When President Trump issued a new travel ban on Sunday, he dropped Sudan from his old ban and added three new countries: Venezuela, North Korea, and Chad. Of those three, only Chad has a (barely) Muslim majority, and all three are odd picks. The ban mostly targets government officials in Venezuela, and North Korea doesn't let its citizens leave — making it hard to argue that either ban makes America safer from terrorists, Trump's rationale. And Africa experts are baffled as to why Trump included Chad, a Central African nation with a close military partnership with the U.S. and France and a strong track record of combating Islamic militants.
Chad seems puzzled, too, and upset. On Monday, Chad said it is "baffled" and "astonished" to be included in the ban, and it "invites President Donald Trump to reconsider this decision, which severely tarnishes the image of Chad, and the strong relationship between the two countries, particularly in the fight against terrorism." Trump's proclamation said that "Chad does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information and fails to satisfy at least one key risk criterion," but Africa experts said they doubt Chad is worse than its neighbors, especially Sudan, which is still on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
"It makes no sense whatsoever. In fact I wonder if there wasn't some sort of mistake made," John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told BuzzFeed News. "It's an insult. What really gets to me is the apparent sheer stupidity of it." Brandon Kendhammer, a West Africa expert at Ohio University, said he bets "the ambassadors and AFRICOM are losing their minds right now." The decision is "totally nuts," he added. "This morning we were all like, 'What the hell is going on?'" "This makes no sense at all, even from a Trumpian standpoint," Reed Brody, a Human Rights Watch lawyer who has worked extensively in Chad, tells The New York Times.
Several analysts suggested that the lack of State Department and Pentagon experts may have contributed to the counterproductive decision. Trump hasn't even nominated 80 key State Department appointees, including the assistant secretary for African affairs, and the Pentagon is only 15 key positions confirmed out of 54. Peter Weber
On Sunday evening, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation placing indefinite travel restrictions on visitors from eight nations: Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and Somalia. Sudan was dropped from Trump's original travel bans, the latter of which expired Sunday, while Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela were added. The proclamation, which Trump administration officials say carries the weight of an executive order, spells out different restrictions for different countries, ranging from total bans for North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Chad to just a ban on Venezuelan government officials and their families. It goes into effect Oct. 18.
A senior administration official said the new travel restrictions are "conditions-based, not time-based," and could be revisited if a country becomes willing or able to meet minimum passenger screening and information-sharing standards. Trump's ban on refugees, set to expire Oct. 24, will be addressed separately. It is unclear how the new proclamation will affect the Supreme Court challenge to Trump's travel bans set to be litigated in oral arguments Oct. 10.
Trump's second ban, most of which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect over the summer, affected Muslim-majority countries. With the new ban, "six of President Trump's targeted countries are Muslim," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The fact that Trump has added North Korea — with few visitors to the U.S. — and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn't obfuscate the real fact that the administration's order is still a Muslim ban. ... President Trump's original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list." The White House denies that the ban targets Muslims specifically. Peter Weber
President Trump's childhood home in Queens, New York, was posted on Airbnb last month and, being filled with Trump family memorabilia and a life-size cutout of 45 himself, the residence appears to be the perfect place to stay if you're a superfan of the president. This weekend, though, it was utilized by some of Trump's biggest critics — refugees.
"As world leaders gather in New York for the United Nation's General Assembly, Oxfam [America] and refugees resettled in the United States from Syria, Somalia, and Vietnam gathered in Queens, New York — in the childhood home of President Trump — to send an unequivocal message to world leaders: refugees are welcome here," Oxfam America writes.
Ghassan al-Chahada, who arrived in the U.S. from Syria in 2012, stayed in what is thought to be Trump's childhood bedroom. "I had hopes I would get my green card and be able to visit my country," al-Chahada told The Associated Press. "But since Trump was elected I don't dare, I don't dare leave this country and not be able to come back."
He mused about what he would say to Trump if the two ever met: "I would advise him to remember, to think about how he felt when he slept in this bedroom," al-Chahada said. "If he can stay in tune with who he was as a child, the compassion children have and the mercy, I would say he's a great person."
Eiman Ali, who was brought to the U.S. by her parents when they fled Somalia, also marveled at being in the place where Trump spent his early years. "Knowing Donald Trump was here at the age of four makes me think about where I was at the age of four," she said. "We're all kids who are raised to be productive citizens, who have all these dreams and hopes." Jeva Lange
After several lower courts blocked Trump's original and follow-up bans, the Supreme Court on Monday approved a limited version of the ban, which affects citizens of Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran, and Yemen. The high court ruled that people from those countries who want to get visas need to have "bona fide relationships" inside the United States, and the State Department issued guidelines stating it considers "bona fide" relatives to be a parent, spouse, child, son- or daughter-in-law, and sibling. On Thursday night, fiancées were added to the list.
Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday night asking a federal judge to clarify that the ban cannot be enforced against relatives not included in the definition set forward by the State Department, like grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Immigration officials have been instructed to not block entrance to the United States of any travelers from those six countries who hold valid documents. Trump has claimed these steps are necessary to prevent terrorism. Catherine Garcia
Late Thursday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of its ban against all refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority nations, and to allow the ban to take effect while it considers the appeal. President Trump's second executive order — he withdrew the first after it was blocked in court — has been stayed by both a federal judge in Hawaii and by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in May that Trump's order "drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination" and is "intended to bar Muslims from this country."
The Justice Department is arguing to the Supreme Court that the lower courts erred in taking into consideration Trump's vow, as a candidate, to ban Muslims from the U.S., saying that he has now sworn to uphold the Constitution so his campaign statements don't count. "The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States," says Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.
If the ban takes effect, it would bar visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days and all U.S. refugees for 120 days, to give immigration officials time to see if there are serious flaws in the visa program. Trump has now been in office for 132 days. Asking for an immediate unfreezing of the ban is "an interesting procedural move, but the fact that it's taken this long may undermine, at least to some extent, the Trump administration's core argument that the entry ban, which has never gone into full effect, is essential to protect our national security," University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck tells CNN. "While it seems likely that the court will eventually hear the government's challenge, the real question now is what happens in the interim."
It would take five justices to agree to allow Trump's travel ban to take effect, and the high court will likely hear arguments in the fall. "The temporary nature of the bans means they could well have run their course by the time the case is ready to be argued," The Associated Press says. But "if at least five justices vote to let the travel ban take effect, there's a good chance they also would uphold the policy later on." Peter Weber
On Thursday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia upheld a nationwide block of President Trump's ban on travel from six majority Muslim countries. "The ruling is the most bruising the White House has suffered in its attempts to defend the ban, as it was rendered by 13 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit — which deemed the case important enough to skip the usual three-judge process that the vast majority of cases go through," The Huffington Post writes.
"Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles — that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy or favor or disfavor one religion over another," Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote, adding that the president's power to deny entry to aliens is "not absolute" and "cannot go unchecked."
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) May 25, 2017
Trump can now appeal to the Supreme Court, a move he has promised he would pursue if necessary. Jeva Lange
Hospitals might be unfairly rejecting qualified medical students from residencies due to concerns over how President Trump's travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries could play out, The Boston Globe reports. As many as 1,000 students could be penalized based on their country of origin, despite possibly being the most qualified students available for the positions:
Many doctors vehemently oppose the executive order but say that, as a matter of practicality, they need to ensure that anyone they hire as a medical resident is ready to work on July 1, to provide crucial patient care.
As a result, hospital administrators, who on Wednesday must submit lists of the medical students they would most like to hire, have been tempted to rank students from those seven countries lower than their credentials would merit. [The Boston Globe]
The chief executive of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, called the decision being made by hospitals to pick between the best candidates or have residents ready by July to care for patients "impossible." Nearly one in every five physicians in the U.S. is born abroad; of 3,700 applications for 45 open residency positions at the Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, two of the final candidates include doctors from Iran and Iraq — nations that are banned under Trump's order.
"We are in a position where we're willing to take the risk right now," said Dr. Jatin M. Vyas, the director of the school's internal medicine residency program. "We are simply looking for the best talent." Jeva Lange