U.S. President Donald Trump plans to impose an executive order which would ban travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority nations, further restrict refugee access and to heighten visa requirements for an additional 39 nations.
The 30-day ban, attributed to “protecting the nation from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals,” would apply to most citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, as well as non-Americans who’ve traveled to those countries at any point since March of 2011. Tacked onto that, 38 additional nations, including most of Europe, would no longer enjoy visa waivers into the U.S.. And, on top of that, the order would also stop accepting refugees for four months.
On the campaign trail, Trump made no secret about his intentions to ban Muslims from the U.S., and this order is reminiscent of that promise. Ultimately, though, the list of banned countries ignores the most populous Muslim countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Furthermore, the executive order, in its numerous references to the September 11 attacks, doesn’t refuse travel from the country most responsible for those attacks, Saudi Arabia, nor does the order implicate Afghanistan.
The countries in question, though, are listed on among the State Department’s terrorism-sponsoring list (Iran, Sudan and Syria), as well as those designated by the Department of Homeland Security as countries of concern (Libya, Somalia and Yemen). Iraq, on the other hand, had already been listed among barred countries in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorism Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which simply limits travel from countries whose residents normally don’t need a visa to visit—i.e. wealthier countries like France or Germany, etc.—but had previously travelled to countries of concern—e.g. Iraq. Trump’s order uses that list to halt all immigration from those countries outright.
As if the travel ban weren’t enough, the executive order would also place further restrictions on refugees. All refugee applications will be put on hold for this 120-day period and resumed once application procedures have been revised. The only exception is for applications from refugees of “religious minorities”—which probably means Christians in the Middle East. The country will also take in only 50,000 fewer refugees in the coming year, compared to 60,000 last year, and to even further compare into the million Germany took in. Refugee preference, again, will go to “religious minorities.”
So how many people does this affect? Well, it’s difficult to gauge. Because there’s virtually no access to government data about the travel habits of people entering the U.S. from the implicated countries, it’s difficult to estimate the “cost” and subsequent “effect” of the ban. Eleven percent of U.S. jobs are reliant on tourism, according to the U.S. Travel Association, so it’ll almost certainly affect some of those Americans.
In total, roughly 213 million people from the seven banned countries will be impacted, along with an additional 13 million Americans who work in the tourism industry. Factor in the number of tourists who’ve visited any of these countries. Oh, and also factor in the number of tourists simply deterred from visiting due to the increased restrictions. And you have a country, the U.S., further isolating itself from the world and affecting the lives of hundreds of millions in doing so.
Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.