President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order Monday that restricts people from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States. Scheduled to take effect March 16, the order prohibits citizens from the six countries from coming into the U.S. for 90 days.
A revised version of a travel ban that was shot down in federal court earlier this year, the new order specifies that individuals who have already been issued visas, green-card holders, and dual citizens will not be denied entry to the country. Even so, Trump believes restricting travel from the six countries is essential to help insulate America from potential terrorist attacks on home soil. The order protects Americans “from countries compromised by terrorism and ensures a more rigorous vetting process,” according to a fact sheet the president’s administration released Monday.
In addition to the travel restrictions, Trump is also suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. The idea is to review the program to ensure it has rigorous screening procedures in place that will identify potential terrorists trying to enter the country while posing as refugees. Furthermore, once the program starts back up, the U.S. will admit a maximum of 50,000 refugees in fiscal 2017. During the final year of the Obama administration, the refugee limit was more than twice that number. Last year, about 10,000 Syrian refugees entered the country.
In the initial court-torpedoed travel ban that Trump signed, Iraq was included on the list of countries under U.S.-entry restriction. However, the Middle Eastern nation doesn’t face restrictions now because it is increasing cooperation with the U.S. on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States, the Trump administration said.
All six countries covered by the ban have Muslim-majority populations. Nonetheless, administration officials told reporters on Monday that the travel restrictions are not intended to target a specific religion. “(The order is) not any way targeted as a Muslim ban…we want to make sure everyone understands that,” an official told CNN.
Like its predecessor, the new travel ban is expected to be challenged in the courts. The American Civil Liberties Union, which legally challenged the original order, said the new restrictions have “the same fatal flaws as the original.”
An ACLU leader expanded on the point in a statement. “The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban. Instead, President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project. “What’s more, the changes the Trump administration has made, and everything we’ve learned since the original ban rolled out, completely undermine the bogus national security justifications the president has tried to hide behind and only strengthen the case against his unconstitutional executive orders.”