January 31, 2017

Policy Memo: Why Trump’s Executive Order is Likely to be Permanent for Iranians

President Trump’s Executive Order banning entry for nationals of seven countries is likely to be made permanent for Iran and potentially other countries. This is why it is simply unacceptable to tolerate the ban or accede to fixes on the margins. If we do not overturn the ban in its entirety, it could be made a fact of life for Iranians, permanently dividing our community.
The Executive Order provides the President with the option to extend the ban indefinitely:
  • The initial ban on the seven countries (Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia) is for 90 days.
  • According to Section 3 of the Executive Order, for thirty days the Secretary of Homeland Security will conduct a review to “determine the information needed from any country” to ensure that travelers are not a security threat. Then, the Secretary of Homeland Security will submit to the President “a list of countries that do not provide adequate information.”
  • The Secretary of State will then “request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.”
  • After the 60 day notification period, and 90 days from the issuance of the Executive Order, the Secretary of Homeland Security will submit to the President “a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals from countries that do not provide the information requested…until compliance occurs.” Thus, any country that fails to comply with the U.S. by providing information as requested within a 60 day window would be subject to an indefinite or permanent ban on its nationals entering the United States.
Why the ban on Iranian nationals is highly likely to become an indefinite or permanent ban:
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister – Javad Zarif – has already indicated that Iran will not comply with U.S. demands to submit information:
      • Referring to the requests for information articulated in the Executive Order, Zarif stated “The decision of the Government of the United States incorporates certain requests that are illegal, illogical and contrary to international law. Considering the absence of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United Statesthose requests are not applicable to and cannot be accommodated by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” As a result, the Trump administration will determine that Iran is not responsive to the U.S. request and as such make the ban indefinite.
  • Further, Zarif pins the blame for the likely extension of the ban beyond 90 days on the United States, stating “Any abuse by the United States of this situation to prolong the discriminatory measures and cause any further inconvenience for Iranian nationals is not only illegal but against common sense.”
  • This is a major issue, particularly in the case of Iran, which has no formal diplomatic relations with the United States. Nationals of Iran seeking U.S. visas already must travel outside of the country in order to obtain them given the absence of U.S. consular services inside Iran.
Why this primarily affects the Iranian American community:
  • According to the State Department, 48.1 % of all visas issued to citizens of these 7 countries in 2015 went to Iranian nationals.
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