Trump Administration Planning to Extend the 2017 Travel Restrictions

Published on: Jan 28, 2020, Last Edited: Jan 28, 2020 | Tags: USA Visa Restrictions, USA Visa Requirements

Introduction

At the Davos summit last week, President Trump announced that he was going to add more countries to the controversial 2017 travel ban list under Executive Order 13769. The White House seems to be suggesting that several countries not currently included on the list are no longer complying with US security requirements. While the president did not specify which additional countries would be included, a senior government official confirmed that Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria, Belarus and Tanzania were likely to be added.

The new list has been the subject of much speculation over recent weeks and another source familiar with the security discussions said that the additional countries being banned might not be from the same parts of the world as those on the original list. These included Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Venezuela, Chad and North Korea. Travelers from Sudan and Iraq had previously been banned from entering the country but were now permitted.

Announcement Timing

According to the Politico website, the announcement could be made as soon as this week, nearly a year after the original restrictions came into force. Such an announcement would be seen as demonstrating President Trump’s continuing commitment to some of his most controversial policies regarding immigration. The President is currently in the middle of an impeachment trial and the new travel ban would be strongly appealing to his electoral base during the coming year’s presidential election campaign.

White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley claimed in a statement that the President was planning no announcements regarding an extension to Executive Order 13769, which he claimed was extremely successful in protecting US security and interests.

He went on to remark that both national security and common sense dictated that if a country wished to participate fully in United States immigration programmes, it would be necessary for them to comply fully with all the counter-terrorism and security measures required because the US did not want to bring terrorism or any other security risks into their country.

President Trump announced his plans for implementing Executive Order 13769, which barred people from several countries from entering the US, immediately after taking office in 2016, prompting worldwide criticism and protests at several major airports.

Several legal challenges were immediately filed and in June 2018, the case arrived at the Supreme Court where it was upheld by a majority of 5 to 4. The Chief Justice found that President Trump had all the necessary authority required to make national security judgements regarding immigration policy.

Immigrants hurry to apply for US citizenship as uncertainty over future policies increases

A rising number of immigrant residing in the USA are opting to apply for citizenship. This is due to a combination of factors, with uncertainty regarding the Trump administration’s policies on immigration and a wish to be able to vote in this year’s presidential election being the most important.

During the fiscal year ending September 2019, more than 830,000 immigrants were granted US citizenship, an increase of 9.5% form the previous year and an 11-year high. However, the number of individuals obtaining green cards has decreased. In a press release, USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) stated that 577,000 people had been granted green cards giving them legal permanent residence, a sharp decrease of nearly 48% from the previous year.

US residents of Indian origin, many of whom are professionals in the IT sector, were one of the largest groups given United States citizenship in the fiscal year of 2018, according to the country of birth data provided by the DHS(Department of Homeland Security). They made up almost 7% of all new citizens, reflecting a rise of over 2.5% compared to the year before.

The biggest group of 130,000 was made up once again of residents of Mexican origin while Chinese residents took third place with nearly 40,000 people granted citizenship. The delays in immigration processing have provoked much criticism but USCIS points to the reduction in numbers applying for both citizenship and green cards.

To apply for naturalisation, the process by which foreign nationals can acquire US citizenship, they must first have been a permanent resident for five years. If they are married to a United States citizen, the period is only three years.

The green card backlog

Experts on immigration see the rise in applications for citizenship as being driven by two factors: a desire to vote in November’s presidential election and the current uncertainties over future immigration policies, which might affect even those who hold a green card.

There is concern over the negative growth in approval of green card applications particularly for people from Mexico, China and India. All countries except Cuba are currently showing negative growth and experts see this as a result of increased vetting of applications for green cards.

According to April 2018 figures from CATO, a think-tank based in the United States, 131,000 Mexicans (or 28% of the waiting list) in both the family and the employment categories were waiting for their green card applications to be approved. People born in India were second, with a total of 920,000 (or 19% of the total waiting list).

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