Trump's Travel Ban: What It Means and What's Next - NBC Southern California
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's first year as president

Trump's Travel Ban: What It Means and What's Next

President Trump denies the ban singles out Muslims, but critics disagree

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    (Published Monday, Jan. 30, 2017)

    President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday temporarily barring visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries and refugees worldwide. The order sparked confusion at airports, protests around the country and denunciations from leaders around the world, leading the Trump administration to clarify its meaning. Now, the order will face scrutiny in federal courts.

    Here's what we know about it so far:

    Who is barred from entry to the U.S.?
    Trump's executive order temporarily suspends travel to the United States by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. The countries are: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The State Department is no longer offering visas to citizens of those nations, unless they are also citizens in the United Kingdom.

    The order includes a four-month suspension of America's refugee program. The suspension is intended to provide time to review how refugees are vetted before they are allowed to resettle in the United States, according to the Trump administration.

    What is the status of green card holders and dual citizens?
    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement Sunday declaring that residency would be a "dispositive factor in our case-by-case determination." That means citizens of the seven target countries who hold permanent U.S. residency "green cards" will not be barred from re-entering the U.S., as officials had previously said.

    Officials also clarified to The Associated Press Sunday that dual citizens who are nationals of one of the seven target countries and a country that is not on the list will be subject to additional security screenings, but will likely be allowed through.

    The clarifications came after green card holders were detained in airports on Saturday when the executive order was applied to them too.

    Trump Immigration Order Triggers Protests Across USTrump Immigration Order Triggers Protests Across US

    How does the reception of refugees change with this executive order?
    Trump's order cuts the number of refugees the United States plans to accept this budget year by more than half, to 50,000 people from around the world.

    During the last budget year the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria. President Barack Obama had set the current refugee limit at 110,000. The temporary halt to refugee admissions does include exceptions for people claiming religious persecution, as long as their religion is a minority faith in their country.

    How many people were affected by the order?
    There were 109 people denied entry to the U.S. upon arrival in the first 23 hours of the order, according to a senior Department of Homeland Security official. Abroad, 173 were denied entry on flights to the U.S. from the seven countries listed in the order.

    That's compared to 325,000 average daily travelers, which Trump spokespeople have called "a small price to pay" compared to the threat of a terrorist attack.

    Why are people protesting the order? 
    Trump's order sparked immediate chaos and outrage in the United States, with travelers getting detained at airports, panicked families searching for relatives and protesters marching against the measure — parts of which were quickly blocked by several federal courts.

    Protests Over Trump Immigration Orders Continue for 2nd DayProtests Over Trump Immigration Orders Continue for 2nd Day

    Anger over Trump's executive order on refugees and immigration sparked a second day of nationwide protests Sunday. Jennifer Johnson reports.
    (Published Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017)

    The outrage stemmed from the perception that the U.S. was going back on its history as a beacon of freedom and opportunity for the whole world. One protest was held in sight of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York City.

    Why does the Trump administration say this immigration ban is necessary?
    The executive order called said refugees and people from the seven predominantly Muslim countries entering the U.S. would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

    “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border,” said Trump in a statement on Sunday. Despite critics who refer to the action as a “Muslim ban,” Trump said the order is “not about religion” but keeping Americans safe.

    “We’re making sure that the priority is American citizens, American institutions, American businesses, American families,” press secretary Sean Spicer said on “Morning Joe” Monday morning. “That’s the number one job of any government and any leader, to protect its people.”

    But critics have seized on the words of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani who told Fox News that Trump had wanted a "Muslim ban" and asked Giuliani to create a commission to show him "the right way to do it legally."

    They also say that no one from the nations listed in the order has been responsible for an attack on U.S. soil. By comparison, most of the Sept. 11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia, which was left off the list.

    How is Syria specifically affected by the immigration order?
    Trump's order directs the State Department to stop issuing visas to nationals of conflict-torn Syria and halts the processing of Syrian refugees. That will remain in effect until Trump determines that enough security changes have been made to ensure that would-be terrorists can't exploit weaknesses in the current vetting system, according to the administration.

    How have leaders abroad reacted?
    America's closest allies spoke out against the entry ban to varying degrees. The British prime minister wouldn’t condemn the move but said she did "not agree" with the executive order. Other allies, such as France and Germany, criticized the ban as an act of discrimination, arguing that receiving refugees is a duty necessary for international cooperation. Canada's prime minister did not explicitly mention the ban while reaffirming the nation's commitment to receiving refugees, citing the necessity for diversity.

    On the other hand, the far-right National Democratic Party in Germany celebrated "the massive restriction on the entry of pseudo-refugees and Muslims to the USA."

    A petition on the British Parliament's website attracted over 1 million signatures backing a call for Trump, who has been invited to meet Queen Elizabeth II, to be barred from the U.K. on the basis of misogyny and vulgarity.

    How will immigration vetting change moving forward?
    During the Obama administration, vetting for refugees included in-person interviews overseas, where applicants provided biographical details about themselves including their families, friendships, social or political activities, employment, phone numbers, email accounts and more. They also provided biometric information, including fingerprints. Syrians were subject to additional, classified controls that administration officials at the time declined to describe, and processing for that group routinely took years to complete.

    Trump's order did not spell out specifically what additional steps he wants to see the Homeland Security and State departments add to the country's vetting system for refugees. Instead he directed officials to review the refugee application and approval process to find any security measures that could be added to prevent people who pose a threat from using the refugee program.

    What challenges have been filed so far?
    The American Civil Liberties Union quickly filed a lawsuit challenging the executive order on behalf of two Iraqi refugees stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport, arguing that the order violates due process, equal protection, international law and immigration law.

    A federal judge in Brooklyn issued an emergency stay of parts of Trump’s executive order Saturday night and prevented the government from deporting some people detained at airports across the country after their arrival in the United States. The judge did not rule on the constitutionality of the executive order.

    Judge Blocks Trump Immigration Executive OrderJudge Blocks Trump Immigration Executive Order

    Federal Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York Courthouse in Brooklyn granted an injunction in response to a request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal organizations on behalf of individuals subject to President Trump's immigration ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
    (Published Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017)

    Other lawsuits were filed in Boston, Seattle and Alexandria, Virginia. 

    On Monday, the first state-level action came from Washington. Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit asking a federal judge to declare key provisions of President Trump’s immigration executive order unconstitutional.

    "No one is above the law — not even the president," Ferguson said in a statement. "And in the courtroom, it is not the loudest voice that prevails. It’s the Constitution."

    What’s next?
    The ACLU is expected in the coming days to try to overturn the executive order, The Washington Post reports.

    It will argue that Trump’s executive order discriminates against Muslims and is unconstitutional. Trump is denying that the order is a Muslim ban, but the ACLU plans to rely on Trump’s own words in the past, according to The Washington Post.

    “We are likely to file a broader challenge to the Executive Order in the coming days, and we’ll likely seek temporary relief,” Lee Gelernt, a senior lawyer at the ACLU’s national office, told The Washington Post.

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would file a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of more than 20 people challenging the ban.

    The lawsuit, to be filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Virginia, will challenge the constitutionality of the order, arguing that its apparent purpose is to ban Muslims from the seven designated countries.

    “The courts must do what President Trump will not—ensure that our government refrains from segregating people based on their faith,” Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer who is co-counsel on the lawsuit, said in a statement.

    The Trump administration has yet to respond in detail to the lawsuits.

    The Department of Homeland Security said the Trump order "protects the United States from countries compromised by terrorism and ensures a more rigorous vetting process."

    And administration lawyers cite another provision of federal law that allows the president to "suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants" if the president determines that their entry would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States."