On Friday, President Donald Trump signed one of his most controversial executive actions to date: an order that temporarily suspended the immigration of refugees and nationals from seven primarily Muslim countries.
Although several Trump administration officials — and the president himself — have insisted more than once that the action is not a “Muslim ban,” multiple media outlets have insisted on referring to the action as such.
The New York Times
The Huffington Post
So IJR took an in-depth look at the order and this is what we found.
The order currently affects seven nations — but includes provisions for other nations to be added to the list, should advisors determine that to be the best course of action. And those nations, though primarily Muslim, are not completely so.
From the CIA’s World Factbook:
Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 est.)
Muslim (official) 99% (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian 0.8%, Hindu <0.1, Buddhist <0.1, Jewish <0.1, folk religion <0.1, unafilliated 0.1, other <0.1
Muslim (official; virtually all Sunni) 96.6%, Christian 2.7%, Buddhist 0.3%, Hindu <0.1, Jewish <0.1, folk religion <0.1, unafilliated 0.2%, other <0.1
Somalia (no percentages included):
Sunni Muslim (Islam) (official, according to the Transitional Federal Charter)
Sunni Muslim, small Christian minority
Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo)
Muslim 99.1% (official; virtually all are citizens, an estimated 65% are Sunni and 35% are Shia), other 0.9% (includes Jewish, Baha’i, Hindu, and Christian; many are refugees or temporary foreign residents)
Given that information, while most of those banned from immigration may identify as Muslim, the ban certainly affects a number of those who are not Muslim.
In addition, there are a number of exceptions that apply to foreign nationals from the affected countries. Foreign nationals with the following types of visas will still be allowed to travel freely:
- Diplomatic visas
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas
- C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations (limited to 29 days)
- G-1 International organization employee visas
- G-2 International organization employee visas
- G-3 International organization employee visas
- G-4 International organization employee visas
Finally, additional exceptions can be made in accordance with the order:
The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.
The order, which suspends immigration from the seven countries listed above for 120 days and suspends the admission of refugees for 90 days, is designed to be temporary and is supposed to give the new administration time to evaluate possible holes in the system and implement a more effective vetting process.
As National Review puts it:
So, what did Trump do? Did he implement his promised Muslim ban? No, far from it. He backed down dramatically from his campaign promises and instead signed an executive order dominated mainly by moderate refugee restrictions and temporary provisions aimed directly at limiting immigration from jihadist conflict zones.
And the Washington Examiner puts it:
The motivation for the ruling was clearly Islamic terrorism, and the first generation of this idea was Trump’s idea to ban Muslims from entering the country. Every country listed in that 2015/2016 law is a Muslim-majority country.
But the order will stop immigrants from every religion. Anybody of any religion coming from these seven countries is barred for 90 days. Any refugee coming from anywhere — so this could be Buddhists, Jews, Atheists — are barred. Syrian refugees of any religion are barred indefinitely. The largest Muslim countries — such as Indonesia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia — are not covered in the 90-day ban.
IN SHORT: It is irresponsible and misleading to call Trump’s order a “Muslim Ban.”