President Donald J. Trump has signed a new executive order that blocks immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. His administration’s first travel ban was quickly shot down by courts around the country; moreover, Iraq has been removed from the list per request of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Mattis believed that restricting Iraqi citizens from coming into the country could potentially cripple communication between the two governments when it comes to defeating the Islamic State.
The order serves as an updated version of the one enacted on January 27, which was thwarted by a federal appeals court. That initial travel ban drew harsh criticism from humanitarian rights organizations. At the same time, many Americans protested because they felt the ban was unconstitutional, based on Islamophobic sentiment, and because travelers with valid immigration papers and visas were barred entry into the country’s airports.
Trump’s controversial stance on immigration has proved to be incredibly divisive, even during a particularly divisive election. On the right, immigration restrictionists favor severe cutbacks on the number of refugees and immigrants allowed into the country. On the left, progressives favor increasing the number of refugees allowed into the country and creating a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
About 1.6 billion people lack adequate housing around the world, and Europe is also dealing with a massive influx of migrants and refugees trying to avoid war, famine, poverty, or simply a lack of job opportunities in their native countries.
Whereas the first ban barred many visa holders, this new order has some clear exemptions. Besides removing Iraq, Trump has said that permanent residents of the U.S. and current visa holders will no longer be included in this ban.
However, Trump also inserted a clause that says the U.S. will favor those fleeing from religious persecution.
Additionally, this new executive order reverses the indefinite ban on refugees from war-torn Syria. There will instead be a 120-day freeze, which will be reviewed and potentially renewed at the end of four months.
Despite these changes, this law has still emphasized the split between the right and the left. Like many Trump supporters, John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, believes that this law will prevent terrorists from entering the country.
“Unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake,” Kelly said.
Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer countered this remark, explaining that this is a “watered-down ban” that is still “mean-spirited and un-American.”
The ban will be implemented over the next two weeks. Already, state politicians and activist groups are trying to challenge the order in court.