On his first day in office, President Joe Biden is beginning the immense task of dismantling former President Donald Trump’s nativist legacy on immigration, issuing an executive order to end Trump’s controversial travel ban on noncitizens from 13 countries.
The policy, colloquially referred to as the “Muslim ban,” first went into effect in January 2017 and have become one among Trump’s signature immigration policies. The ban has slowed or altogether halted legal immigration from certain countries that the previous administration deemed to be security threats, keeping families apart and even stymieing refugee resettlement.
The travel ban was Trump’s first major action on immigration policy, setting the tone for the chaotic four years that followed for immigrants while galvanizing public opposition.
When the ban was announced, it resulted in mass protests in airports across the US where people from the affected countries, which were initially limited to those with majority-Muslim populations, were held for questioning for hours.
Biden is additionally proposing a sweeping immigration bill that might provide a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million people living illegally within the U.S. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday night that the president had sent the text of his proposal to Congress.
The travel ban and border wall were the fulfillments of Trump’s central 2016 campaign promises, to clamp down on immigration and limit the amount of Muslims coming to the U.S. Biden condemned them as an attack on racial and religious minorities.
The ban was amended several times within the face of various court challenges arguing that Trump didn’t have the legal authority to issue it which it unlawfully discriminated against Muslims. The third version of the ban, ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, barred citizens of seven countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea — from obtaining any kind of visas, largely preventing them from entering the US. (Chad was taken off the list of nations subject to the ban in April 2019 after it met the Trump administration’s demands to share information with US authorities that would aid in efforts to vet foreigners.)
Trump expanded the ban last February to incorporate additional restrictions on citizens of six more countries: Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. While they might still visit the US, citizens of those countries were, for the foremost part, barred from settling within the US permanently.
Ending the ban was one of Biden’s topline campaign promises on immigration policy — and he’s on the brink of delivering. But this executive order only marks the beginning of a project to erase Trump’s influence on the immigration system, which was primarily concerned with keeping people out through an enormous network of executive orders, policy memos, and regulatory changes.
The ban that Biden ended blocked entry to most of the people from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea . It also restricted immigrant visas for people from Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Eritrea also as surely others from Venezuela and Tanzania.
More than 41,000 people are denied visas thanks to the ban. Citizens of any of the banned countries could qualify for a waiver that might grant them entry to the US if, for instance , they needed urgent medical aid or were trying to reunite with their immediate family within the US. But those waivers proved exceedingly difficult to get .