Update: On Jan. 19, the Supreme Court said it will decide by June whether President Trump’s responsibility to protect the nation grants him authority to ban travelers from specific countries.
A federal judge on Oct. 17 largely blocked the Trump administration from implementing the latest version of the president’s controversial travel ban. On Oct. 18, a second judge ruled against the ban, saying Trump’s own words show it was aimed at Muslims.
Countries targeted in Trump’s new travel ban
Beginning Oct. 18, visitors from eight countries face new restrictions when trying to immigrate to the United States or get visitor visas. President Trump’s administration crafted its new, more permanent travel ban after earlier versions were blocked in court. The Supreme Court delayed its Oct. 10 hearing on the previous bans, giving both sides time to update their arguments. Here’s who the new ban covers:
The new ban comes after the Department of Homeland Security and State Department evaluated the immigration and visa entry process during a 90-day period that began when the Supreme Court allowed the second version of Trump’s travel ban to take effect.
Trump’s ban says the agencies scrutinized nearly 200 countries based on three criteria measuring their cooperation and information-sharing with the United States. The assessment found 47 countries were either inadequate or at risk of inadequacy. All but eight enacted measures to improve screening. Three of these countries — North Korea, Chad and Venezuela — did not appear on earlier travel ban lists.
[Latest travel ban will probably affect tens of thousands, and it could short-circuit the court battle]
Sudan was on the original list but is no longer subject to the travel ban, though the United States still designates Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett reported that administration officials said Sudan’s cooperation with the United States on immigrant screening allowed for its removal. The ban said that immigrants and travelers from Iraq, a country that appeared on the first banned list but not on the second, will still be subject to additional scrutiny.
Leon Fresco, an immigration lawyer at Holland and Knight, said all these changes and an improved case-by-case waiver system make it more likely that the new ban will stay in place.
“If it hadn’t been for the original genesis of why this entire project was created — the campaign promise of the travel ban for Muslims — this would be something that nobody would even think twice about,” he said.
More than 65,000 people from the affected countries immigrated to the United States or used the now-banned visas in fiscal year 2016. Here’s the breakdown:
Two are state sponsors of terror and another is North Korea
The two countries that face the most stringent restrictions under the travel ban are North Korea and Syria, where all U.S. immigration and all new U.S. visa applications will be halted starting Oct. 18.
All U.S. immigration and most visa applications from Iran will also be banned, but Iranian students will still be able to apply for specific educational visas to enter the United States.
Both Iran and Syria are considered state sponsors of terrorism by the State Department. The North Korea travel ban comes amid a protracted standoff over the country’s nuclear weapons program. Only 61 North Koreans traveled or emigrated to the United States last year under programs that would be banned now.
[Almost no North Koreans travel to the U.S., so why ban them?]
Other countries lose access because of poor information sharing or terrorism
Trump’s proclamation says that Chad, Libya and Yemen are “counterterrorism partners” but also bans all immigration and the most popular, easiest-to-get type of visa for people from those countries.
[Why did the U.S. travel ban add counterterrorism partner Chad? No one seems quite sure.]
In Somalia, called a “terrorist safe haven” in the proclamation, U.S. immigration will be banned and visa applicants will face increased screening.
The last country on the list, Venezuela, sent more than 150,000 visa recipients to the United States in fiscal year 2016 — more than double all the other banned countries, combined. But, restrictions there are narrowly designed to only affect members of the country’s leadership and their families, who will not be able to apply for popular business and tourism visas.
About this story
Policy data from the White House. Immigration data from the State Department.
Originally published Sept. 26, 2017.
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