One month after federal judges blocked the President’s first immigration executive order, President Trump has issued a second order aimed at preventing the entry into the U.S. of foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries (down from seven countries banned in the first order).
While the main point of both executive orders remains the same – to exclude foreign nationals from specific countries from entering the U.S. – there are key differences between the first order and this second one.
Differences Between the Two Executive Orders
Most notably, this second immigration ban does not take effect immediately but instead will go live on March 16, 2017. The immediate effect of the first travel ban was one of the grounds on which it was challenged in the courts because foreign nationals and immigration enforcement officers alike were unprepared for how to handle the first ban.
Second, Iraq is removed from the list of banned countries. This is slightly confusing because Iraq remains on the list of countries that disqualify otherwise eligible foreign nationals from utilizing the visa waiver program, so this issue must still be clarified in order for travelers to be prepared for applying for admission into the United States.
The third major difference is that this order (thankfully) specifically clarifies that foreign nationals from the affected countries who currently hold valid visas to the U.S. will still be able to use those visas to travel. Additionally, lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and dual nationals will be able to travel, provided they present the correct travel documents. For example, a dual national of Iran and Canada should present his or her Canadian passport upon seeking admission into the United States. As another example, a lawful permanent resident from Syria must present his or her green card in order to be admitted into the United States.
There are also changes to the way refugees will be treated under this executive order, including removing preferences for religious minorities in the context of refugee application adjudication, as well as the assurance that refugees who have already been granted asylum will be allowed to enter the United States.
Questions Left Unanswered
While the administration has provided much more information about the scope and implementation of this second executive order, there are important questions that remain unanswered. For instance, will USCIS continue to adjudicate applications for immigration benefits filed on behalf of foreign nationals from one of the six countries? Will these applications be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny or longer processing times because of the ban? Will U.S. embassies cooperate with foreign nationals seeking visas and other immigration-related services?
These questions remain unanswered, leaving hundreds if not thousands of foreign nationals in limbo as they are left to wonder what will happen to their future immigration opportunities in the United States.
Reaction to the Second Executive Order
While this second executive order is not as bad as the first, it is still roundly criticized by foreign nationals and immigrant rights activists. These groups have pledged to continue to fight both the administration and the executive order, decrying its racial and religious overtones.
Additional Blog Posts
The Possible Impact of Sequestration for Employers and Immigrant Workers, ImmigRantings, April 22, 2013
More States Expected to Exert Control Regarding Illegal Immigration Problems, ImmigRantings, August 3, 2013