travel ban
January 31, 2020

On Friday, the Trump administration announced a new wave in its blanket bans on people from certain countries. And this time around, it includes one particularly vulnerable group — and one that tends to be very successful once it arrives in the U.S.

President Trump's original travel ban was one of his first acts in office, blocking people from several countries, most of which were majority Muslim, from coming to the U.S. altogether. This newest iteration explicitly bans people from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania from receiving immigration visas, but doesn't touch those who are just visiting temporarily. That leaves 13 total countries on the travel ban list.

The fact that the ban explicitly targets those who are here to stay is particularly confusing when it comes to Nigeria, seeing as its immigrants are among the most likely immigrants to receive college degrees once they come to the U.S. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of Nigerian immigrants to the U.S. have college degrees, as opposed to 33 percent of Americans who do, Census data has shown. Nigerian immigrants are also much more likely to hold doctorates and master's degrees.

Myanmar also stands out among this new group because, unlike every other banned country, it doesn't have a significant Muslim population. In fact, its Rohingya Muslim people faced severe persecution and rampant genocide that turned survivors into refugees. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 27, 2019

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) won't be headed to the Philippines anytime soon.

The two Democrats are banned from the country after they included a provision aiding a top critic of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Congress' 2020 spending bill, Duterte's spokesperson announced Friday. Duterte is also considering requiring all U.S. citizens to get visas before traveling to the country if Durbin and Leahy's provision goes through, Reuters reports.

In early 2017, the prominent Duterte critic and Filipino Sen. Leila de Lima was arrested on drug offenses "after she led an investigation into mass killings during Duterte's notorious anti-drugs crackdown," Reuters writes. This year's congressional spending bill includes a provision blocking anyone involved with Lima's arrest and detention from entering the U.S.

Currently, the Philippines allows U.S. citizens to enter without a visa for up to 30 days. But after the spending bill passed Congress, Duterte's spokesperson announced the potential change, saying "we will not sit idly if they continue to interfere with our processes as a sovereign state." The spokesperson added, "The case of Sen. de Lima is not one of persecution but of prosecution." Kathryn Krawczyk

April 10, 2019

Congressional Democrats have launched a counteroffensive against President Trump's "Muslim ban."

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), backed by a host of other Democratic members of Congress, filed legislation that, if passed, would end Trump's executive order, which banned travelers to the United States from five Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. (North Korea and Venezuela, which are not Muslim-majority countries, are also on the list.)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, tweeted her support for the bill on Tuesday evening.

Coons held a press conference Wednesday morning introducing the legislation and tweeted that the bill has the support of "nearly 400 civil rights, faith, national security, and community organizations." He said on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday that in addition to repealing this particular ban, the bill would narrow presidential powers to implement similar measures in the future.

Trump's executive order was upheld 5-4 by the Supreme Court last year, as a majority of the justices concluded the president was operating within the law based on questions of national security. The dissenting opinion, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued the ban was racially focused.

The Hill reports the new bill is unlikely to become law, even if it passes the House, because of the Republican-majority Senate and Trump's veto power. Coons has acknowledged the bill's likely failure but says it "is still worth articulating that there is a legal path towards keeping our country safe and narrowing the power of the executive so that a future president does not do this again." Tim O'Donnell

December 23, 2017

A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Friday night that the latest iteration of President Trump's travel ban violates federal law, and its issuance by the president via executive order exceeds executive branch authority as delegated by the Constitution.

The court's unanimous decision says the ban improperly overrides congressional lawmaking power, engages in "nationality discrimination," and does not demonstrate that "nationality alone renders entry of this broad class of individuals a heightened security risk or that current screening processes are inadequate." The current ban indefinitely suspends (with some exceptions) U.S. entry for visitors from Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and Somalia.

This ruling will not inhibit the ban's implementation, because the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month it can stay in effect during legal challenges in lower courts. However, Friday's decision does bring the ban one step closer to a final ruling from SCOTUS. Bonnie Kristian

November 13, 2017

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled on Monday that President Trump's latest version of a travel ban can go partially into effect, letting the government deny entry into the country of people who hail from six Muslim-majority countries and have no ties to family or institutions in the U.S.

Trump announced the travel ban, his third, on Sept. 24, replacing previous bans that were stopped in federal courts. The state of Hawaii sued to block the ban, arguing that the Trump administration does not have the authority to impose the restrictions under federal immigration law, and the Trump administration requested that the appeals court block a judge's ruling that put the ban on hold.

Under Monday's ruling, the ban will apply to people from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad who have no connections to the United States; familial connections include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law living in the U.S. Trump says his travel ban is necessary to protect the United States. Catherine Garcia

September 26, 2017

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

September 25, 2017

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

September 18, 2017

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

See More Speed Reads