If you dig deep enough in understanding the Travel Ban, all you’ll find is spurious connections and shoulder shrug emojis.
From the outside observer, a Donald Trump White House looks to be a place that is seeded in chaos and uncertainty. It’s only natural that we would feel the same way about the policies coming from the administration as well. The many iterations of President Trump’s infamous Travel Ban is no different.
With the remnants of the Trump administration’s revised Travel Ban ending in a few weeks – their 120-day refugee ban comes to an end in October – last weekend President Donald Trump unveiled details on his new Travel Ban. Expected to be enacted on October 18th, President Trump’s new Travel Ban would include many of the countries that were in its original iterations along with a few additional ones. While it would be easy to just dismiss President Trump’s Travel Ban as policy being out of touch with what makes America great, but reality, there had to be some sort of reasoning behind the decisions that make up the administration’s new Travel Ban.
So we decided to take a deep-dive into President Trump’s Travel Ban to better understand its reasons.
Why Are These Countries on President Trump’s Travel Ban List?
The countries that are included in President Trump’s new Travel Ban are:
The countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are still on the list. Considering the original intent of the Travel Ban was to stop terrorists from coming to the US, having these countries still on the Travel Ban list follows the Trump administration’s logic of fighting “radical Islamic terror” through limiting immigration practices; even if barring these countries do little to nothing in stopping terrorist attacks on US soil.
One of the newest additions to the Travel Ban looks to be Chad, replacing Sudan, who is now off the ban list. Which raises a lot of questions like: how does a country get on the Travel Ban list? or how a country gets off the Travel Ban list? Based on a few President Trump interviews, it looks like he doesn’t know why Chad was replaced with Sudan either.
President Trump on why Sudan was removed from the travel ban pic.twitter.com/ipEAS2F5XP
— Yeganeh Torbati (@yjtorbati) September 27, 2017
Honestly from combing through interviews and White House press releases on the new Travel Ban, there’s little to no information on why Sudan was taken off of the Travel Ban list and Chad was added. Based on this Intercept article though, it’s looking more-and-more likely that lobbying efforts from United Arab Emirates (UAE) might have been a huge factor in getting Sudan off the Travel Ban list. This would make sense considering Sudan has started to take on a bigger role in the Saudi/UAE-led – with major US backing – Yemeni Civil War.
Why the addition of Chad though on the Travel Ban list?
The biggest change from the current list of countries compared to the list of the original Travel Ban countries is that the Trump administration has added two non-Muslim majority countries to the list: Venezuela and North Korea. While US relations with both countries have deteriorated in the past few months – North Korea due to their nuclear weapons testing and Venezuela becoming a dictatorship – it’s still surprising that those two countries would be included on the ban list. Even if you were to consider the administration’s most loosest definition of suspected terrorist countries, neither North Korea nor Venezuela would fit that mold.
Many legal experts have questioned whether the addition of Venezuela and North Korea to the ban list is actually a legal maneuver by the Trump administration to try and make the case that their Travel Ban isn’t a “Muslim Ban.” By having two non-Muslim majority countries on the ban list, the administration can then defend the law in allegations that it unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslim immigrants coming into the US. Groups that oppose the Trump administration’s Travel Ban, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), still insist that President Trump’s Travel Ban is still a ban on Muslims. As the arguments regarding President Trump’s Travel Ban are being rescheduled for the Supreme Court’s fall session, whether the Trump administration can successfully prove that the immigration order isn’t discriminatory because the addition of North Korea and Venezuela, is still up in the air.
What’s the Reasoning Behind Different Countries on the Travel Ban List Having Different Immigration Standards?
Unlike President Trump’s original Travel Ban, the administration’s new immigration order doesn’t treat all countries on the ban list the same. Countries like North Korea and Syria have the strictest immigration standards put on them – with immigrants and nonimmigrants barred from entering the US – while a country like Venezuela just puts limits on travel from government officials (and their close associates). Here’s how that breaks down:
- Venezuela: restricts travel for Venezuelan government officials (along with their families and close confidants)
Iran: immigrants and nonimmigrants are restricted from coming into the US, unless they have a valid student or visitor Visas
Somalia: all immigration from the country is suspended, but nonimmigrants are still allowed in the US, however will face “enhanced screening and vetting”
Chad, Yemen, and Libya: immigration from these countries will be completely suspended, along with some nonimmigrant business and tourist visas
North Korea and Syria: both immigrants and nonimmigrants are prohibited from entering the US
One of the major reasons that this new Travel Ban even exists is because many of the provisions of the revised Travel Ban that President Donald Trump originally introduced had ended. The orders within the revised Travel Ban were initially good for only 90-days (with a 120-day ban on refugees). However, the Trump administration’s new Travel Ban has no expiration date when it comes to its provisions. What that means is the travel restrictions in place with their respective countries would be indefinite, unless a new executive order would be in place to change it!
In many ways, President Trump’s new Travel Ban is different from its past iterations in that it casts a wider net. While it primarily does the same things as its past iterations – tries to bar immigration from “terrorist prone nations” – it also expands in punishing what the Trump administration believes are bad actors (ie North Korea and Venezuela). The Trump administration has always tried to justify the Travel Ban’s existence with spurious facts; yet with this iteration however, this Travel Ban could become permanent. Considering the Travel Ban’s effectiveness has always been in dispute, the real question has always been why it even exists?
The only real answer we can come up to that question is:
(Photo Credit: Pixabay.com, Google Images)