President Trump has just signed a new Executive Order blocking many people from six Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States. The countries that are banned are Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya. Visa processing for these six countries will be suspended for at least 90 days. The new executive order comes after Trump’s last Muslim Ban was put on hold by federal courts around the country.
Unlike the earlier Muslim Ban, the new order does not go into effect immediately. It will be implemented on March 16, 2017. Beginning on that date, the order will exclude people “who are outside the United States and who did not have a valid visa at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 27, 2017, and do not have a valid visa on the effective date of this order,” according to a leaked Q&A explaining the new ban.
According to the leaked guidance, the new executive order will not have an impact on some visa holders from the six countries. The guidance says: “Individuals holding valid visas on the effective date of the Executive Order or on January 27, 2017 prior to 5:00 PM do not fall within the scope of the Order.”
It also should not impact those immigrants from the six countries who already have permanent residence and who travel abroad. According to the Q&A, “the suspension of entry does not apply to lawful permanent residents of the United States.”
The ban does not apply to people from Iraq, a country covered by the first Muslim Travel Ban. The Trump administration came under intense pressure from the government of Iraq to remove it from the list of banned countries. Some legislators in that country proposed retaliatory measures in response that would have barred Americans from entering Iraq.
The executive order also reinstates the closing of refugee admissions worldwide. According to the guidance leaked to the press: “the Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and interagency partners review screening procedures.” The indefinite ban on Syrian refugees that was in the earlier executive order is not in the order issued today.
Grace Meng of Human Rights Watch said that the changes in the Muslim Ban are “merely cosmetic.” Meng said that “President Trump still seems to believe you can determine who’s a terrorist by knowing which country a man, woman or child is from. Putting this executive order into effect will only create a false sense of security that genuine steps are being taken to protect Americans from attack, while undermining the standing of the US as a refuge for those at greater risk.”
Although the Muslim bans have been justified by Trump on national security grounds, a leaked Department of Homeland Security report contradicts the claim that “extreme vetting” will make us safer. The report says that in the few cases where immigrants have been involved in terrorism, the radicalization had occurred in the United States and “extreme vetting” would not have headed off the trouble.
White House insiders told the Los Angeles Times last week that top Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Steve Miller have broader goals for the Muslim Ban than merely vetting immigrants. They hope to use immigration policy to shift America’s changing demographics away from its growing racial and ethnic diversity. According to the Los Angeles Times:
“Inside the West Wing, the two men have pushed an ominous view of refugee and immigration flows, telling other policymakers that if large numbers of Muslims are allowed to enter the U.S., parts of American cities will begin to replicate marginalized immigrant neighborhoods in France, Germany and Belgium that have been home to plotters of terrorist attacks in recent years, according to a White House aide familiar with the discussions.”
The effort by Bannon and Miller to curtail non-white immigration reflects the approach of the president himself. Donald Trump’s speech at CPAC four years ago when he said: “I say to myself, why aren’t we letting people in from Europe? Nobody wants to say it — but I have many friends from Europe. They want to come in. People I know. Tremendous people. Hardworking people. They can’t come in.”
So while the newest executive order will be argued in the immigration courts on national security grounds, it really expresses the nationalist insecurity of its authors.