Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Trump Issues More Focused Travel Ban and Refugee Restrictions

As reported by the Washington Post, yesterday President Trump issued a narrower and more focused Executive Order (full text) imposing a 90-day suspension of entry into the United States by nationals of six Muslim-majority nations-- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraqi nationals are no long included in the travel ban, though they may be subjected to increased scrutiny.  The Order justifies this list of nations:
Each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones. Any of these circumstances diminishes the foreign government's willingness or ability to share or validate important information about individuals seeking to travel to the United States. Moreover, the significant presence in each of these countries of terrorist organizations, their members, and others exposed to those organizations increases the chance that conditions will be exploited to enable terrorist operatives or sympathizers to travel to the United States.... 
This new Order exempts, among others, lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and dual nationals traveling on other country passports.  The Order comes as the President's broader Order issued in January remains tied up in the courts.  Yesterday's Order begins with a lengthy section setting out justifications for the earlier Order.  Section 1.(b)(iv) lays out the Administration's argument against charges that the earlier Order favored Christian refugees over others:
Executive Order 13769 did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion. While that order allowed for prioritization of refugee claims from members of persecuted religious minority groups, that priority applied to refugees from every nation, including those in which Islam is a minority religion, and it applied to minority sects within a religion. That order was not motivated by animus toward any religion, but was instead intended to protect the ability of religious minorities -- whoever they are and wherever they reside -- to avail themselves of the USRAP in light of their particular challenges and circumstances.
Like the earlier Order, the new one suspends refugee entry of 120 days and limits the number of refugees in fiscal 2017 to 50,000. However, in the new Order Syrian refugees are not singled out for a longer suspension.