Show this to people who say Obama started the 'Muslim' travel ban

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Monday 30 January 2017 17:00
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Picture:(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The countries in Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ were 'chosen' by the Obama Administration

The seven nations from which travel to the US has been temporarily suspended by President Donald Trump, were first outlined as 'countries of concern' by the US Congress in 2015.

Restrictions on their citizens' access to a visa waiver programme were part of a law signed by President Obama in December 2015.

Conservatives have used this to argue against critics of the bill, as if the hand holding the pen was what protestors at JFK airport had a problem with.

Yet the origins of Trump's ban on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen are less easily pinned on President Obama than some suggest.

The Visa Waiver Program

The ‘Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act’ was part of a larger spending bill.

The act restricted the access to the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens from 38 countries to visit the US without a visa, so long as their visit is shorter than 90 days.

The UK is one such country among the 38 whose citizens are entitled to the waiver.

The 'improvement' and 'prevention' act

The act began in the Republican controlled House of Representatives, and was passed with the support of both Republicans and Democrats.

It was passed as part of a 2015 appropriations act that authorised spending in several areas.

Under the act, foreign visitors who had visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, or, Sudan since March 2011 or held dual citizenship from one of those countries were denied access to the waiver programme.

Persons who had visited Libya, Somalia, and Yemen in the preceding five years were added to the list in February 2016.

Dual citizens from these three countries were allowed continued access to the waiver program.

These seven nations are the 'countries of concern' named in the law, and are also those whose citizens are subjected to President Trump's executive action.

How this differs from President Trump's ban

While it could be argued that President Trump is simply extending an action take by his predecessor, the two policies are distinct.

The act signed by President Obama only affected people who had been eligible for the programme, and not all citizens from the list of seven.

They are two distinct actions, and the proportion of America's response to perceived threats is at the discretion of the president.

HT Mic and BBC

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