BY SARAH LOFSTROM ’19
On January 27, President Trump issued Executive Order 13764 prohibiting travelers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan from entering the United States for 90 days and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days. The Executive Order is entitled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the U.S." as reported by CNN.
The ban has caused nationwide confusion regarding the particulars of those allowed to travel to the U.S. and those prohibited as hundreds of travellers and immigrants have been detained in airports across the U.S. Conflicting statements from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security regarding whether green card holders may legally remain within the U.S. have contributed to the confusion.
As reported by Al Jazeera, attorney generals from 16 U.S. states including California and New York issued a statement on Sunday condemning the President's executive order.
Since Arab Spring in 2011, Syria has been heavily impacted by violent conflict and remains one of the most war-torn countries in the world. Almost 100,000 refugees resettled in the U.S., according to the Guardian. ISIS has expanded considerably in Syria, significantly worsening the conflict and its impact on civilians. Under ISIS rule in Syria, freedom of expression has been curtailed and access to the outside world is nearly impossible, according to CNN. The executive order issued by Trump specifically bans Syrians indefinitely from entering the U.S., a prohibition that doesn't apply to any of the other countries, as reported by BBC.
According to Reuters, the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr responded to the president's travel ban by issuing a statement on his website declaring, "It would be arrogance for you to enter freely Iraq and other countries while barring them entrance to your country and therefore you should get your nationals out."
Following both U.S. occupation of Iraq and the threat of ISIS, the country has been struggling to maintain any political stability. Particularly in Mosul, where ISIS influence is very strong, there are approximately "1 million people estimated to remain out of humanitarian reach in Mosul" as reported by the United Nations. In 2015, over 200,000 immigrants resettled in the U.S. were from Iraq, as reported by the Guardian. Thousands of Iraqis who seek refuge in the U.S. will be unable to do so.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shared his views on the President's executive order in a series of seven tweets on Twitter, including one that proclaimed the travel ban "will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters." He also declared that the "international community needs dialogue and cooperation to address the roots of violence & extremism in a comprehensive and inclusive manner.∫"
However, the Iran 2015/2016 Amnesty International Report revealed that the country's authorities had severely limited citizens' freedom of expression, which the government actively denied. According to the Guardian, almost 400,000 Iranians resettled in the U.S. in 2015, the highest number of any of the seven countries impacted by the ban. The United States is an essential place of resettlement for Iranian refugees.
Since early 2015, Yemen has been engaged in a civil war since that has left it economically and politically crippled. Prior to the conflict in 2015, the World Bank reported that the country was already facing challenges of high population growth, widespread poverty, economic stagnation, food and water scarcity and female illiteracy. These issues have only been exacerbated due to the escalation of the conflict. 1.5 million children are malnourished in Yemen, according to UNICEF.
Partly due to its close proximity to Syria, the country receivesfar less worldwide attention and humanitarian aid. Yemenis wanting to leave the country do not have the nearness to Europe that Syrians do, making it harder to leave the country, as reported by CNN. In the past, the United States has provided a necessary place of resettlement.
As one of the world's most impoverished countries, Somalia is very politically unstable. Since 2012, extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab have claimed power by carrying out attacks against the government and recruiting child soldiers, according to CNN.
An African Union coalition has helped to curb extremist power in the country, but the humanitarian situation remains severe. Human Rights Watch reported that due to the political instability and violence of the government, Somalis remain susceptible to sexual violence and displacement. Almost 100,000 Somalis sought refuge in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Guardian.
More than 100,000 Sudanese have sought safety outside the country since mid-October 2014, according to the World Bank. The travel ban will negatively impact those seeking refuge outside Sudan by prohibiting them from entering the U.S..
Sudan has been struggling for over 10 years following the Darfur conflict of 2003 during which rebel groups attacked the government. The resulting violence has directly impacted its citizens as the government exacerbates issues of land allocation and socioeconomic marginalization, as reported by CNN.
In 2016, an Amnesty International report revealed that the Sudanese government was guilty of using chemical weapons against people in Darfur.