Understanding Trump’s Muslim Bans

Understanding Trumps Muslim Bans

Last updated SEPTEMBER 11, 2018

The Muslim bans are a series of discriminatory executive orders and proclamations issued by the Trump administration. President Trump signed the first version, Muslim Ban 1.0, on Jan. 27, 2017, and it became effective that day. Within a day, thousands of people across the country rushed to airports in protest. Significant portions of the ban, as well as later versions of it, were immediately blocked by federal courts, which found each iteration to be blatantly anti-Muslim, unconstitutional, and an abuse of the president’s power. While significant sectors of the American public agree, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion issued on June 26, 2018, unfortunately allowed the third iteration of the ban to remain in place permanently. Because of the devastating impact of this decision, which is separating American families and endangering vulnerable populations, we continue to fight the Muslim bans in our courtrooms, Congress, and our communities.


Despite intense opposition and criticism from the public, lawmakers, and our federal courts, the Trump administration has also pushed forward other discriminatory policies that share the same goal as the Muslim bans and target Muslims and immigrant communities of color.

Extreme Vetting (or the Backdoor Muslim Ban). On Mar. 15, 2017, the U.S. secretary of state called for enhanced screening of nationals of the six countries included in Muslim Ban 2.0. On May 23, 2017, the Office of Management and Budget approved discretionary use of “extreme vetting” questions, including inquiries into social media accounts and extensive biographical and travel information from the last 15 years. Impacts of the policy include a dramatic decline in visa applications, further delays in visa issuance to nationals of Muslim-majority countries targeted by the Muslim Bans, and discriminatory practices while issuing visas.

Ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan and Limiting It for Syrians, Yemenis, and Somalis. On Sep. 19, 2017, a few days before Sudan was removed from the list of banned countries under Muslim Ban 3.0, the Trump administration announced an end to TPS for Sudan, effective Nov. 2, 2018. Sudanese TPS- holders may be forced to return to a country that is still unstable. Since that announcement, TPS was extended for Syrians (on Jan. 31, 2018), Yemenis (on July 5, 2018), and Somalis (on July 19, 2018), but only for those who had already applied for the program, denying protection to anyone from those countries who arrived more recently, despite the fact that they fled the same dangerous conditions.

Slashing Legal Immigration and Cutting Diversity in Our Immigration System. On Feb. 7, 2017, Senators Cotton (R-AK) and Purdue (R-GA) introduced a bill that would cut the availability of green cards by more than half and end our family-based immigration system. If passed, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, would cut current levels of legal immigration by over 50 percent, and eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which provides opportunities for countries that send few immigrants — often those with a majority of Muslim and/or Black populations — to apply for a green card. These anti-family, anti-Black proposals are also actively promoted by the White House.

Slashing Annual Refugee Admissions. On Sep. 27, 2017, the Trump administration drastically lowered the annual refugee admission cap from 110,000 to 45,000, the lowest cap since 1980; Muslim Ban 4.0 specifically targets countries that account for approximately 80 percent of all Muslim refugees resettled in the U.S. in the past two years. In addition, refugees are being processed at such a slow rate that the program is currently on track to resettle fewer than 50 percent of the new annual cap – reflecting how this administration views the annual cap as a ceiling rather than as a target goal to meet — and effectively reducing the admission of refugees to a mere trickle. The administration is expected to drastically lower the annual cap even further; there are reports that, for FY 2019, it may be reduced to as few as 25,00 refugees.

To download this fact sheet as a PDF, which also includes a table that provides more detailed information, click on the PDF icon, above.

The information provided in this document is a basic summary only and does not constitute legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. For legal advice, please contact an attorney. For more information regarding the Muslim bans, please contact Subha Varadarajan, Muslim Ban Legal and Outreach Fellow, at [email protected]. No Muslim Ban Ever is a project of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, CAIR San Francisco Bay Area, MPower Change, and the National Immigration Law Center. (Prior to this Sep. 11, 2018, edition, this fact sheet was titled “Understanding the Muslim Bans.”)