President Biden signed several executive actions on his first day in office – one of those rescinds the so-called Muslim travel ban.
In January 2017, former President Donald Trump banned foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Numerous legal battles and other versions of the travel ban followed. The Trump administration removed Iraq from the list, for example, but added other countries, including North Korea and Venezuela.
The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the ban in 2018, and last year, several African countries were added to the list, including Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.
Nabila Mansoor, who’s with EmgageUSA in Houston, a Muslim American advocacy group, said the ban tore families apart. One of her friends is a permanent legal resident in the U.S., but couldn’t visit her parents in Sudan. They also couldn’t visit her.
“Because of this ban, their attorneys and everyone said, ‘Look it is not a good idea for you to visit Sudan right now, because we cannot guarantee that you will be allowed back into the country,’ ” Mansoor said. “People have lost loved ones in countries that were under the Muslim ban and were not able to visit and go there for funerals, for milestones, for birthdays.”
The new executive order states it “provides for the strengthening of screening and vetting for travelers by enhancing information sharing with foreign governments.” Plans also call for reviewing the Trump Administration’s vetting practices.
Mansoor said the Trump administration’s initial travel ban and iterations of it were part of a larger problem of singling out people based on religion or where they’re from.
“This ban was totally against the values and principles that govern our country,” she said. “This ban really put in place in order to appease an Islamophobic rhetoric that we had seen over and over in the last administration.”