On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a new executive order restricting travel from eight countries: Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea. This is the third ban coming from the White House this year that places heavy restrictions mainly on predominantly Muslim-majority countries. The new restrictions on travel vary by country and include a phased-in approach that was planned to begin on October 18, 2017. This ban has removed Sudan from the previous list of countries for whom travel is restricted.
The President’s first executive order on January, 27, 2017 barred entry of all Syrian refugees. It imposed in essence a religious test for immigrant and refugee entry to the U.S. by refusing entry to any individual coming from a list of majority-Muslim nations – betraying even those individuals with visas and who have supported our nation's military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The January 27 executive order was immediately met with criticism and legal challenges. Eventually, the President revoked the original order and replaced it with a second version on March 6. The second incarnation of the executive order halted the refugee resettlement program for 120 days and continued to restrict entry to the United States for individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries, targeting those fleeing the most dire circumstances and limiting entry to the U.S. based on national origin. Despite being rewritten, this new version also provoked legal challenges.
On June 25, 2017, the Supreme Court lifted parts of the injunction that had halted the executive order from going into effect. Individuals that would be affected by the order can enter the country only if they can show a "bona fide relationship" to the United States. Those regulations regarding this change went into effect on June 29. Individuals from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan with "bona fide" relationships could still apply for visas until October 18, 2017, under the second iteration of the travel ban. After that date, the new restrictions on travel, outlined in the third executive order, were planned to begin.
With the announcement of the third travel ban on September 24, the Supreme Court canceled oral arguments on the core legal questions on the order. An announcement on further action in regards to the new executive order has yet to be made. On October 17 and October 18, two judges, one from Hawaii and one from Maryland, blocked the implementation of parts of the most recent version of the ban, and more information on the phase-in process will become available once the court system makes a decision about further steps.
Together, these executive orders not only defy the United States' historical legacy as a land of refuge, but it also specifically targets Muslim-majority countries, reneging on our country’s founding principle of religious freedom.
Our tradition instructs that “the stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Lev. 19:33). This principle of welcoming the stranger is repeated 36 times in the Torah, more than any other commandment. Further, Judaism emphasizes the importance of redeeming the captive (piddyon shevuyim), loving kindness (chesed), and hospitality (hachnasat orchim).
Urge President Trump to rescind this latest discriminatory executive order, and urge your members of Congress to denounce its provisions, including the imposition of a religious test for entry, and urge its immediate repeal. No one should be barred from entering the United States based on race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
For More Information:
Search URJ.org and the other Reform websites: