In his latest executive order, President Donald Trump has ordered a ban on nationals from seven Muslim-dominated countries for at least three months from the day of signing the order. Most of these countries had been mentioned as “countries of concern” with regards to their visas. Although the order does not mention the countries, a White House official said that the order will see people from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen prohibited from entering the country. The order, however, permanently prohibits war refugees from entering the country. The order was signed by the president on Friday Jan. 27, 2016 at the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
Also, as a result of the president’s order, all refugees have been banned from entering the United States for the next four months. “The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days,” read part of Section 5 (a) of the Order.
The news comes as the nation reflects on numerous occasions in which nationals from Muslim-majority countries have been charged with terrorism related crimes since the September 11, 2001 attacks. It had been among the president’s campaign slogan to ban refugees from entering the United States once he assumed office. Trump said during most of his campaigns that Muslims have a “proven” history of terrorist attacks either on the United States or allied nations.
Citing “security threats,” the order will see the Secretary of State alongside the Department of the Homeland Security review the USRAP terms and conditions to ensure that the refugees who are allowed into the country do not pose any security threat. The order has also issued restrictions on the maximum number of refugees that can enter the country each year to 50,000.
Knowing that this will obviously raise questions, Republicans have been quick to defend the president’s actions. Comparison of the 50,000 refugees cap has been made to that of the former President Obama, who in 2016 allowed in many more refugees. To this effect, experts have extended the comparison back before the Obama administration and as it is, according to the experts, President Trump’s cap is based on the average of other presidents’ refugee allowance into the country.
Data obtained from the Migration Policy Institute shows that the United States admitted less than 50,000 refugees in 2003, 2006 and 2007. On the other hand, President Obama’s administration allowed in about 70,000 refugees in 2015, according to data from Migration Policy Institute. Based on this, the general argument is that the president has acted according to the average of refugee intakes as evidenced by historical data.
To this effect, Republicans have commented that the president aims at improving security within the country. The 90 day ban, however, has exceptions. The order reads in part, “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.” According to interpreters, this means that the secretaries can allow in refugees based on individual circumstances, even during the three month period stipulated in the ban.
However, the action to ban refugees has attracted criticism. “In our view, these actions taken by Trump and this administration have nothing to do with national security,” said Ayoub, legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee “They’re based off Islamophobia, they’re based off of xenophobia, and we cannot allow that to continue.” Ayoub concludes that President Trump’s action of banning individual from Muslim-majority countries is tantamount to a “Muslim Ban”. As it stands, there are divided opinions on the ban, but will the ban improve the situation in the United States?