President Trump Immigration Ban 101

By Nehal R. Solanki Patel

On January 27th, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order 13769 under the authority granted by Article II of the constitution and under Section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” No visas were issued for 90-days to migrants or visitors from seven majority Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Section 1 of the order states that it is a policy the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals.

       Executive Order 13769 went into effect immediately, reportedly without thorough vetting by the Department of Homeland Security. Many people who were in transit to the United States had their approved visas rejected at their departing airport or were detained by the TSA upon arrival. Many scientists were affected during this initial period, including several working here in Philadelphia (see https://goo.gl/QZ55wa, https://goo.gl/SgBn5W, and https://goo.gl/ALKy8N). Numerous federal court cases were filed to challenge the order’s legality, and on February 3rd, 2017 a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide restraining order stopping the order’s effects.

       On March 6th, 2017 President Trump signed a new Executive Order, 13780, which updated the Executive Order 13769. The new immigration order was scheduled to take effect after a 10-day delay on March 16th. The new order made several changes to the original travel ban, including the following:

  • Removes Iraq from the list of effected countries, leaving Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
  • Visa holders are no longer affected.
  • Syrian refugees are barred temporarily.
  • Refugees already granted asylum will be allowed.
  • References to support for the US Constitution and other beliefs removed. Details added about why the six countries were selected (see p.7).
  • Specifies that it does not affect foreign nationals with valid visas and refugees whose travel had already been scheduled with the State Department.
  • Authorizes consular officials to waive the travel restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

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         The new executive order restarts the 90-day suspension of entry for nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Several legal challenges are currently being organized to the new executive order including a temporary restraining order blocking Trump Administration’s revised travel ban from taking effect on March 16th 2017.

The following descriptions were issued:

Iran. Has been designated as concerned country for terrorism since 1984 and continues to support various groups, including Hizballah and Hamas. Iran has also been linked to al-Qa’ida and has not cooperated with the United States in counter-terrorism efforts.

Libya. Is an active combat zone, and has several hostilities between the internationally recognized government and its rivals. The United States Embassy in Libya suspended its operation in 2014.

Somalia. Has been a safe haven for terrorists. Al-Shaba’ab has operated in Somalia for several years and Somali government has cooperated with United States in the past, however, they do not have the capacity to investigate suspected terrorists.

Sudan. Has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism because of the support it has provided to Hizballah and Hamas since 1993. Sudan cooperates with the United States.

Syria. Has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. Although Syrian government is actively in conflict with ISIS, they support other terrorist organizations. Syria does not support United States counter-terrorism efforts.

Yemen. Has been exploited by Al-Qa’ida and ISIS. Yemen has been under several attacks and has served as a porous border to smuggle weapons to al-Qa’ida. Yemen has been supportive of the counterterrorism efforts by the United States.

      Besides causing the chaos in airports around the United States (see next page), President Trump’s immigration ban has created a lot of commotion in the scientific community. We held a survey (p. 10 and p.15) to hear from our research and medical community in the Philadelphia area in the month of February when the 90-day travel ban was first placed. Rabe’ (p. 9) and Fatemeh were able to comment on their personal stories and how they were impacted by the ban. The survey was conducted prior to the issue of the revised executive order (13780). However, as it stands, the new order will likely create significant difficulties for several BPP postdocs, as well as other scientists in Philadelphia (see https://goo.gl/xIMGkw). We also have a list of resources for you (p.22) along with an informative article on “How to talk to your Friends and Family about the Immigration Ban” by Sean McClory (p.18).


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