Bob Shire's Political Update Mark 1

Bob Shire

I went to look for the full text of the President's executive order related to refugees issued on Friday that has been (appropriately, given both the content and implementation challenges) causing some reaction and consternation all weekend. However, this executive order is not on the White House website, and the archive.org Wayback Machine suggests it has never been there. Fortunately, some good folks on Reddit (which I do not frequent, but perhaps should) found a different official source at the virtual U.S. Embassy to Iran. https://ir.usembassy.gov/protecting-nation-foreign-terrori…/

Many of us know about the headline content, but there are a few other items included that I have not heard about much in the news discussion. Looking at source documents is usually valuable for such discoveries, and I encourage it.

The order includes a provision requiring the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to review information supplied by other countries and provide "the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information..." and "the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment." I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice or an official interpretation of law, but it appears the Administration has left itself the opportunity to include many more countries on this list after the 30-day review, assuming it is completed.

The Homeland Security Secretary shall also work with the FBI, State Department, and the Director of National Intelligence, to implement (not explore, but implement) a program "as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits" which will include, among other things, "a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest...." While vague, potentially innocuous, and in line with the "extreme vetting" discussed on the campaign trail, the details of this program should be watched, as this particular facet of the program uses very subjective terminology.

As with many items in this order, it appears the suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program may be extended beyond 120 days unless determined "additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States" by the Homeland Security and State Secretaries and the Director of National Intelligence. Syrian refugees are singled out as permanently banned until otherwise indicated by the President.

Religious persecution is singled out as a reason to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis. ("...including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution...")

"The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States." I do not know the nature of this program up until this point, but it appears the Trump Administration considers it a priority.

There is also a bit of a threat to foreign governments that might change their attitudes toward U.S. Visa holders (although this language may be typical; I do not know nearly enough immigration law to be certain): "If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of United States nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable."

Finally, there are some very interesting components regarding transparency. Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security is required to publicly report every 180 days on:

"information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later;"

and

"information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and"

"information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later...."

Personally, I see no reason to single out foreign nationals here. If we are going to make information public regarding crimes committed against women and domestic radicalization, I see no reason to not include information regarding natural born citizens and any others.