Trump Tries Again: March 6 Executive Order Banning Travel From Certain Countries

The new travel ban is more narrow in scope and provides exceptions, but it will likely still face legal challenges.

On March 6, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order (EO), "Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States," which will soon ban foreign travel into the U.S. from six nations and suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for a limited period of time.

The previous travel ban, EO 13769 (signed on January 27, 2017), sparked controversy for causing chaos at U.S. airports and led to a number of federal court cases challenging whether it discriminated against Muslim travelers. The previous version of the travel ban was halted by a federal judge on February 3, 2017, which led President Trump and his advisers to craft this "Travel Ban Version 2.0," revoking the January 27th EO in its entirety.

The new EO acknowledges those U.S. visa holders who were thrown into turmoil in late January/early February by having their visas cancelled by the U.S. Department of State. These individuals will be entitled to receive a special travel document allowing them to travel to the United States.

Although the new travel ban is more narrow in scope, it will likely also face numerous legal challenges.

Here is what will go into effect at midnight on March 16, 2017 (barring any future court orders):

1. A suspension of U.S. travel for citizens om Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Libya who did not have a valid U.S. visa as of 5:00 PM on January 27, 2017 and do not have a valid visa as of March 6, 2017 for a period of 90 days.

  • The new travel ban provides exceptions for lawful permanent residents ("LPRs" or green card holders), dual nationals (those holding passports from two countries, so long as they do not travel using a passport from one of the six banned countries), diplomatic visa holders, those in approved asylee or refugee status, or those traveling with an advance parole document.
  • It excludes Iraq from the 90-day travel ban. (Iraq was included in the January 27th travel ban.) The new executive order cites collaboration between the U.S. and Iraq governments and military forces and Iraq's current efforts to oust terrorist groups such as ISIS as reasons for lifting this restriction. However, the order does single out Iraqi citizens for "thorough review" regarding terrorist ties or public safety concerns.
  • It authorizes the U.S. Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to recommend additional countries for inclusion at a later date.
  • It provides for waivers to be granted on a case-by-case basis, offering examples such as previous U.S. admissions for continuous work or study, significant U.S. ties, significant business or professional obligations, undue hardship to U.S. family members, emergency circumstances such as medical needs, employees of US government or an international organization, Canadian visa applications, and government-sponsored exchange visitors.

2. A suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for a period of 120 days.

  • The executive order allows for exceptions to USRAP admission to the U.S. on a "case-by-case basis."
  • The order makes no mention of "religious minorities" being given preferential treatment in refugee admissions. (The January 27th EO offered an exception for those claiming refugee status due to persecution based upon religion.)
  • It no longer singles out Syria for an indefinite refugee suspension as the January 27th EO did.
  • The annual limit on U.S. refugee arrivals is capped at 50,000 for Fiscal Year 2017.

3. Calls for the implementation of new vetting standards for all U.S. immigration categories, giving states a voice in refugee resettlement, rescinding the waiver of admissibility for terrorist activities, and mandating a full review of visa reciprocity.

4. Orders the immediate suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program (under which certain repeat travelers need not appear in person for a meeting with a U.S. consular official before being approved for a visa) and the expansion of the Consular Fellows Program (allowing for hires of consular employees who are not on a long-term, career Foreign Service track).

5. Mandates data collection regarding the number of foreign nationals charged with, convicted of, or deported for terrorism-related offenses, the number of "radicalized" foreign nationals in the U.S., and the number of "honor killings" perpetrated in the United States.