Jan 28

AILA Talking Points on Executive Order Banning Muslims/Refugees


90 day suspension of visas/immigration benefits for individuals from predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen)

Pure and simple, President Trump’s draft executive order is a thinly veiled effort to ban and scapegoat Muslims and will not make America safer.Banning people based solely on the country they are from is ineffective and overreaching. We should focus our attention on people for whom we have actual grounds for concern or suspicion.President Trump has ignored the research and data, basing these policies on a combination of an unfounded fear, debunked information, and xenophobic pressures.The Executive Order will harm US families. These families are waiting for their husbands, wives, children, mothers, and fathers to complete the already-lengthy immigration process. It means that intending immigrants and their US families will have to remain abroad longer, often in dangerous situations.A 90-day suspension of visas will balloon processing times and disrupt the operation of U.S. businesses that rely on such applicants. Some industries will be particularly impacted, such as the medical industry. We may see even greater shortages of nurses and doctors, for example.A suspension of visa and immigration benefits based solely on national origin will create a strain on diplomatic relations with those countries; creating further challenges when cooperation with these countries is necessary to perform security screening on these individuals.


Suspension of the refugee program for 120 days to determine which nationalities pose the least risk and suspends the Syrian refugee program indefinitely

President Trump has ignored the research and data, basing these policies on a combination of an unfounded fear of refugees, debunked information, and xenophobic pressures.Refugees are already the most stringently vetted group of immigrants, people who are fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children.Shuttering more than half of our refugee program in a time of great need is the wrong thing to do.The refugee program wasn’t even suspended this long after September 11, 2001. After 9/11, President George W. Bush paused refugee admissions for less than 3 months. This suspends refugee admissions for 4 months.None of the 9/11 hijackers were refugees.A ban on refugees would not make America safer. Refugees from Syria already go through a 21-step screening process that takes 18-24 months. The head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Congress in September 2016 that not a single act of actual terrorist violence has been a committed by a refugee since 9/11.Countries benefit economically from refugees because they fill gaps in the labor market and have a dynamic impact on investment and productivity growth.These executive orders sends the wrong message to the world. We are in the middle of the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Closing our doors to others would only fuel anti-American sentiment worldwide.


Suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program

Suspending the Visa Interview Waiver Program will balloon already lengthy interview backlogs at embassies. It wastes resources, burdens overtaxed embassies, and decreases the quality of consular interviews.The program benefits the US by allowing government employees to focus their resources on cases that need interviews. Only low risk travelers who have already been vetted by the government qualify: for example, the very elderly, very young, or individuals who have demonstrated a track record of stable employment, stable travel, and/or a previous determination of low security risk.


Suspending the Program Harms US Consulates and Embassies

Getting rid of the program will require that embassies with already scarce resources interview every applicant, instead of focusing their resources on higher risk categories or new cases where eligibility or security may be more of a concern. This will decrease efficiency and lower the quality of interviews, particularly for high volume posts like India.At a time when the Trump Administration is seeking to reduce the size of the federal workforce, this requirement will require hiring more consular officers or taking a large portion of those offices away from their other duties. Either way, consular function and services will be impeded, without the promise of increased security in return.Expanding the Consular Fellows Program is not a quick fix to these obstacles. Despite the expansion of the Consular Fellows Program, Consular Fellows must be hired, trained (including language training in some cases), and obtain security/country-specific clearances. In addition to the fact that these Fellows will be inexperienced, it will take a significant amount of time and resources to place them at consular posts.


The lives of foreign nationals that live, work, and contribute to the US will be disrupted

This change will require travelers to plan travel far in advance and create the inability to return to work for an extended period when travel is required on short notice.


Foreign and diplomatic relations will be strained

Imposing additional visa application burdens on foreign nationals invites reciprocal requirements being imposed by foreign governments, and could end up restricting the ability of American citizens to travel abroad for business or tourism.


US employers and the US economy will be harmed

Imposing additional visa application burdens will impede tourism and business travel to the US, hurting both the tourism industry and the US economy.Lengthy waits for interviews will make it very difficult for U.S. businesses to be flexible, respond quickly, or even plan ahead – hindering their ability to create jobs and help build the economy.Some foreign businesses and tourists may be less willing to visit or do business in the U.S. at all.


Implementation of additional screening standards, including: an individual’s likelihood of becoming a positive contributing member of society, the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest, and whether the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering

This type of additional screening will result in significant backlogs at USCIS offices across the country, consular processing backlogs, and crowding of secondary inspection sites at U.S. Customs and Border Protection locations, stifling the business and economic contributions of those seeking to come to the U.S. This kind of screening will be time intensive and will require an enormous investment in government resources, and because it is based on the impossible task of trying to read what is in people’s hearts it will simply be used as way to screen people based on stereotypes and prejudices.In response to 9/11, the government greatly expanded its system for vetting visa applicants. These additional screening standards would duplicate investigations that are already happening, wasting taxpayer money.Based on an initial reading, many of the proposed restriction aren’t even legal. Some appear to be additional grounds of inadmissibility, which can only be made by Congress.


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