Renewing Executive Orders, by Donald Trump
Deborah Porter, Foreign Policy Contributor
Another week of President Trump brought the 16th executive order, an edited immigration visa freeze, to fruition. Having written an order that was subsequently declared illegal by the 9th Circuit Appeals Court, this action attempts to rectify any misunderstandings and mistakes that were in the first one. Mainly, it does three things: one, removes the religious minority exclusion, two, removes Iraq from the seven countries covered, and three, clarifies and explicitly states protections for current visa holders. However, President Trump has still received the same backlash as the first order, albeit slightly lowered in media frenzy. Here’s a few interesting points about the new executive order.
Still not a Muslim Ban
One of Trump’s more famous campaign promises was that he would ban Muslims from entering the country until “our countries’ representatives can figure out what’s going on.” The legality of something on this scale would be very illegal, to say the least, but the statement has led to many calling Trump’s new order “Muslim Ban 2.0.” However, if that is the intended purpose of the bill, it has done a poor job of instituting a Muslim ban. It only included one of the top ten Muslim countries, Iran, ranked 7th in the world with 4.6% of the Muslim population. According to a Pew Research report, it only affects 12% of Muslims in the world. Arguably, if Trump had wanted to ban all Muslims from the United States, he would have at least included countries like Pakistan.
Furthermore, although Trump did not freeze immigration for more than one of the top 10 Muslim nations, he also did pick some nations based on the nationalities of terrorists. According to a Heritage Foundation report, there have been 60 terrorist plots, 49 of which were by American citizens. From a quick scan of the information, the terrorist attacks came from a range of countries, including the UK, Pakistan, Somalia, Iran, Lebanon, Trinidad, Afghanistan, Jordan, Nigeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Bangladesh. Notably, Iran, Somalia, and Yemen are covered by Trump’s executive order.
The Trump administration has been saying for a while now that the nations on the list were chosen from a bill passed in Obama’s tenure. However, the removal of Iraq indicates that some other standards were also in play. According to a senior US official, Iraq was removed after “intensive lobbying from the Iraqi government at the highest levels.” However, Iraq has continued good relations with the United States, unlike many of the other nations under the temporary ban. These nations were either designated as a safety concern by the Secretary of Homeland Security under Obama, or were removed from the visa waiver program in a bill passed in 2015.
Some people have remarked that although Pakistan seems to have the most incidents of terrorist training, that nation has not made the executive order. I believe there are two reasons for that: one, Pakistan supposedly works with the US so we must keep the image of working with them, and two, they are not on the visa waiver program. In the Osama bin Laden raid, Pakistan supposedly did not know about the US attack until it occurred. However, it’s ridiculous to think that Pakistan would have simply let unidentified aircraft into their nation. What is more likely is that Pakistan works with the US, and certain elements in their nation disagreed with that. So, both nations keep information shared to a minimum, and only use it for terrorism prevention purposes. Therefore, Pakistan likely provides the US with information concerning visa applicants, and since Pakistanis have to apply for a visa in a process that takes over 4 weeks, it’s no surprise that they did not need to be included in this ban. Their process likely already has extreme vetting procedures, but has been established a lot longer than the 6 nations on the travel ban now.
Obtaining a Visa
Under the new executive order, if you have a visa already, then the order does not apply to you. If you hold dual citizenship, the order does not apply to you. This new order only applies to those who do not hold a current visa to visit the United States. For example, my senior design professor is a US citizen in Lebanon. Even if Lebanon had been on the ban list, he would still be able to travel back to the United States, because he is a US citizen. On the other hand, my senior design TA holds a visa to be here, and he is similarly not affected by the travel ban. The only people affected are those whose travel visas have lapsed, or those who have not yet applied for visas. While technically this is not a change from the older executive order, the new order clarifies these points, which should be comforting to those in possession of a green card or current visa.
In summary, the new executive order is legal and may prevent terrorism attacks by adding a period to further improve visa approval standard operating procedures. However, the legality will still find itself in court, as Hawaii has already challenged the travel ban. It remains to be seen if a court finds it legal.
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