Trump Can Try to Rebrand It, but the New Refugee and Muslim Ban Is Still Illegal
By Avideh Moussavian, NILC policy attorney
MARCH 9, 2017
On January 27, President Trump tried to sell the country on a losing (and unconstitutional) idea: that banning vulnerable refugees and people from certain Muslim-majority countries was somehow a matter of national security.
Within hours of the time Trump signed his Muslim-ban executive order (EO), airports across the country were flooded with Americans who were standing against this shameful injustice and with refugees and Muslims arriving here—in some cases after having fled harrowing conditions in their home countries and enduring years of security screening and separation from loved ones. Americans streamed to airports to welcome these folks to the U.S.
Simultaneously, NILC and many of our partners in different jurisdictions across the country were dragging the president to court. In court after court, he lost—big. A key decision issued on February 9 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a temporary freeze on key provisions of the Jan. 27 executive order.
After abandoning any attempts to continue defending in court the flagrantly discriminatory first version of his refugee and Muslim ban, Trump issued a new EO on March 6 under the same title, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
The March 6 EO differs from the January 27 EO in some key ways:
- It has a phase-in period (which the Jan. 27 EO didn’t), so it doesn’t go into effect until March 16, at which time it revokes and replaces the original EO.
- It removes Iraq from the list of countries whose nationals are banned for 90 days from entering the U.S., shortening from seven to six the list of Muslim-majority countries whose nationals are banned. The six countries still affected are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
- It specifically exempts from the ban certain categories of nationals from the six banned countries, including lawful permanent residents (LPRs, or “green card”–holders); nonimmigrant visa–holders who are currently in the U.S. or who are seeking to enter the U.S. and who had a valid visa at 5 p.m. on January 27 or on March 16; people of dual nationality who travel to the U.S. on a passport issued by a country other than the six designated countries; and certain other categories of people.
- It no longer singles out Syrian refugees by subjecting them to an indefinite entry bar.
- It no longer provides that certain people will be given preferential treatment by creating an explicit exception for religious minorities.
But lots of key provisions are the same:
- It is still based on the same faulty premise that refugees—who endure the most extreme vetting process of anyone allowed entry into the U.S. and are among the world’s most vulnerable people—and Muslims, simply because of their faith, pose a threat to our security.
- It is still an attempt by Trump to fulfill his discriminatory and unconstitutional campaign promise to ban Muslims. It’s a promise he made repeatedly on the presidential campaign trail and has repeated in the weeks since he took office.
- Even with some limited exceptions, it still bans nationals from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.
- It still suspends the entire refugee program for 120 days, which effectively brings the program to a grinding halt for tens of thousands of refugees.
- It still drastically cuts the overall annual number of refugees the U.S. admits from 110,000 to 50,000.
At the end of the day, an unconstitutional idea isn’t like a failed casino or university you can try to rebrand by remodeling it or introducing the 2.0 version. We’re confident that this shameful EO will end up as another of Trump’s many failed ventures. The American public is not buying it, and neither are we.
More information about the March 6 executive order can be found at www.nilc.org/faq-exec-order-targeting-refugees-and-muslims/.