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Women doing laundry in Tanzania, one of the countries affected by Trump’s ban.
The ban on nationals entering the United States from several Muslim-majority countries was a “stain on our national conscience” and “inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all,” Biden’s new order states.
President Joe Biden didn’t waste any time dismantling several of former President Donald Trump’s executive actions, including a controversial travel ban: Among the 17 executive orders Biden signed on January 20, just hours after his inauguration, was a proclamation rescinding the travel ban, which barred nationals from 13 countries, many of them with a Muslim majority.
The initial ban was first introduced by Trump in a January 2017 executive order. The order, entitled Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States, was narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court in a 2018 ruling. The ban restricted nationals from five Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen—as well as North Korean and Venezuelan nationals, from traveling to the United States, with some exceptions. In January 2020, Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Sudan were added to the list, each with a unique set of rules and exceptions.
The order was upheld on the basis of a provision within the Immigration and Nationality Act, enacted in 1952, which gives the president the authority to suspend the entry of foreigners into the country if the president deems their entry is detrimental to the country’s interests. The travel ban, which coloquially became known as the Muslim travel ban, was met by numerous challenges from groups such as the National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who decried it as discriminatory and unconstitutional. As it turns out, the Biden administration agrees.
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“The United States was built on a foundation of religious freedom and tolerance, a principle enshrined in the United States Constitution,” states the Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States, signed by President Biden on January 20 and effective immediately.
“Nevertheless, the previous administration enacted a number of executive orders and presidential proclamations that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States—those actions are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all,” the proclamation continues.
According to the new order, such bans compromise the United States’ allegiances with other countries and undermine the country’s national security.
Biden’s order states that the new administration will continue to address potential threats to the nation and will strengthen information-sharing with partners, “but we will not turn our backs on our values with discriminatory bans on entry into the United States.”
In rescinding the travel ban, President Biden “has helped our nation take an important step in reclaiming our role as a beacon of hope for all seeking a better life,” Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said in a statement.
Immigration rights advocates aren’t the only ones applauding the move. Some in the travel industry are hopeful that actions such as this will help paint the United States as a more accepting and inviting nation rather than a xenophobic one.
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In a November interview with AFAR following the presidential election, Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of travel market research firm Atmosphere Research, said he felt encouraged by the doors Biden could potentially reopen for travelers with such initiatives. Said Harteveldt, the Biden administration taking actions such as the revocation of the travel ban, “make the U.S. a more welcoming destination for international visitors.”
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