Five things to know about Trump's new travel ban

Five things to know about Trump's new travel ban
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President Trump rolled out a new and more targeted version of his controversial travel ban over the weekend — and this time the policy is permanent.

The new set of travel restrictions were designed to replace Trump's 90-day ban on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries, which came to an end on Sunday. The White House said the stoppage was needed so that it could review, and possibly beef up, its vetting procedures for visa holders and refugees.

The latest version of the ban, delivered in a presidential proclamation, covers five countries from the earlier ban, adds three new nations to the list and includes travel restrictions that vary from country to country.

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Trump's third effort to tighten the nation’s borders has prompted the Supreme Court to cancel previously scheduled oral arguments over whether the initial travel ban is legal.

"The travel ban — the tougher, the better,” Trump told reporters on Sunday. 

Here are five things to know about the new policy.

Affected countries

Eight countries are affected by the new travel suspension: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

Although Iraq is not part of the list of targeted nations, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that Iraqi nationals should "be subject to additional scrutiny.”

Chad, North Korea and Venezuela were not included in Trump’s original travel ban. Sudan, which was included in the original ban, has been dropped from the latest list. 

But this time around, the travel restrictions are tailored to each individual nation. For some countries, there will be a blanket travel ban, while other nations will only face restrictions for certain categories of visitors trying to enter the U.S.

In Venezuela, for example, travel is only suspended for government officials and their families.

In Iran, the travel suspension won't apply to people holding valid student and exchange visas.

And in Syria and North Korea, all citizens — both nonimmigrant and immigrants — will be barred from entering the U.S.

The addition of North Korea and Venezuela, which are not predominantly Muslim nations, could help the administration fight back against claims that Trump’s travel ban was just a thinly disguised version of the “Muslim ban” Trump called for during his presidential campaign. 

But critics say that the new restrictions on the two countries that aren’t predominantly Muslim are little more than window dressing, since only a handful of North Koreans travel to the U.S. every year and the travel suspension on Venezuela only applies to government officials.

Timeline

Unlike earlier versions of Trump’s travel ban, the new policy has no expiration date.

The administration said the indefinite travel suspension would be rolled out in two phases. 

First, the directive will take effect immediately for the five countries that were already included in the earlier travel ban, except for visitors who have a “bona fide” connection to the U.S. 

Then, beginning Oct. 18, the ban will start taking effect for the three new nations on the list. 

But White House officials have emphasized that the restrictions are conditional. If countries improve their information-sharing practices, the restrictions could be lifted, while new nations could also be added to the list in the future. 

Changes to the list can be made on a rolling basis, with the DHS required to submit a report to the White House every 180 days about whether the ban should be kept in place or altered.

Exemptions

The new travel ban includes an array of exemptions and waivers for foreign nationals. 

The new restrictions will not apply to existing visa holders, legal permanent residents or people who work with the U.S. government. 

Waivers can be granted on a case-by-case basis if denying entry would cause the foreign national “undue hardship” and if it does not pose a threat to the national security.

The directive says that waivers could apply to visitors if they were already admitted to work or study in the U.S.; if they have significant business or professional obligations in the country; if they want to visit a spouse, child or parent; or if they have an infant or child who needs urgent medical care. 

Trump’s initial version of the ban did not include any exemptions for travelers, sparking widespread legal challenges and forcing the administration to revise the executive order.

The Supreme Court further narrowed the ban by ruling that those with a bona fide connection to a person or entity in the U.S. should be exempt from the policy. 

Tougher vetting 

The administration said it chose countries for the new travel restrictions based on the results of a robust DHS review of U.S. vetting procedures.

The report, which was submitted to the White House two weeks ago, came after the DHS raised its standards for security screening this summer.

The new requirements, which countries were given 50 days to comply with, include sharing more information with the U.S. about prospective travelers, issuing electronic passports, sharing criminal data and reporting lost and stolen passports.

Foreign governments also have to work with the U.S. to help identify serious criminals and known or suspected terrorists.

Countries that were unable or unwilling to comply with the new screening measures were then identified and sent to the president, along with a set of recommendations about tailored travel restrictions that should apply to each nation.

Legal impacts

It’s not immediately clear how the new directive will impact an upcoming Supreme Court case challenging the legality of the earlier travel ban. In light of the changes, the Supreme Court canceled an oral arguments hearing that had been scheduled for Oct. 10. 

The Justice Department said it plans to update the Supreme Court about the latest round of travel restrictions.

And lawyers who challenged Trump’s original travel ban are weighing whether to challenge the new restrictions as well.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin (D), one of the lead plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, said he was still reviewing the administration’s new travel restrictions. 

The Supreme Court ordered both parties to file additional briefs arguing whether their cases are now moot in light of the changes.