wide restrictions, any nationals of these countries who are still eligible for visas will be subject to “enhanced screening and vetting requirements.” These restrictions go into effect immediately for all the countries listed in the previous ban (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen), and on October 18 for the new countries (Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela). The government will review these restrictions every 180 days.

These restrictions will not affect “lawful permanent residents” of the US (green card holders), dual citizens travelling on the passport of an unlisted country, or anyone already holding a visa or other entry document. But they will affect the people who were exempted by the Supreme Court from the previous ban--namely, people with a “bona fide relationship” with US residents or institutions. 

This proclamation does not directly address the issue of future refugee resettlement from the listed countries, probably because the original travel ban set a longer period for temporary suspension and assessment of resettlement. The Trump administration lowered the US refugee resettlement cap for FY17 to 50,000. Having met this cap already, this means no more refugees will be admitted for the remainder of the fiscal year. We expect the administration to release a separate order regarding refugee resettlement at some later date.

The YPP and other civil rights organizations across the US will launch constituent actions and other efforts in the coming weeks to challenge and overturn these restrictions, and we urge members of Congress to introduce legislation block this administration’s xenophobic and ineffective executive order.

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