By Miriam Raftery
March 7, 2017 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump has issued a new, more narrowly crafted executive order restricting refugees’ entry into the U.S. after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked implementation of his earlier executive order as unconstitutional. Here’s what the new ban includes:
- A 120-day ban on refugees from all nations entering the U.S.; the total number of refugees admitted has been reduced from 110,000 approved by the Obama administration to 50,000 for this fiscal year.
- A 90-day ban on issuance of new visas to people from 6 predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen;
- Iraq has been dropped from the list, at the urging of the State Department, to assure that those helping the U.S. military can be protected, and after improved vetting.
- Syrian refugees will no longer be blocked indefinitely, though the 120-day restriction for all refugees will apply to Syrians.
- People with green cards and visas are now able to enter the U.S., unlike under the previous order. This includes people with green cards and visa who were denied entry after the earlier ban took effect.
- The new order will not take effect until March 16, to avoid chaos at airports or people in mid-transit being detained, as occurred with the earlier ban.
The new ban has drawn both praise and criticism.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a press statement which states that the new executive order “will make America safer and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system.“ The department will also undergo a review of its visa and refugee vetting programs.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the new order, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” a “vital measure for strengthening our national security” while noting that no system is infallible.
The DHS statement makes clear, “It is important to note that nothing in this executive order affects current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our country. If you have a current valid visa to travel, we welcome you. But unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake.”
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement pledging to challenge the new measure in court. The ACLU statement reads in part, “When President Trump first introduced his unconstitutional Muslim ban, we took him to court and won. Today, he is introducing a new version of the ban. And we have every intention to beat him again.”
Amnesty International executive director Margaret Huang issued this press statement, “This is just another Muslim ban. It is the same hate and fear, with new packaging. We must stop this.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a statement indicating that Trump’s decision to rescind his earlier travel ban after multiple court rulings against his administration “confirms what we all knew; the travel ban was unconstitutional and un-American.” Becerra, who filed amicus briefs joining the successful challenge filed by Washington State, said his office will be closely examining the new order to assure it respects “our Constitution and our way of life,” adding, “No one will or should soon forget the trump administration’s multiple, public promises to ban Muslims from the country.”
He also praised the new order’s change to allow legal residents and visa holders entry. “It represents a major victory for the thousands of lawful permanent residents and visa holders in California, as well as all those across our nation who cherish our Constitution, diversity, tolerance and fairness,” the state’s Attorney General concludes.
The Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business owners, issued a statement questioning the order as stemming from “discriminatory intent” adding, “Endangered refugees will lose hope of safe resettlement, people will suffer, and communities and local economies will be hurt.”
The business group blames Trump’s earlier executive order and anti-immigrant rhetoric for leading to the “Trump Slump”, a “sharp decline in tourism that economists believe will cost the U.S. $10 billion annually, with some estimates even higher. With millions of small business owners relying on tourism to drive their local economies and support their businesses, this decline could result in closed doors, lost jobs, and crumbling Main Street.”
Research shows that the vast majority of refugees work and pay taxes within a few months of arriving in the U.S., the Main Street Alliance notes. “They start businesses, create jobs, buy homes, renew neighborhoods, and pump dollars into the local economy. This means a stronger, more inclusive, and thriving Main Street.”
Mark Arabo, president of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation in San Diego, said the decision to allow Iraqis to once again enter the U.S. is being welcomed by Chaldean Christians locally, but that others believe the broader ban on refugees hurts the U.S. and our interests abroad.
“This is a welcome decision for Iraqis, but not for refugees around the world,” Arabo states. “There is no disclaimer on the Statue of Liberty. Our constitution does not come with fine print. The premise still remains the same—any blanket ban on refugees doesn’t protect us, it makes us a target…President Trump is giving terrorists around the world ammunition for their beliefs. He continues to fan the flames of extremist hatred and ideology. I can only pray that his irrational decisions do not bring harm to our nation.”