In a move sure to be both praised and vilified, President Trump is ready to issue an executive order which will temporarily deny entry into the U.S. for people from several countries in the Middle East while also setting up a process to more carefully vet potential entrants in the future. The immediate list of affection countries consists of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen; more could be added later.
The executive order will address two main areas:
1- Admittance to the United States by foreign nationals from the listed countries
2- Refugees applying for entry into the U.S. who are coming from the listed countries
I’ve summarized the pertinent points of each area below.
- Regarding foreign nationals, the order provides for the following:
- A halt on entry from the listed countries begins 30 days after the order is issued (see update from 29 January below).
- During that 30 days, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, and the Director of National Intelligence are “to conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to verify the identities of those looking to enter, and to make sure they are not a security or public-safety threat.”
- For those countries which do not yet supply the information required, 60 days will be given for them to do so.
- Any country which does not supply the needed information by the end of the deadline will have its nationals barred from entry into the U.S. until it complies
- It is expected that after a process is put in place to consistently vet potential entrants that entry will be re-opened to nationals from the listed countries.
2. Regarding refugees, the order provides for the following:
- Admission of all refugees is suspended for 120 days.
- During that 120 days, “the Secretary of State is instructed to review refugee application procedures.”
- Religious minorities facing persecution in their home countries will have their applications for asylum prioritized (potentially still being admitted during the 120 day freeze).
- All Syrian refugees will be denied entry “until Trump has determined that necessary changes have been made to the refugee admissions program.”
The intent of these admission halts, then, is to give the relevant U.S. agencies time to come up with procedures for more carefully vetting entrants into the U.S. by people coming from war-torn countries which are known to contain militants and terrorists. The fact that these countries are racked by war should be an indication that allowing unfettered admission into the U.S. by those coming from these areas would be unwise.
I am sure, however, that the order will be characterized as a “ban,” particularly a “Muslim ban,” by those opposed to it. Reading the actual points of the order, though, it becomes apparent that the intent is simply to better protect American citizens, while still allowing people from the listed countries entry into the U.S. after being properly vetted. Within the context of Trump’s other executive orders in the past few days, it is apparent that he is following through on his campaign promises to better improve U.S. border control and security.
Update on 29 January:
The original article was written before Trump issued the order, based on information about its expected contents. On Friday (27 January), Trump signed the order which differs somewhat from what was expected. The major change is that there is now no 30 day interim period prior to banning entry by foreign nationals from the listed countries (i.e. the first bullet point under section 1 above). Instead, the ban began immediately after Trump issued the order and extends for 90 days. This has caused many problems for people who were in transit to the United States at the time the order was issued. The original planned 30 day interim would have caused far less havoc and been more advisable.