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Travel Ban 2.0: White House goes back to the drawing board

March 10, 2017

Rather than pursue further court challenges to the original “travel ban” executive order of January 27, the president instead issued a new Executive Order scrapping and attempting to cure legal deficiencies of the first one. Implementation of the first Executive Order was stopped by a Temporary Restraining Order issued by a federal court in Washington state, and upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The new Executive Order, issued March 6, 2017, bears the same title as its predecessor, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” As an attempted end-run around litigation, this new edict shows a White House apparently both undeterred and uninformed by the internal DHS memorandum entitled “Citizenship Likely an Unreliable Indicator of Terrorist Threat to the United States,” leaked to the Associated Press.

The President cited vague terrorism concerns for implementing the refreshed ban on entry of nationals from a few mostly-Muslim countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria & Yemen. It bars entry of nationals from these countries for 90 days, and the ban is to be revoked, reviewed, and expanded or extended as of June 14, 2017, if those countries fail to cooperate. Like its predecessor, it suspends refugee admissions and cuts the annual total limit on all refugees to 50,000. It also drastically curtails the availability of mail-in & drop-box programs for visa renewal applicants.

The initial ban and its replacement do not name or impact nationals of a broad array of other Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which gave us the 9/11 hijackers, nor do they target many other Muslim countries that happen to be home to certain gold tinted hotel properties.

Vainly hoping to avoid the legal impediments of its namesake, the new travel ban specifically excludes the following individuals from its impact:

  • Lawful Permanent Residents and nationals of the six named countries who hold valid nonimmigrant visas to the U.S.;
  • Any person lawfully admitted or paroled into the United States before the effective date of the Executive Order, March 16, 2017;
  • Any dual national of the six named countries seeking admission to the U.S. under  the passport of a country that is not on the list;
  • Any national of one of the six countries traveling on an A or G diplomatic visa, NATO visa, or C-2 transit visa for travel to the United Nations;
  • Anyone already admitted to the U.S. as a refugee, granted asylum in the U.S., granted withholding of removal, granted advance parole or protection under the Convention Against Torture, as of the effective date (3/16/2017).

As a way to avoid legal challenges, travel ban 2.0 has failed spectacularly: the revised Executive Order has already prompted lawsuits by Hawaii, Washington, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon, joined in Maryland by immigrant advocacy groups & the ACLU. On Wednesday March 15,  judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii issued a TRO halting implementation of the new travel ban, and on Thursday, March 16, judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland issued a narrower order striking down the portion of the ban refusing to issue visas to nationals of the six countries.

Last updated March 17, 2017


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