On September 24, 2017, President Trump released a presidential proclamation with an extended and more detailed version of the travel ban that his administration has been constructing for months. This new version follows as a result of the worldwide review the president requested in March as part of Executive Order (E.O.) 13780, which resulted in an in-depth evaluation of nearly 200 countries “with respect to their identity-management and information-sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices”, as well as whether or not they “have a significant terrorist presence within their territory”. Per the outcome of this review along with advice from the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, as well as the Attorney General, President Trump decided that there are a small number of countries that do not meet the criteria, and may therefore pose a risk to “the security and interests of the United States and its people”. With that in mind, the president has imposed travel restrictions on individuals from the following countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Additional restrictions have been placed on Iraq and Somalia, albeit to a lesser extent than the aforementioned countries.
As previously mentioned, this new order is far more comprehensive than the administration’s original travel ban, which was released without warning on January 27, 2017, causing chaos at airports across the country and sparking protests against the ban’s controversial nature. While the original ban only targeted individuals from predominantly Muslim countries, North Korea, Venezuela, and Chad have now been added to the list, while restrictions on travel from Sudan have been dropped. Opponents of the Trump administration nicknamed the original order the “Muslim ban”, following in part from Trump’s comments on the campaign trail when he called for a ban on travel for all Muslims to the United States in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015. Multiple legal battles ensued questioning the constitutionality of the so-called Muslim ban, resulting in its nullification by multiple circuit and district courts. A revised version of the ban eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which allowed the ban to take partial effect in June and agreed to hear further arguments in October. However, the Supreme Court abruptly cancelled these oral arguments on September 25th, shortly after the newer, broader ban was released.
Although the new ban is country-specific, for the most part it restricts entry from both immigrants and non-immigrants, including those on business or tourist visas. Valid student and exchange visitor visas will not be affected. The administration specifically seeks to restrict travel from nationals with immigrant visas since, should national security issues arise, they are more difficult to remove from the country once they become lawful permanent residents. According to the proclamation, this “heightens the costs and dangers of errors associated with admitting such individuals”. Any immigrant or nonimmigrant in the United States, or those that have or qualify for a visa before the applicable effective date will not affected. Waivers may be granted on a case-by-case basis, but only if the individual meets certain conditions and requirements that will be determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State. Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security may at any time, after consulting with the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Director of National Intelligence, decide to add or remove some or all restrictions for a given country, based on whether or not they are in compliance with the standards outlined in the proclamation.