President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Monday blocking the issuance of new visas to citizens of six Middle Eastern countries: Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The order replaces the one signed in January, which was ultimately blocked by the courts. The new “travel ban” differs from the first one in several key ways, the first of which are the countries affected by the order. Iraq was removed from the original list of seven after U.S. officials warned that it could have a deteriorating effect on our military efforts in the region.
The new order does not affect green card holders or visa recipients or any other legal entrants to the U.S. It applies only to new visitors, and it does not provide for a religious exemption to the refugee aspect of the order. Perhaps most significantly, the order does not go into effect until March 16, giving both individuals and airline security personnel more than a week to make the appropriate arrangements. With the delay, the White House is hoping to avoid the chaotic situation that unfolded after the first, instantly-implemented ban.
In other respects, the ban is very similar to its predecessor. The new moratorium is only scheduled to last 90 days in respect to travel from the six countries, and it puts the entire refugee resettlement program on hold for 120 days. Additionally, it puts a new refugee cap of 50,000 for the fiscal year, down from Obama’s 110,000.
The new order was written with an eye towards what the courts’ ruled last month. By allowing current residents and visa-holders to travel, the White House is hoping to erase any standing a Democratic state administration might hope to claim when suing them. And by removing the exemption for Christian refugees, Trump is hoping to hack away at legal arguments that the order essentially amounts to religious discrimination.
Still, it would shock us if this order didn’t wind up in court just as quickly as the last one. Now it has become a symbolic fight for both sides. The left wants to make it impossible for this president to do anything, and the president wants to cut a clear circle around the powers of the executive branch – and, of course, shore up glaring holes in our national security system. If nothing else, this legal battle certainly clarifies where everyone stands on terrorism.
Not that it was in much doubt.