- spends the entire US refugee admissions system for 120 days, even though it was already one of the most rigorous vetting regimens in the world, taking 18 to 24 months and requiring interviews and background checks through multiple federal agencies. Trump has said he wants more strictures – but not described them.
- Suspends the Syrian refugee program indefinitely. The US accepted 12,486 Syrian refugees in 2016, compared with about 300,000 received by Germany the same year. Since the Syrian civil war began, Turkey has received about 2.7 million refugees, Lebanon 1 million refugees and Jordan 650,000.
- Bans entry from seven majority-Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – for 90 days. Possibly the vaguest of Trump’s orders, in practice this has barred even legal US residents, such as green card holders, from re-entry into the country. The order would let the Department of Homeland Security ban more countries at any time.
- Prioritizes refugee claims on the basis of religious persecution, so long as the applicant belongs to a religion that is a minority in their country of origin. This provision would allow the Trump White House to prioritize Christians from the Middle East over Muslims. In fiscal year 2016, the US accepted 37,521 Christian and 38,901 Muslim refugees. Since 2001, the US has accepted nearly 400,000 Christian refugees and 279,000 Muslim refugees.
- Lowered the total of 2017 refugees from anywhere to 50,000, down from 110,000. It has also ordered a review of states’ rights to accept or deny refugees; last year Mike Pence, then governor of Indiana, was slapped down by an appeals court when he tried to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state.
What are the immediate consequences?
- Confusion and despair at ports and airports as approved refugees, valid visa holders, non-US dual citizens and US legal residents are detained, barred from planes or ordered out of the US, while attorneys and authorities grapple. Immigration lawyers and employers have warned many people not to leave the US for fear they could be barred from re-entering. Nearly 500,000 people from the seven nations have received green cards in the past decade, meaning hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of being barred from the US or separated from their families.
- Universities, hospitals and tech companies are reeling from the order, which threatens or has already banned thousands of doctors, students, researchers, engineers and others. Nearly 200 Google employees, for instance, are affected, prompting the company to recall them to the US in coordination with lawyers. The orders will almost certainly affect how companies hire employees and commit to trade deals.
- Refugees persecuted for their sexual orientation or suffering from medical crises are in limbo with the other people denied entry, because the order makes no exception besides for minority religion applicants.
- So far, the vagueness of the orders appears to leave great authority in the hands of local law enforcement at ports and borders, creating chaos and arbitrary detentions and questionings. For months, immigration lawyers warned that trying to implement a ban would create a swamp of bureaucracy, lawsuits and possible civil rights violations.
How have Americans reacted?
- Two Iraqis with valid visas, detained at a New York airport, filed suit against the government, alleging that it violates the constitution’s right to due process. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and American Civil Liberties Union have also announced their intentions to sue, claiming the ban discriminates against religion through a veil of legalese.
- Democrats and civil rights attorneys have excoriated the order, with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer saying it contradicts the ideals enshrined in American culture and on the Statue of Liberty.
- Refugee advocates have noted that the order bars men and women who risked their lives to assist the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom were promised resettlement assistance and threatened with death at home.
- Princeton University and other schools have warned students not to leave the country, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has criticized the order. Tech companies rely heavily on visa programs to recruit skilled workers.