On Monday, March 6, President Trump signed another executive order to deal with immigration from Muslim-majority nations much like the first. This one is intended to curtail the most incendiary features of the first, which drew more backlash from American citizens and the judicial system than any other action the President has taken since his inauguration. Despite this, among the most divergent distinctions this revision carries that separate it from the first is the fact that it was signed without the press corps or any media affiliates present. With no photo op, it was done quietly, yet it has ultimately received the same loud criticisms that the first received.
The original ban was most commonly referred to by proponents and opposition as the “Muslim ban,” yet this new executive order is being dubbed a “travel ban.” The original incurred a lawsuit from the state of Washington, and Seattle Judge James Robart presided over the case, finding that the Muslim ban was unconstitutional. As such, his ruling was that a restraining order be placed on the ban itself, which halted the effects of the Muslim ban nationwide.
The so-called travel ban does bear innumerable similarities to the Muslim ban in its measures and provisions despite the fact that the Trump Administration spent a month revising the order in response to the legal freeze enforced on the Muslim ban. Arguably the primary difference is that, in accordance with Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s recommendation, Iraq has been removed from the list of Muslim-majority nations. Secretary Mattis explained, according to White House officials, that keeping Iraq in the list only served to hinder steps taken to dismantle ISIS. As such, the travel ban pertains to six Muslim-majority nations instead of seven.
This revised ban temporarily halts the U.S. refugee program, and it applies to Somalia, Syria, Iran, the Sudan, Yemen, and Libya. A critical change, though, is that the travel ban no longer singles out Muslims on a religious basis by way of preferential status offered to so-called “religious minorities,” which was a provision in the Muslim ban that was criticized as being a means by which to admit other religious groups and, thereby, isolate Muslims for rejection. The travel ban also exempts those with visas and those with permanent residence in the United States, which the Muslim ban did not do. These are significant changes to the language of the ban as well as its implementation that genuinely address aspects of what was cited in the Washington state appellate court in the ruling against the ban.
This time, Washington state is far from alone in its opposition of the travel ban. Judge Robart has permitted the state of Oregon to join the suit against this ban as well. Oregon’s Attorney General has expressed pain on behalf of the state, claiming that the order impinges upon the Oregon’s educational institutions, health care system, agencies, employers, and economy. Additionally, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that the states of Massachusetts and New York are requesting to be added to the case, further stacking the deck against Trump’s executive order.
“After spending more than a month to fix a broken order that he rushed out the door,” said Ferguson, “the President’s new order reinstates several of the same provisions and has the same illegal motivations as the original.”