In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. – President Trump – Executive Order
It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.” – President Trump – Executive Order
President Trump issued an Executive Order that laid out a Travel Ban on seven nations on January 27, 2016. Outrage ensued.
The United States had 325,000 foreign visitors land on U.S. soil in the 24 hours after the Travel Ban was issued. 109 were detained. All were released.
Directly stated, President Trump’s Travel Ban impacted .003% of all foreign travelers in the first 24 hours in which it was enacted.
The Travel Ban contains three major pronouncements:
- Places a 90 day suspension on U.S. entry for all citizens of “Countries of Particular Concern”. This designation – and the nations which make up the list – was compiled and created by the Obama Administration and includes seven nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Syria.
- Suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days.
- Puts an indefinite hold on the admission of Syrian refugees.
The only country mentioned by name in Trump’s Executive Order is Syria – no other country is specifically mentioned in the entire document.
Instead, the term “Countries of Particular Concern” is used.
The “Countries of Particular Concern” list was compiled for very good reason – and was created in January 2016 by Obama’s Homeland Security Department. The initial announcement is here and contains the following language:
Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
In mid-February 2016, the Countries of Particular Concern list was updated by the Obama Administration with a second DHS press release.
The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it is continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.
The addition of these three countries is indicative of the Department’s continued focus on the threat of foreign fighters. DHS continues to review the security of the Visa Waiver Program, the threat environment, and potential vulnerabilities. This is the latest step in a series of actions over the past 15 months to strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program and ensure the Program’s requirements are commensurate with the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters, many of whom are nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries.
President Trump did not select the nations to be included under the Travel Ban. He took the countries the Obama Administration singled out due to “the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters”.
President Obama cancelled Visa Waivers for the citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. President Trump is now temporarily banning travel and immigration from these same countries – countries that have been designated as jihadist conflict zones. The 90-day ban is in place while we implement Uniform Screening Standards and begin to implement a Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System. A case-by-case exemption clause is also included in the order. This would allow for individuals such as interpreters helping our armed forces to be allowed in.
The 90-day ban is in place so that we can “determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat”. This is a right-minded action and the vetting process being put in place should have existed long ago.
The Refugee Admissions suspension places a 120 day ban on refugees from these same countries and limits refugee admissions to 50,000 per year. The number of 50,000 represents a rough average of refugees we have accepted annually as a nation over the years following the 9/11 attacks – with the exception of 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up the refugee flow with 116,138 refugees admitted in the last 15 months. The Refugee suspension also contains a case-by-case exemption clause.
The hold on Syrian refugees is less consequential. The U.S. essentially did not allow Syrian refugees under the Obama administration until 2015 when we admitted 1,682. The number jumped dramatically in 2016 to 13,200. Meanwhile, ISIS has grown exponentially in Syria throughout that country’s civil war.
Events in Europe have shown that extremists have infiltrated the refugee population. A halt while we establish vetting processes is an action I believe to be fully warranted.
Section 5 (b) of the Executive Order states that the U.S. will “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. In other words, when the refugee suspension ends, those refugees who are most likely to be persecuted for their religion will be given preferential treatment. No religion is singled out. Which leads to an interesting point. Of the 13,200 refugees admitted from Syria in 2016 by Obama, 99.1% were Muslim while just 0.5% were Christian – despite Christians making up 10% of the Syrian population and being perhaps the most persecuted or targeted segment of the population.
As to media claims of a Muslim ban I specifically note that nowhere in the Executive Order is there a ban on Muslims. Nowhere.
The countries with the largest Muslim populations – Indonesia (210 million Muslims), India (176 million Muslims), Pakistan (168 million Muslims) and Bangladesh (135 million Muslims) are not included in the travel ban. Nor are Muslims from any other country banned. The ban applies only to the seven countries listed. And the ban is for all citizens of these seven countries – regardless of religion. The Travel Ban is for those countries that have previously been listed by the Obama Administration as being in the grip of jihadist violence.
I myself hope the list of countries is quickly expanded to include some other nations such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan until we can establish a more secure and reliable vetting process.
Finally, some are claiming this Travel Ban will lead to an increase in radicalization. You can have various views on this matter but I will state mine.
If large numbers of Muslims can be radicalized by a 90-day temporary ban, we have a far greater problem with radical Islamists than any are willing to admit. If even a portion of what is being claimed ultimately proves correct, I would then argue that Trump’s actions are all the more crucial. To refuse to act in the interests of our national security out of fear, is an act of national insanity.
Trump’s Executive Order calls for a temporary halt on immigration from seven troubled countries while we improve our vetting process. This is a rational response. My only concern is that we are limiting ourselves to countries determined to be a threat by the Obama Administration. The temporary ban should be expanded to include additional countries where Islamist extremism – or terrorism of any kind – has significant presence.
For those interested, I have gone through the full Executive Order – section by section – and have posted the relevant language with the most salient parts italicized. It makes for an interesting perusal – and contains nothing that I find as “out of bounds”, lacking in thoughtfulness or “hidden”.
And there is no Muslim Ban.
Actual process language begins in Section 3 – all language is directly taken from the order – in abbreviated form – except for language in parentheses which is mine. The most relevant language is italicized. The full Executive Order is here:
Sec 1 – Purpose:
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Sec 2 – Policy:
It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.
Sec 3 – Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern:
Sec 3(a) Immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.
Sec 3 (b) A report on the results of the review…including determination of the information needed for adjudications (a formal judgment) and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order.
Sec 3 (c) Suspend entry into the United States of Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Syria) – for 90 days.
Excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas (this exclusion applies to every provision).
Sec 3 (d) The Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.
Sec 3 (e) Submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.
Sec 3 (f) Submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.
Sec 3 (g) Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.
Sec 3 (h) A joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days, a third report within 90 days, and a fourth report within 120 days.
Sec 4 – Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs:
Sec 4 (a) The development of a uniform screening standard and procedure, such as in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.
Sec 4 (b) An initial report on the progress of this directive (4 (a)) within 60 days of the date of this order, a second report within 100 days, and a third report within 200 days.
Sec 5 – Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017:
Sec 5 (a) Suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. Review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.
Sec 5 (b) Prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.
Sec 5 (c) Proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP
Sec 5 (d) Proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.
Sec 5 (e) Admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest…and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.
Sec 5 (f) An initial report on the progress of the directive in subsection 5 (b) within 100 days of the date of this order and shall submit a second report within 200 days of the date of this order.
Sec 5 (g) State and local jurisdictions be granted a role in the process of determining the placement or settlement in their jurisdictions of aliens eligible to be admitted to the United States as refugees.
Sec 6 – Rescission of Exercise of Authority Relating to the Terrorism Grounds of Inadmissibility:
Consider rescinding the exercises of authority in section 212 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182, relating to the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility.
Sec 7 – Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System:
Sec 7 (a) Expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
Sec 7 (b) reports on the progress of the directive contained in subsection 6 (a) of this section. The initial report shall be submitted within 100 days of the date of this order, a second report shall be submitted within 200 days, and a third report shall be submitted within 365 days. Submit a report every 180 days thereafter until the system is fully deployed and operational.
Sec 8 – Visa Interview Security:
Sec 8 (a) Immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview.
Sec 8 (b) Expand the Consular Fellows Program to ensure that non-immigrant visa-interview wait times are not unduly affected.
Sec 9 – Visa Validity Reciprocity:
Review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are truly reciprocal.
Sec 10 – Transparency and Data Collection:
Sec 10 (a) collect and make publicly available within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter:
(i) information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons.
(ii) information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations.
(iii) information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals.
(iv) any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.
Sec 10 (b) report on the estimated long-term costs of the USRAP at the Federal, State, and local levels.
Sec 11 – General Provisions:
(a) Nothing in this order shall affect:
(i) authority granted by law to an executive department or agency
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
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