Update on Trump’s Ban (February 1, 2017)
February 4 update: A U.S. judge has temporarily blocked the Trump Administration from implementing the travel ban. See here for details.
I wanted to share some of the latest updates and analysis in the battle to stop Trump’s immigration ban.
- Democratic lawmakers overwhelmingly support repeal of ban: First, some very positive news: legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress to repeal the ban and almost every single Democrat in the House and Senate has signed onto those bills and pressed for Congress to pass them swiftly. NIAC Action members have made nearly four thousand calls and sent almost thirty-thousand emails urging for the ban to be repealed. They are organizing actions across the country to press remaining lawmakers to get on board. You can sign up to get involved here.
- Green card holders: It appears that green card holders have now been made fully exempt from the ban according to Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer. Originally, green card holders were restricted. Then, after outcry, the Department of Homeland Security announced green card holders would be allowed in but subject to secondary review. Now, if what Spicer says is true, green card holders will automatically be granted entry. Until this is confirmed we still advise caution, but this is a hopeful sign.
- Frequently asked questions: We have compiled an FAQ to answer all of the questions we are hearing from the Iranian-American community. There are still many unknowns. For instance, the Trump administration appears to have backed down on whether the ban will prevent people who are dual nationals of a restricted country and a non-restricted country (e.g. a dual Iranian-Canadian national), according to a recent Customs and Border Patrol post. However, it is still not clear if visas will be issued for such individuals and if existing visas for dual nationals will be revoked – two internal State Department memos indicate this may still be the case. One of those memos also suggests that all visas from the restricted countries would be revoked, but we have received indications that this will only be for visa holders who are outside of the U.S. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has contradicted itself on numerous issues. But what we do have answers to are all included in our FAQ and we hope you find it useful.
- Trump’s motives for the Muslim ban: A disturbing set of comments have circulated that are attributed to a top Trump administration official indicating that their aim is indeed to target people based on religion, with the aim of reducing the Muslim population inside of the United States. According to the Trump White House’s favored news outlet – Breitbart – a White House official told reporters that Trump’s policy is based on the fact that “the situation [of large Islamic populations] that exists today in parts of France, in parts of Germany, in Belgium, etcetera, is not a situation we want replicated inside the United States.” If you look at how the Trump ban is being implemented, it bears out this logic. People from the list of seven Muslim-majority countries are no longer being granted visas or allowed to enter the U.S. Meanwhile, visa holders in the U.S. have had their permanent resident applications suspended. As their visas begin to expire, those people will leave the country. There is a clear pattern to reduce the Muslim population in the United States – starting with Iranians.
- H.R.158 visa waiver discrimination: Reports have surfaced over the past several days indicating how closely the battle over H.R.158 visa discrimination and the Trump ban are linked. We now know that staff from the House Republican Judiciary Committee secretly helped the Trump administration write the executive order. This is the same staff that demanded that Iran be included in H.R.158 and that dual nationals should be targeted. Make no mistake, there are some very motivated people who know exactly what they are doing to target us right now.
- Global Entry Program revocations: We have received numerous reports of Iranian green card holders having their Global Entry Program membership revoked. We have not heard of any cases of U.S. citizens having their membership revoked – please contact us if this has happened to you. If these reports indicate a broader policy, it feeds into Trump’s motive for a ban – a larger effort to make Iranian-Americans second class citizens.
- Flynn puts Iran “on notice”: We are extremely concerned about Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s unusual appearance at today’s White House press briefing in which he issued a cryptic threat aimed at Iran. We are equally concerned with recent actions by Iran that also seem intended to provoke and that this could lead to a significant escalation. Our full statement is here.
Trita Parsi, PhD