President Trump signed an executive order Friday to restrict travel from seven countries, among other restrictions. Here’s how executive orders, including this particular order, work.
Executive orders are, by legal definition, presidential policy directives that do not require congressional approval and, though binding, are still subject to legal review.
They are a type of executive action. The president’s power to sign an executive order — and take all executive actions — comes from Article II of the United States Constitution.
Past executive order use
Historically, executive orders have been used to direct federal agencies on their priorities, use of resources, and interpretation of law and policy, not to create new law.
Frequency of executive orders
In the first seven days of his presidency, Trump signed six executive orders and several other executive actions and memorandums. For comparison Barack Obama signed nine executive orders in his first ten days in office and 16 executive orders in January and February in his first year of presidency. Many presidents sign orders and actions frequently at the beginning of their term. Such actions tend to then taper off. Executive order on international travel
Friday’s executive order is titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”
“Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States,” the text of the executive order reads.
“The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.”
Travel ban for seven countries
The order bans all travelers — immigrants and non-immigrants — from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
All U.S. visas belonging to individuals from these countries have been suspended. Anyone originally from these countries who is not currently in the U.S. cannot reenter until this ban is lifted.
The order also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. No refugees from any nation will be allowed to enter the U.S. while this suspension is in place.
Additionally, the order specifically prohibits all refugees from Syria from entering the country indefinitely. It is not clear whether the ban on Syrian refugees will be lifted at any point.
For nations other than Syria the order states when refugee admissions resume priority will be given to members of religions that are a minority in their home country. A Christian refugee from a Muslim-majority nation, for example, would be prioritized to come to the U.S. before a Muslim refugee from that nation.
Visa and immigration screening
The order calls for a more rigorous screening process for potential immigrants to the U.S. It also suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows frequent foreign travelers to the U.S. to avoid an in-person interview for their visa application.
This will lengthen the process for potential immigrants and visa applicants to get permission to enter the U.S.
Data collection on
immigrants and refugees
The order also calls for crime data on refugees, immigrants and other foreign nationals to be regularly collected and made public.
This data would include violence against women, foreign nationals in the U.S. who have been radicalized, terror-related offenses and “any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General” connected to anyone not originally from the U.S.
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