U.S. Bans People From Seven Countries

The U.S. President Donald Trump stunned the world when he signed an Executive Ban on refugees/ residents of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days. Trump stressed upon his campaign agenda of keeping America safe. Trump said his Executive ban was not targeted at any specific religious group. The countries chosen in the executive order to protect Americans from terrorists, were the countries that have already been identified as high-risk by the Congress and the Obama administration. The order also includes a 120-day halt on admitting refugees and an indefinite pause on admitting refugees from Syria.

Who Is Not Affected?

The executive order applies only to non-U.S. citizens, so anyone with a U.S. citizenship, whether that person in natural-born or naturalized, is not affected. But the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents would have discretionary authority to question U.S. citizens coming from the seven countries. 

Who Is Affected By The Ban?

For 120 days, the order bars the entry of any refugee who is awaiting resettlement in the U.S. It also prohibits all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. until further notice. Additionally, it completely bans the citizens of seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen from entering the U.S. on any visa category. Individuals who are permanent residents of the U.S. (green-card holders) who were traveling overseas to visit family or for work in the seven countries, would be considered on a case-by-case basis. Green-card holders from those countries who are in the U.S. will have to meet with a consular officer before leaving the U.S. The order also targets individuals of those countries who hold dual citizenship with another country. For instance, an individual who holds both Iraqi and Canadian citizenships didn’t apply to U.K. nationals. It does not apply to individuals who hold U.S. citizenship along with citizenship of another country though a CBP agent can presumably question such a person based on his or her discretion.

Why Were Those Seven Countries Chosen?

Trump said his policy is similar to what former President Barack Obama did in 2011, when he “banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” Trump’s unprecedented executive action applies to migrants and even U.S. legal residents from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen and refugees from around the world. People subject to the ban include dual nationals born in one of the seven countries who also hold passports from U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom.

“This is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe,” Trump reiterated. There are over 40 different countries worldwide with a religious group majority and they are not affected by this order, Trump stressed. The President said U.S. would resume issuing visas to all countries once the refugee and immigration policies were reviewed and the most secure policies are implemented, over the next three months. 

What Is The Impact?

The number of permanent residents from these countries is relatively small equaling 1,016,518 green cards issued in 2014. Of these, 19,153 went to Iraqis and 11,615 to Iranians, according to the Department of Homeland Security. These two countries make up the overwhelming majority of U.S. permanent residents from among the seven nations, which together have 500,000 permanent resident in the U.S. But these seven nations account for 40 percent of U.S. refugee intake. There have been numerous reports since the executive order was signed of people being prevented from boarding flights; refugees, who had gone through the years-long process before being approved to come to the U.S., stranded in third countries; of Iraqis who had worked for years with the U.S. military being denied entry; of Iranian students stuck overseas; of U.S. tech companies recalling its foreign workers because of the possible impact. And there have been protests against the order at airports across the country.  

Trump’s executive ban:

  1. Affects international relations with those countries. Iran has already banned U.S. nationals from entering its country.
  2. Impacts trade and thus the U.S. economy.
  3. Would make it harder for the U.S. to deport criminals to other nations. Iran which took a small number of deportees each year, may now stop.
  4. Will impact American travelers. Because visa programs are mostly reciprocal, countries affected by the U.S. ban could show their frustrations on U.S. travelers.
  5. Americans may not be barred from many countries since they contribute to tourism. But some countries may make it more challenging for American travelers by slowing the visa insurance process, or have their own restrictions to retaliate Trump’s visa ban.
  6. May significantly impact colleges and Universities in their international student enrollment.
  7. Will impede many tech companies who rely heavily on immigrant talent, due to a fall in supply.

Protests broke out across the U.S. and the world against the President’s executive order. At the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), staff members were told to stop work on any application filed by a person from any of the countries listed in the ban. Employees were told that applicants should be interviewed, but that their cases for citizenship, green cards or other immigration documents should be put on pause, pending further guidance.

Among the more than 750,000 refugees resettled in the United States since 9/11, the number that have been implicated in terrorist-related activities are minimal. This is because refugees already undergo intensive vetting that often takes two or more years before being admitted to the United States. It is important to remember that refugees are people who have demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution if they were to be return to their home countries. In 2016, the United States admitted 85,000 refugees, which was less than 0.4 percent of the some 21.3 million refugees worldwide. Of these, about 12,500 came from Syria, which was less than 0.2 percent of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees outside of Syria. There will be unintended consequences of how this policy will play out.