What You Need to Know About the U.S. Travel Ban

If you’ve been out of touch with the news, you may not have heard of Executive Order (EO) 13769, alternatively titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The mandate was signed by the current U.S. president on January 27th of this year. Given that it affects thousands of people in the United States and abroad, there are a few essential facts you should know about the travel ban.

What It Does

The order reduced the number of refugees admitted into the United States to 50,000 this year, and indefinitely suspended entry by Syrian refugees. It also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, after which individual countries and persecuted minority religious groups would get priority under the program. Perhaps most controversially of all, the EO banned entry of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for at least 90 days, including those with valid visas.

Where It Stands

Currently, a nationwide temporary restraining order prevents any organizations from acting on the ban. The state of Washington filed a legal challenge against the EO, and on February 3, Judge James Robart of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a ruling that temporarily blocked major parts of the ban. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the current president’s petition to stay the restraining order. The current administration has stated that another Executive Order is in the works, one which, according to early drafts, continues to single out the same 7 Muslim-majority countries as the original.

Who It Affects

Any citizens of the following countries will be directly affected by the ban:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

While, initially, the ban affected the travel of people with legal visas, since the EO has been challenged, those with valid permits should not currently be affected. Those with dual citizenship would be affected if they can’t present a valid passport from a non-banned country. One of the most disturbing parts of this order is its exclusion of refugees from a safe haven. Any refugees from Syria are barred altogether until the EO is overturned, and refugees from un-banned countries must wait 120 days (about 4 months) before they may or may not be allowed entry into the United States. About 4.1 million Syrians are seeking escape from their war-torn country. Since 2011, the United States has resettled only 1,500 Syrian refugees. Compare that number to Canada, which has helped more than 2,370 refugees since 2014, almost twice as many in half the amount of time.

Why It’s Bad

Since the ban, around 60,000 visas were revoked, including immigrant and non-immigrant visas. It also affected students from abroad and families whose members live in those Muslim-majority countries. While some may believe the EO protects the United States from terrorists, let’s look at the numbers:

  • Before the ban, only 7.8% of terrorist attacks affected the United States.
  • Since 9/11, white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics, and non-Muslim extremists have killed almost twice as many people as radical Muslims.
  • While 9/11 was the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, the second-most deadly was the attack by Timothy McVeigh, a white antigovernment fanatic who perpetrated the Oklahoma City bombing (168 dead, 600 wounded).

Fear of attack is understandable, as self-preservation is one of the strongest instincts we have as humans. However, overlooking the fact that not all violent extremists are Muslims (and not all Muslims are violent extremists) opens the United States up to attack from within, shows the country prioritizes fear over compassion, and allows hatred to override the fact that insanity is a worldwide epidemic.

If you think you or loved ones will be affected by the reinstated ban or the new impending executive order, contact one of our experienced New York City immigration law attorneys. We have helped people from many countries in all walks of life. Call us at (888) 502-8461 or fill out our online form for a free initial consultation.

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