President Trump signed into effect a new travel ban on Monday to protect America from Islamic terrorism. The new travel ban halts the issuance of new US visas to citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen according to a report from RT:
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new executive order to reporters on Monday. Iraq, which was included in the January ban, was left off the list this time after the government in Baghdad agreed to increase cooperation with the US on background checks for its citizens applying for visas, AP reported…
…The new order also imposes a 120-day halt on refugee admissions from the six countries. Legal permanent residents (‘Green Card’ holders) from the countries will not be affected, however, Reuters reported citing a fact sheet supplied by the administration.”
— Eric Spracklen (@EricSpracklen) March 6, 2017
The official executive order states: “It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals. The screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) play a crucial role in detecting foreign nationals who may commit, aid, or support acts of terrorism and in preventing those individuals from entering the United States. It is therefore the policy of the United States to improve the screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the USRAP.”
The new executive order also details the reasons why Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen were selected.
(e) The following are brief descriptions, taken in part from the Department of State’s Country Reports onTerrorism 2015 (June 2016), of some of the conditions in six of the previously designated countries thatdemonstrate why their nationals continue to present heightened risks to the security of the United States:
(i) Iran. Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984 and continues to supportvarious terrorist groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, and terrorist groups in Iraq. Iran has also been linkedto support for al-Qa’ida and has permitted al-Qa’ida to transport funds and fighters through Iran to Syria andSouth Asia. Iran does not cooperate with the United States in counterterrorism efforts.
(ii) Libya. Libya is an active combat zone, with hostilities between the internationally recognizedgovernment and its rivals. In many parts of the country, security and law enforcement functionsare provided by armed militias rather than state institutions. Violent extremist groups, including the IslamicState of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have exploited these conditions to expand their presence in the country. TheLibyan government provides some cooperation with the United States’ counterterrorism efforts, but it isunable to secure thousands of miles of its land and maritime borders, enabling the illicit flow of weapons,migrants, and foreign terrorist fighters. The United States Embassy in Libya suspended its operations in2014.
(iii) Somalia. Portions of Somalia have been terrorist safe havens. Al-Shabaab, an al-Qa’ida-affiliatedterrorist group, has operated in the country for years and continues to plan and mount operations withinSomalia and in neighboring countries. Somalia has porous borders, and most countries do not recognizeSomali identity documents. The Somali government cooperates with the United States in somecounterterrorism operations but does not have the capacity to sustain military pressure on or to investigatesuspected terrorists.
(iv) Sudan. Sudan has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 because of its support forinternational terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas. Historically, Sudan provided safe havens foral-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups to meet and train. Although Sudan’s support to al-Qa’ida has ceased andit provides some cooperation with the United States’ counterterrorism efforts, elements of core al-Qa’ida andISIS-linked terrorist groups remain active in the country.
(v) Syria. Syria has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. The Syrian government isengaged in an ongoing military conflict against ISIS and others for control of portions of the country. At thesame time, Syria continues to support other terrorist groups. It has allowed or encouraged extremists to passthrough its territory to enter Iraq. ISIS continues to attract foreign fighters to Syria and to use its base inSyria to plot or encourage attacks around the globe, including in the United States. The United StatesEmbassy in Syria suspended its operations in 2012. Syria does not cooperate with the United States’counterterrorism efforts.
(vi) Yemen. Yemen is the site of an ongoing conflict between the incumbent government and the Houthi-led opposition. Both ISIS and a second group, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have exploitedthis conflict to expand their presence in Yemen and to carry out hundreds of attacks. Weapons and othermaterials smuggled across Yemen’s porous borders are used to finance AQAP and other terrorist activities. In 2015, the United States Embassy in Yemen suspended its operations, and embassy staff wererelocated out of the country. Yemen has been supportive of, but has not been able to cooperate fully with,the United States in counterterrorism efforts.
Groups that opposed the original travel ban are likely to oppose the new travel ban because they believe that it is religious discrimination. It is worth noting that the religious freedoms that are guaranteed by the bill of rights only apply to American Citizens.
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