Amended travel ban now in force
The United States implemented a modified version of Donald Trump’s travel ban last Thursday on some people from six Muslim-majority countries and certain refugees, citing security concerns that federal courts have declared to be unfounded.
Travel through major US airports appeared to be proceeding as usual, with border officials under orders to respect previously issued visas for citizens from the countries in question: Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Yemen, Syria and Libya.
The airport scenes contrasted sharply with the protests and security chaos that greeted the administration’s first travel ban in January, which drew impassioned demonstrators and led to the sudden detention and expulsion of travellers with valid visas.
Just before the latest travel ban took effect, it came under court challenge, with the state of Hawaii questioning the administration’s interpretation of a standard for granting visas described by the supreme court in a ruling last Monday partially allowing the ban.
Travellers with a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” could be exempt from the ban, the high court ruled. The administration interpreted “bona fide relationship” to include parents, children, in-laws and steprelations but to exclude grandparents, nephews, nieces, cousins and others.
David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, called the situation “alarming”, “confusing” and “inhumane”.
“The banning of grandmothers – of unaccompanied children – from America’s shores is a disgrace,” Miliband said. “Doubly so when America is a breaking a promise we have made to safeguard them.”
Trump declared the measure a victory. “Great day for America’s future Security and Safety,” he tweeted at the time of the supreme court decision. “We must keep America SAFE!”
A Cato Institute study of terrorist attacks in the United States over the 40 years from 1975–2015 concluded that nationals from the six countries in question – Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan – were responsible for zero fatal attacks on US soil in that time period. Refugees from Syria and elsewhere, likewise, are not a threat at all, empirically speaking.