Photograph — AP Photo? Nati Harnik

In the wake of a brazen call for an all-encompassing immigration law to ultimately keep Americans safe during his address to the congress last week, Donald Trump has announced an upgraded set of immigration laws. The new laws toeing the path of his congress address have a subdued aggression compared to the earlier laws released about six weeks ago

In the document released on Monday, Iraq has now been taken off the list of seven countries whose citizens are banned from entering the United States. The White House explained that the decision was arrived at after improved collaborations between the two countries that will allow for serious and improved vetting of Iraqis seeking to go into the US. Citizens of Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya, however, remain banned from entering the US for a period of 90 days while the US government put necessary control and vetting measures in place.

Aside from these six countries, the new immigration law further explains that any citizen of such countries as deemed a state sponsor of terror or a “country of concern” by the State Department of Security or Department of Homeland Security are subject to the ban.

In what appears to be a subtle correction of some of the fundamental flaws that gathered worldwide outrage following the first release of the immigration law, the new law has now removed the former clause which gives priority to Syrian refugees belonging to religious minority groups should there be a case for admittance. A move that was interpreted to be targeted at Muslims. The law which will come into effect on March 16th still places the earlier temporary ban on admission of refugees into the United States for 120 days.

Green card holders who were denied entry and placed under surveillance under the last immigration law (before the suspension by the court order) would now be excused from vetting processes before coming and leaving the US. The revised law significantly excused permanent residents or green card irrespective of their backgrounds from any of the aforementioned vetting processes. Foreign nationals who are paroled in the US or those who are granted asylum or withholding of removal, or travelling for diplomatic purposes are also exempted from the stinging vetting processes and ban. Students, workers, and people needing medical emergency from other countries are also granted waivers from the immigration rules.

Despite the removal of Iraq from the list of banned countries, its citizens are not exempted from the vetting processes. As a matter of fact, upon application for a U.S visa, such Iraqi national will be subjected to thorough investigation and background check which may include contacting the Iraqi government for additional information.

A part deemed fundamentally flawed however remains in the document. While any admittance of a Syrian refugee at the expiration of the ban will no longer have religion as one of the yardsticks, the bulk of the immigration law still remains as it was, and lacking detailed explanation.

If the ban or exclusion of citizens from these six countries and some other unnamed ones is based on a perceived intention these foreign nationals to harm US citizens, how are the intentions determined or measured? Does it necessarily mean every person from those areas carries an innate desire to harm the US community? Does it now mean the enforcement of this law will make America immune to terrorists? What about home-grown or self-radicalised Americans? How does this law solve the problem of homegrown terrorism? Are the laws really there to curb terrorism or only in furtherance of the extreme nationalistic tendencies, fuelled by baseless paranoia, of the Trump administration?

These questions basically put in a better view the comment of a US member of the House of representatives who remarks of the revised immigration laws: “the fundamental flaws are still present.”


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