What's in Trump's executive order on immigration

People participating in a prayer and rally against President Donald Trump's immigration policies, on Jan 27, 2017, in New York City.
People participating in a prayer and rally against President Donald Trump's immigration policies, on Jan 27, 2017, in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

A look at US President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and what it does and does not do.

WHO IS AFFECTED?

• The order signed last Friday bars the entry of foreign nationals from certain countries for 90 days. While no countries are specifically named in the order, it refers to a statute that would apply to seven Muslim-majority nations: Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq. The order also affects permanent residents of the US who hold green cards. At a briefing for reporters on Saturday, White House officials said those who may have been travelling overseas on vacation or for work would need case-by-case waivers to return.

The order also affects individuals of those seven countries who hold dual citizenship with another country, for instance, those who hold both Iraqi and Canadian citizenships. Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security said it would continue to enforce the President's executive order, even while complying with judicial decisions on Saturday - such as those issued in Brooklyn, New York and Alexandria, Virginia - temporarily blocking parts of the order. The nationwide ruling by a judge in Brooklyn barred refugees and visa holders already legally in the US from being turned back. The separate judicial order in Alexandria forbids the government from removing about 60 legal permanent residents of the United States being detained at Dulles International Airport.

• The executive order also calls for the temporary halt of all refugee admissions for four months so the government can study the process and determine if additional checks are necessary, although there will be case-by-case exceptions.

• The order implements a blanket ban on all Syrian refugees until "sufficient changes" have been made to the refugee programme, without giving more details. After the suspension is lifted, the government will give priority to applicants who are suffering religion-based prosecution, but only if they are minorities in their country. Once refugee admissions resume, fewer will be allowed in.

The 2017 cap was set at 50,000 people, compared with 85,000 designated by President Barack Obama for 2016. In a nod to certain states and cities that have objected to refugee resettlement, the order also seeks to give state and local jurisdictions a role in deciding whether or not to allow people to live there.

WHO IS NOT AFFECTED?

Anyone with US citizenship, whether that person is natural-born or naturalised. There is also an exception for certain types of visas, including for diplomats, people travelling to the United Nations in New York and others involved in international organisations.

 

WHY WAS THE ORDER ISSUED?

It cited the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks, saying: "The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.

"Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinising the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans."

However, most of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, were from Saudi Arabia.

The rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. None of those countries is on Mr Trump's visa ban list.

REUTERS, NYTIMES, THE ATLANTIC

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'What's in Trump's executive order on immigration'. Print Edition | Subscribe