Trump’s new travel ban offers no priority for persecuted religious minorities

Travel ban
New American citizens take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalisation ceremony in Newark, New Jersey, United States, March 1 2017. (PHOTO: Mike Segar)

Originally published in Ecumenical News

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on March 6, amending his controversial January 27 executive order that banned refugee resettlement for seven — now six — Muslim-majority countries.

The new order removed specifications that would have given persecuted religious minorities priority in the State Department’s refugee resettlement procedure.

Many international religious freedom organisations and advocates who called for the prioritisation of persecuted religious minorities were dismayed at the latest development.

Trump’s original immigration directive received global criticism and was the subject of numerous court deliberations and other legal battles. It contained aspects that gave religious minorities special status in the immigration process. The prioritisation detail amassed heavy backlash from opponents after Trump told the CNN News that he signed the directive to prioritise Christian refugees.

While many critics slammed the new order and its subsequent ban on Muslims, a Republican from Michigan expressed his concerns about the latest directive’s restrictive measures.

Facing extinction
According to Detroit Free Press, US Rep Dave Trott stated that, regardless of their religious beliefs, the people of Iraq and Syria are experiencing extreme persecution to the point that “they are facing extinction.”

As one of the sponsors of legislation that would grant special resettlement status to religious minorities from Syria and Iraq, Trott is against the new order.

“Any serious refugee policy coming from the United States has to prioritise religious minorities.” Trott stated. “These minority groups in Iraq and Syria simply have nowhere else to go and are facing complete expulsion.”

According to senior administration authorities, the previous order was never meant to promote non-Muslim refugees over Muslim refugees.

Even though the 120-day blanket ban on refugee resettlement remains in the new order, it does allow refugees who are already screened and vetted for resettlement to enter the United States.

It also prohibits immigration from the following six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Iraq, which was a part of the January 27 order, is not included in the March 6 directive.

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