For 2.5 years, the Muslim Ban has succeeded in separating American families and making the country less inclusive. Thanks to an amendment from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 requires the Trump administration to provide a detailed report every 90 days until September 30, 2019 regarding the implementation of the ban. Below are some of the most relevant findings of the first report, which was issued in June. New data is due to be reported again this month.
While the ban is no longer being implemented in front of TV cameras at airports across the country, the data shows that its impact is still extensive – particularly on Iranian nationals. Between December 8, 2017 and March 31, 2019, there were only 1,607 nonimmigrant visas issued to Iranian nationals compared to 18,571 denials under the ban.1 During that same period, 227 immigrant visas were issued to Iranian nationals contrasted to 9,819 denials due to the ban.2
Waivers Remain Low & Visa Refusals Remain High
An alien subject to the Muslim Ban may apply for a waiver but the burden of proof is on the individual to establish that they are eligible for a visa and a waiver. There is no separate application for a waiver — the evidence presented during the consular interview process is what is considered during the waiver determination. Consular officers have wide discretion to make a waiver determination based on three criteria:
- (A) denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship;
- (B) entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States; and
- (C) entry would be in the national interest.
Based on the data provided, the waiver process continues to be a sham. Waivers are issued irregularly and in such small numbers seemingly to uphold appearances that this is not a blanket ban fulfilling a bigoted campaign promise.
- The overall waiver rate for all impacted nationalities as of March 31, 2019 is just 5.1%, according to calculations from the State Department.3
- Between December 8, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2018, there were 413 waivers to Iranian nationals resulting in 269 visa issuances (immigrant & nonimmigrant).4 According to the latest data, which adds in additional details through the first three months of 2019, 279 nonimmigrant visas and 161 immigrant visa had been issued to Iranian nationals, for a total of 440 waivers dating back to December 8, 2017.5
- Contrast those paltry waiver numbers to the 28,390 immigrant Iranian visas refused, and the totals continue to be staggering. For every 64 Iranian nationals subject to the ban who have failed to secure a visa, only one is lucky enough to secure a waiver.
- Many spouses continue to be kept apart as a result of Trump’s ban, a particularly cruel dynamic where each is forced to put their love and lives on hold. Through March 2019, there were only 19 approvals for spousal visas (CR1/IR1) issued to Iranian nationals contrasted to 644 denials.6 That is approximately a 2.9% approval rate for Iranian nationals married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- Cumulatively, the number of Iranian nationals not subject to the ban who were issued visas over the lifetime of PP 9645 was 2,792, with 125 issuances in February and March. The majority of these were students on F1 or F2 visas. While the approval rate is higher than those subject to the ban, there were still 3,032 Iranian nationals refused dating back to December 8, 2017.7
Muslim Ban Deters Visa Applicants
Without a doubt, a major goal of the Trump administration appears to be to deter individuals from Muslim-majority nations from applying for visas to the United States, which fits the “white nationalist” goals attributed to the President and his allies. Over the course of the ban, the data indicates that far fewer individuals from nations subject to the ban are now applying for visas.
- In the first three months of 2018, an average of 4,311 Iranian nationals applied for nonimmigrant visas subject to the Muslim ban per month. However, in the first three months of 2019, the average fell to just 558 per month.8
- The average application rate for B1/B2 visitor visas to the U.S. from countries impacted by the Muslim Ban have fallen over the last year:
- 3,397 per month for the first six months of 2018;
- 1,124 per month for the last six months of 2018;
- 1,068 per month for the first three months of 2019.9
Iranians Still Most Impacted Group, Discriminatory Intent Not in Doubt
Iranians continue to be the most-heavily impacted group by the ban, accounting for 23,495 out of 36,783 nonimmigrant visa applicants subject to the ban and 10,441 out of 23,492 immigrant visa applicants dating back to December 8, 2017. Cumulatively, that is 33,936/69,275 visa applicants subject to the ban. To put it another way, nearly half of all those impacted by the ban are Iranian nationals.
While two non-Muslim countries were added to the list of targets of Presidential Proclamation 9645, Venezuela and North Korea, these appear to have been added solely to make the argument that it is not a “Muslim ban.” Zero Venezuelans have been subject to the proclamation, while only 79 North Koreans have attempted to apply for a visa, with 57 North Korean nationals being approved. Contrast the lack of impact of these non-Muslim majority nations to the tens of thousands subject to the ban from Muslim-majority nations. This remains a Muslim ban, as envisioned and in practice.
1 See Table II (a), https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf
2 See Table II (c), https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf.
3 Administration calculation. See Page 3, https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf.
4 See State Department Correspondence from Feb. 22, Table 1F & 1G, https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/State%20Dept%20Response%20to%20Oct%20Muslim%20Ban%20Letter.pdf.
5 Table III (a) & Table III (b), https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf.
6 See Table II (c), https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf.
7 See Table II (b), https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf.
8 See Table I (b), https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf.
9 See Table I (a), https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Van_Hollen_Proclamation_9645.pdf.