Trump Travel Ban Suspends Iran Visas for Now

March 6, 2017

On March 6, President Donald Trump issued a new executive order banning people from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from entering the United States for 90 days. The move comes about a month after a panel of federal judges blocked enforcement of his initial executive order. The original January order barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen — from entering the United States for 90 days. The new ban will go into effect on March 16 and does not include Iraq on the list of countries of concern. Current visa holders will not be affected and refugees that have already been granted asylum will be allowed to enter. The ban on all refugees is still set at 120 days, but Syrian refugees are no longer barred indefinitely. 

The following are excerpts from the order with remarks from Trump administration officials.

 

PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and to protect the Nation from terrorist activities by foreign nationals admitted to the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy and Purpose. (a) It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals. The screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) play a crucial role in detecting foreign nationals who may commit, aid, or support acts of terrorism and in preventing those individuals from entering the United States. It is therefore the policy of the United States to improve the screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the USRAP.

(b) On January 27, 2017, to implement this policy, I issued Executive Order 13769 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States).

(i) Iran. Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984 and continues to support various terrorist groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, and terrorist groups in Iraq. Iran has also been linked to support for al-Qa’ida and has permitted al-Qa’ida to transport funds and fighters through Iran to Syria and South Asia. Iran does not cooperate with the United States in counterterrorism efforts.

...

(f) In light of the conditions in these six countries, until the assessment of current screening and vetting procedures required by section 2 of this order is completed, the risk of erroneously permitting entry of a national of one of these countries who intends to commit terrorist acts or otherwise harm the national security of the United States is unacceptably high. Accordingly, while that assessment is ongoing, I am imposing a temporary pause on the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, subject to categorical exceptions and case-by-case waivers, as described in section 3 of this order.

Click here for the full text. 

 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

The executive order signed by the President earlier today, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, is a vital measure for strengthening our national security. It is the President’s solemn duty to protect the American people. And with this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe.

As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and re-assess the systems we rely upon to protect our country. While no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country.

To our allies and partners around the world: Please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends. The State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies and implement these temporary restrictions in an orderly manner. Our embassies and consulates around the world will play an important role in making sure that our nation is as secure as it can be.

And the State Department will implement the provisions in this order that allow for the admissions of refugees when it is determined they do not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.

Upon the President’s initial executive order issued on January the 27th, the State Department’s Consular Affairs and Diplomatic Security offices immediately undertook a review, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, to identify additional measures that would strengthen our vetting of those seeking entry to the United States from seven named countries. These early efforts were concentrated on Iraq. Iraq is an important ally in the fight to defeat ISIS, with their brave soldiers fighting in close coordination with America’s men and women in uniform. …

—March 6, 2017, in remarks to the press

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

As the President noted in his address to Congress, the majority of people convicted in our courts for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from abroad.  We also know that people seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program.  In fact, today more than 300 people who came here as refugees are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities.

Like every nation, the United States has the right to control who enters our country, and to keep out those who would do us harm.  This executive order protects the American people – as well as lawful permanent residents – by putting in place an enhanced screening and vetting process for visitors from six nations.  

Three of these nations are state sponsors of terrorism.  The other three have served as safe havens for terrorists – countries where the government has lost control of territory to terrorist groups like ISIL or Al Qaeda and its affiliates.  This increases the risk that people admitted here from these countries may belong to terrorist groups, or may have been radicalized by them.  

We cannot compromise our nation’s security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly – or when those governments actively support terrorism.  This executive order provides a needed pause, so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern. …  

—March 6, 2017, in remarks to the press

 

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly

The Executive Order signed today by President Trump will make America safer, and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system. We must undertake a rigorous review of our visa and refugee vetting programs to increase our confidence in the entry decisions we make for visitors and immigrants to the United States. We cannot risk the prospect of malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives.

The Executive Order signed today is prospective in nature—applying only to foreign nationals outside of the United States who do not have a valid visa. It is important to note that nothing in this executive order affects current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our country. If you have a current valid visa to travel, we welcome you. But unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake. …

—March 6, 2017, in remarks to the press

 

Congressional Reaction

Democrats
Republicans

House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

“This is the same ban, with the same purpose, driven by the same discrimination that weakens our fight against terror”

March 6, 2017, in a tweet

“The Trump Administration’s repackaging has done nothing to change the immoral, unconstitutional and dangerous goals of their Muslim and refugee ban.  This is the same ban, with the same purpose, driven by the same dangerous discrimination that weakens our ability to fight terror.

“The President’s conduct over the weekend emphasizes how little regard he has for reality.  As the leaked reports from Homeland Security exposed, the White House has desperately sought to invent an after-the-fact justification for its baldly prejudiced and unconstitutional Muslim and refugee ban.  Protecting the American people requires us to be strong and smart, not reckless and rash.

“The President claims he is strengthening our security, but his Administration’s dangerous and incompetent actions are making America less safe, not more.”

March 6, 2017, in a statement

 

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

“To be clear, this updated #MuslimBan makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited & un-American.”

March 6, 2017, in a tweet

 

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)

“I am concerned that the President continues to try to deliver on a campaign promise to create a ‘Muslim ban,’ even though members of both parties have condemned it. The travel ban announced today still discriminates against six Muslim-majority countries from which travelers, including refugees, do not pose a significant terrorist threat to the United States, as the Trump administration’s own Department of Homeland Security made clear in a recent memo. There is an especially stringent vetting process for refugees already in place. This new travel ban still makes us less safe by giving extremist groups a propaganda and recruiting tool. It still makes us less respected in the world by refusing to help our allies shoulder the burden of the refugee crisis. We should see this executive order for what it is: a decision based in fear, not facts, to discriminate against people on the basis of their nationality and how they pray.”

March 6, 2017, in a statement

 

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

“After a federal judge unequivocally halted President Trump’s first ban on Muslims and refugees, it is preposterous to see a recalcitrant White House willing to take yet another gamble to put fringe politics ahead of our national security and our Constitution. The underlying purpose of this executive order remains intact: Ban Muslims from entering our country. It remains a dangerous affront to our American values. Rather than improve our national security, this order increases recruitment tools for radical groups who seek to harm Americans.

“Make no mistake, turning away those fleeing horrific violence and persecution and discriminating against people based on nationality and religion is as un-American now as it was two months ago. Cosmetically scaling back the ban does not expunge its fundamental illegality either.

“With the lessons from the widespread chaos and national outrage from January fresh in our minds, I urge Congressional Republicans to learn from their mistakes and put country over party by swiftly standing up against this latest attempt to undermine the core values that built this country.”

March 6, 2017, in a statement

 

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL)

“No amount of relabeling will change the fact that President Trump’s travel ban is unconstitutional and un-American. Wasting taxpayer dollars and unnecessarily inflicting pain on innocent families isn’t going to change that. Trump’s executive order plays directly into our enemies’ hands and makes America less safe. Trump’s first travel ban was blocked by multiple federal courts, and his latest will no doubt face the same fate.”

March 6, 2017, in a statement

 

House Intel Ranking Member Adam Shiff (D-CA)

“New #TravelBan has same flaws – list of countries arbitrary, effect counter-productive, & real target is not security but faith. Here's why:”

March 6, 2017, in a tweet that also contained a statement

 

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)

“It’s still a Muslim Ban. And we’re still going to resist it. My statement on @realDonaldTrump’s not-so-new Muslim Ban:”

March 6, 2017, in a tweet that also contained a statement

"It's a Muslim ban,"  "It's a revised one. It's a lawyered up one. The man said he wanted a complete and total ban of Muslims. And then it gets struck down ... and then he comes back a few days later with something else. He is trying to restrict access to the United States because of their religion. The people that it does ban are banned because it's Muslim."

March 7, 2017, in an interview

 

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

“This revised executive order advances our shared goal of protecting the homeland. I commend the administration and Secretary Kelly in particular for their hard work on this measure to improve our vetting standards. We will continue to work with President Trump to keep our country safe.”

—March 6, 2017, in a statement

 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“I have always shared President Trump’s desire to protect our homeland. This Executive Order will achieve the goal of protecting our homeland and will, in my view, pass legal muster. I congratulate the Administration for modifying the original order to ensure that it is prospective in application, protective of those with valid visas and legal status, and exempts Iraqis, as five thousand Americans are currently fighting alongside them against ISIL.

I believe the new order will withstand legal challenges as it’s drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states. This Executive Order will help achieve President Trump’s goal of making us safer.”

March 6, 2017, in a statement

 

Sen. John McCain

#Iraq not included in today's executive order - Iraqis are our allies in the fight against #ISIL

March 6, 2017, in a statement

 

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

The original Executive Order “needed more vetting”

The new Executive Order "appears to be a wiser approach to reviewing how we scrutinize those traveling to the United States from war-torn countries."

And "should last only as long as it takes to complete the review"

March 7, 2017, according to press reports in an unknown context

 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

“The President’s new immigration executive order addresses some of the concerns I had with the original ban. For example, the new order now exempts green card and visa holders, permits Iraqi translators and others who assisted our military to enter our country on Special Immigration Visas, and eliminates the ill-conceived religious test that was included in the previous executive order. I will continue to analyze the impact of the executive order.”

-March 7, 2017, in a statement

 

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

“I am very encouraged by the interagency approach the administration has taken to develop and implement the revised executive order,”

“I also am pleased that Iraq, a critical partner in the fight against ISIS, has been removed from the countries subject to visa restrictions based on the commitments Secretary Tillerson has secured from the Iraqi government.”

“We all share a desire to protect the American people, and reviewing our nation’s screening and vetting procedures is an appropriate step,”

“Following a thorough review and implementation of necessary security enhancements, I am hopeful these programs will be reinstated.”

March 6, 2017, in a statement