White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Sunday that Obama Administration policies actually shaped Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from Muslim-majority nations. The EO included Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
“These seven countries were identified by the Obama Administration as needing further travel scrutiny,” he said on This Week.
Under Obama, the Department of Homeland Security put these nations on a list of “countries of concern” when restricting access to the Visa Waiver Program Involvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. This law allowed certain non-Americans to come to the states for up to 90 days without needing a visa.
“Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP),” said a January, 2016 press release, later adding, “Any traveler who receives notification that they are no longer eligible to travel under the VWP are still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate. Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the United States.” People could also apply using the “regular immigration process.”
Trump’s executive order, issued Friday, institutes a 90-day ban on citizens from these seven nations (indefinite in the case of Syria), and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. It affected people who already had visas, unless those were handed out for diplomatic purposes (eg. the United Nations). A federal judge in New York City put a partial stay on this shortly after the fact, saying the order won’t affect people who were already in transit and had visas. For more on that, click here to see LawNewz.com’s Rachel Stockman break down the partial stay of Trump’s executive order.
[h/t The Hill]