On January 27th, 2017 an executive order on national security and immigration was signed by President Donald Trump. Entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” the document states that the purpose of the executive order is to reform the visa-issuance policy and prevent radicalized “individuals with terrorist ties” from receiving U.S. visas.
The order appeals to the fears the reader with incendiary references to terrorist attacks like 9/11 and barbaric acts like so-called “honor killings.” However, the question remains, what does all this inflammatory rhetoric and the action of a blatant ban mean to non-terrorist nationals who desire to work and live in the U.S.?
The first persons referenced in the document who will be majorly affected by the Executive Order are foreign nationals from countries pursuant to section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12). The order deems that the entrance of immigrants and nonimmigrants from these countries would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States”.
The affected countries are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Upon the signing of the order, these persons will be banned for 90 days from entering into the United States. During this ban, the Department of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and the State Department will draft list of countries to be placed on a list of nations of “particular concern” which will be banned entry into the U.S. 90 days after the signing of the order.
Long term, the order would require a fingerprint entry-exit tracking system for all U.S. visitors and demand mandatory interviews of all persons seeking a nonimmigrant visa. The order also requires a list of all foreign-born persons in the U.S. who have been radicalized after entering the U.S. and engaged in acts of terrorism be made public. Syrian refugees will be blocked indefinitely from the date of signing and the total number of refugees from any nation allowed to enter the country in FY 2017 would be slashed to 50,000.
In his campaign, President Trump indicated that his policy would be to target predominantly Muslim countries. In a statement released on Facebook, President Trump said, “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.”
However, all of the countries listed on the first round of visa bans have a large Muslim majority. Other predominantly Muslim nations which could become countries of “particular concern” after the 90-day review include (along with the total number of Muslims and their percentage of the national population):
- Indonesia 204,847,000 (87.2%)
- Pakistan 178,097,000 (96.4%)
- Bangladesh 145,312,000 (90%)
- Turkey 74,660,000 (98.6%)
- Egypt 73,746,000 (90%)
- Algeria 34,780,000 (98.2%)
- Morocco 32,381,000 (99.9%)
- Saudi Arabia 30,770,375 (99.9%)
- Afghanistan 29,047,000 (99.8%)
- Uzbekistan 26,833,000 (96.5%)
- Niger 15,627,000 (98.3%
It has been noted that Trump failed to ban several Muslim countries in which he has economic ties. Among these are Saudi Arabia, home to several of the 9/11 attackers.
For U.S. green card holders, the situation remains unclear. Many are inquiring as to how this ban affects legal immigrants. Although during early hours of the order many Green Card holders were detained or denied entry amidst the confusion surrounding the implementation of the order, on January 30, 2017, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told a national news outlet that U.S. green card holders would be unaffected but could be subject to additional questioning at airports.
The order gives officials some leverage in blocking entry to green card holders stating,
“The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”
However, this clause has not prevented many legal residents from being detained or blocked entry in the nation’s airports. Reports from the ACLU have stated some individuals have been tricked into relinquishing their green cards. Others have been sent back and had their passports seized leaving them in limbo.
Banning over a billion people from obtaining U.S. visas could have a large impact on U.S. international relations, for multiple reasons.
- Requiring interviews and fingerprints of all visitors will create additional delays for U.S. companies engaged in recruiting talent globally.
- Many industries, particularly the tech industry, would suffer from the loss of diversity in their hiring pool. Such policies could have a far-reaching impact on the national and global economy.
- Banned countries may reciprocate with bans against American individuals and companies which could have a chilling effect on international business.
- America may lose its position as a leader in global civil rights.
- Moreover, the order may have the opposite impact than its purpose and serve as a tool for Islamic extremists. Banning nationalists from Muslim countries would be excellent fodder for their propaganda, and the ban may become a recruiting device for terrorist groups.
Since the order was issued, Iran has already banned U.S. citizens from entering the country. Wall Street reported a major sell off and is down nearly 224 points and is at its session low Monday closing at 122.65 points, which represents the biggest fall since October.
But we have not seen the worst yet for U.S. companies. It is anticipated that another Trump executive order may target work visas this week. The concern is that such an order may drastically impact U.S. tech companies forcing more American jobs to be moved internationally.