Trump Administration Unveils Broader, Indefinite Travel Ban

Trump Administration Unveils Broader, Indefinite Travel Ban

The US has announced a series of new travel restrictions on citizens of eight countries—Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen—in accordance with an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that replaces the controversial, temporary “travel ban” enacted earlier this year. The restrictions, which will be phased in starting next month, will vary by country: North Koreans and Syrians will be banned from coming to the U.S. as immigrants or non-immigrants, for example, while immigration is suspended from Chad, Iran, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, but some non-immigrant travel will be allowed, while the restrictions on Venezuela apply only to certain government officials there. Those who are allowed in from countries like Iran and Somalia will be subject to enhanced security vetting.

Unlike the original travel ban issued in March, which was to apply for a fixed period of 90 days, the new ban has no set end date, and the administration has said the lifting of these restrictions will be conditional on these countries adopting US-approved procedures for vetting travelers. The previous ban also suspended the admission of refugees; this order does not address refugees, but a forthcoming order is expected to announce a new, lower cap on the number of refugees the US will admit in the coming year.

Consular officers will have discretion to waive the restrictions on a case-by-case basis, if individuals can prove that it would cause them undue hardship to be denied admission to the US and are not a security threat. The previous ban had been blocked in court until the Supreme Court ruled that it could be implemented in part, with exceptions for foreign nationals who had a “bona fide relationship” with a US person or entity.

US permanent residents are not affected by the ban, and nationals of the affected countries with dual citizenship in another, unaffected country, can still travel to the US on their second passport. Those who already have visas to travel to the US will not have those visas rescinded, but will not be able to renew those visas once they expire. That means students or temporary workers from these countries will not be able to remain in the US in the long term.

It is unclear whether or to what extent the court’s “bona fide relationship” rule will apply to the new ban, or what legal challenges it may yet face. Because the new ban is more specific and not exclusive to Muslim-majority countries, it is less vulnerable to the legal arguments opponents brought against the previous ban, though these opponents are similarly critical of the new version. In response to the new ban, the high court canceled its scheduled hearing on the previous ban and now appear likely to declare the case moot. The justices have asked attorneys for the government and the challengers to submit briefs by October 5 addressing “whether, or to what extent, the proclamation” moots the existing case.