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Donald Trump revises his Muslim ban – but has anything actually changed?

The US President has signed a second executive order.

By Julia Rampen

The US President Donald Trump has signed a revised version of the executive order widely called the “Muslim Ban”, according to the Guardian. 

The original ban provoked outcry around the world, with demonstrations in London and other major cities. 

In the initial aftermath, refugees bound for the United States found themselves trapped inside airports in immigration limbo, while British citizens with dual nationality feared they would also be affected. UK public figures such as the Iraqi-born Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi and the Somalia-born athlete Mo Farah were among those believed to be affected by the ban. 

Since then, lawyers sought to overturn the travel ban, and judges ruled to block it. So what does the regenerated ban look like? 

Is this still a Muslim ban?

In a nutshell: yes. The Trump administration has tried to shake off this phrase, but the new travel ban still employs blanket discrimination. It blocks entry to the US for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, for 90 days. Iraqis with valid visas can now enter the US.

The reason for the Iraqi exception is the “close co-operative relationship” between the US and Iraqi governments. Nevertheless, Iraqi visa applicants will still be subject to additional scrutiny. 

Meanwhile, the revised order still prevents Syrian refugees from entering the US – a move that has been judged illegal under international human rights law. The slight change is that it no longer does so indefinitely. Instead, there will be a 120-day ban starting on 16 March 2017. 

Am I going to get into the United States?

The first executive order sparked confusion, with dual nationals wondering if they would be affected. Leaked factsheets on the new order suggest that someone with existing documentation – a valid visa, a valid green card, or their other passport – will be exempt.

However, the ban remains in place for any citizens of the affected countries who have not yet managed to get this valid paperwork, or only have passports from the affected countries. 

This time, the executive order will not come into force instantly, but is scheduled for 16 March 2017.

Is this a win for Trump or the human rights lawyers?

Ever since the Muslim Ban was announced, lawyers have been trying to overturn the presidential authority through the power of the courts. In one way, this is a win, as Trump has been forced to revoke his original executive order. The Huffington Post called the revised ban “a major political defeat”.

But on the other hand, the White House has a better idea of how its opponents will try to overturn the ban, and any Iranian, Somalian, Syrian, Libyan, Sudanese or Yemeni without a valid visa is still blocked from even trying to apply for one. As for those US residents with valid paperwork, after the scenes at the airports in January, they may nevertheless feel nervous about leaving the country any time soon.


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