What’s the real story behind Donald Trump’s immigration ban and that list of seven countries? When his executive order went into effect over the weekend, chaos ensued. TSA agents didn’t know what to do. People were detained. Protests erupted. People were enraged by what they called Trump’s “Muslim ban.” Then came accusations that his list reflected a conflict of interest because none of the predominantly Muslim nations in which he does business are included in the order. So what’s up with that? Let’s take a look at the facts.
One story that has been making the rounds in recent days is that the seven nations included in Donald Trump’s ban are the exact same ones that were identified by Barack Obama as “countries of concern.” Is that true? Yes. In fact, Trump’s Executive Order does not specifically name the seven countries, which are Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen by the way. The EO refers to “countries of particular concern.” This is a reference to the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.
The Homeland Security website provides this explanation for a question relevant to this discussion.
“What are the new eligibility requirements for VWP travel?
Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the VWP:
- Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, or countries listed under specified designation lists (currently including Iran and Sudan) at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions).
- Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions).
These restrictions do not apply to VWP travelers whose presence in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen was to perform military service in the armed forces of a program country, or in order to carry out official duties as a full-time employee of the government of a program country.”
— BBC Newsbeat (@BBCNewsbeat) January 29, 2017
These places were identified by Homeland Security, not by Obama, as places about which they had some concerns related to our national security. In February 2016, they added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to the list.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s Executive Order on immigration, some have taken issue with the statement that Obama picked these seven “countries of concern,” saying that they were actually identified by Republicans who attached a rider to an Omnibus spending bill on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. This is true as well but doesn’t change the fact that it was signed into law by Obama. It was also contested by some but was never overturned.
There is much to debate about Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, but it is important, especially in times of high emotion, to remain cognizant of the facts and not assume that all of the statements made at such times are accurate. Yes, Donald Trump is restricting the movement of people from seven nations. Yes, they match those that were identified as being of concern under Obama. Yes, there are differences in what Obama did and what Trump is doing. It is also true that the ban is not forever, it is for 90 or 120 days (depending on whether you’re an immigrant or a refugee) unless you are coming from Syria. In that case, the ban is for an undetermined amount of time at this point. And it’s true that none of the predominantly Muslim nations in which Donald Trump does business are included in his order. So yes, let’s talk about what we think about Donald Trump’s Executive Order on immigration, but let’s do it with facts.
[Featured Image by Pool/Getty Images]