Trump Expected to Sign Revised Refugee Admissions/Travel Ban Executive Order
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
In action that is now likely not to occur until next week, , President Trump is expected soon to sign a new executive order on refugee admissions and travel to the United States. Should he do so, it will replace the embattled refugee admissions/travel ban executive order that he signed on January 27, 2017, and that has been tied up in litigation ever since. Versions of the new draft have leaked to the media. However, at the time of this writing, the text had not yet appeared in public.
Reported Provisions. Press reports indicate that the revised executive order will contain the following provisions:
- Refugee Admissions Ceiling. Reports indicate that the new executive order will cap refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017, the current fiscal year, at 50,000. This would be a reduction of 60,000 compared to the number of such admissions planned for the fiscal year by the Obama Administration. Moreover, it would be a reduction of 35,000 from the 85,000 refugees who were admitted to the United States in Fiscal Year 2016. This would be identical to the provision that was contained in the January 27 Executive Order.
- Pause in the Refugee Program. Reports indicate that the new executive order will still pause the refugee program. However, the duration of the pause was not known at the time of this writing. The January 27 Order contained a 120-day pause in the program.
- Prioritization of Religious Minorities. Reports indicate that the new executive order will drop a provision contained in the January 27 Order that would have prioritized religious minorities for admission to the United States as refugees.
- Treatment of Syrian Refugees. Reports indicate that the new executive order will drop a provision contained in the January 27 Order that indefinitely barred refugees from Syria from entering the United States.
- Ninety Day Travel Ban. Reports indicate that the new executive order will contain a ban of some duration for the following seven predominately Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan. The January 27 Order contained a 90 day ban on travel to the United States for persons from those same countries.
- Treatment of Lawful Permanent Residents. Reports indicate that the new executive order will explicitly exempt LPRs from the travel ban. The January 27 Order did not explicitly do so. However, the White House Counsel “reinterpreted” it as doing so after litigation called into question the constitutionality of that provision.
Implementation. At the time of this writing, it was being reported that the text of the order still was not final and that several inter-departmental reports could delay issuance of the Order. Among the questions that reportedly were under dispute is what to do with the visas of between 60,000 to 100,000 people who are from the banned countries and already have visas to visit the United States.
The Associated Press has reported that the Department of Homeland Security and the White House want to revoke the visas while Department of Justice lawyers are concerned that if they do so, they could be held in contempt of court by a Seattle judge who issued a temporary restraining order blocking the implementation of that particular provision in the January 27th executive order.”
Not much has been said publicly by Department of State and Department of Homeland Security officials about the new Order. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that there would likely be a short delay in the implementation of it to accommodate people who are in the process of traveling to the U.S. at the time the Order is signed.
It also has been reported that the Order will give the secretary of state broad authority to waive individual cases and allow, in certain instances, citizens from the seven banned countries to enter the U.S., but the secretary must agree with the Department of Homeland Security before specific cases are waived.
The new Order could be issued as soon as today. It will almost certainly become immediately embroiled in litigation.