New Travel Ban Doesn't Give Exemption For Christians Suffering Genocide

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Mar 07, 2017 2:30 PM
New Travel Ban Doesn't Give Exemption For Christians Suffering Genocide

Yesterday the White House released a new executive order banning all refugees and visa holders from six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Unfortunately the new order, unlike the previous version, doesn't give special exemptions to minority religious groups facing genocide in the countries listed. This likely was done in order to avoid another court challenge over religious preference, even though religious persecution is a consideration for expedited refugee status. 

That being said, waivers are being offered on a case by case basis. From the order:

(c)  Waivers.  Notwithstanding the suspension of entry pursuant to section 2 of this order, a consular officer, or, as appropriate, the Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or the Commissioner's delegee, may, in the consular officer's or the CBP official's discretion, decide on a case-by-case basis to authorize the issuance of a visa to, or to permit the entry of, a foreign national for whom entry is otherwise suspended if the foreign national has demonstrated to the officer's satisfaction that denying entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship, and that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest.  Unless otherwise specified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, any waiver issued by a consular officer as part of the visa issuance process will be effective both for the issuance of a visa and any subsequent entry on that visa, but will leave all other requirements for admission or entry unchanged. 

According to the State Department Christians and other religious minority groups, like the Yazidis, are under genocide in two countries on the executive order list. They aren't under genocide in the others because their populations no longer exist in those countries.

Previously the White House said it was important to President Trump that persecuted Christians receive asylum. 

"It's important to the president, it was during and throughout the campaign. It's something he addressed this morning and it's something he's committed to in terms of allowing Christian minorities in key countries to seek asylum in the United States," Press Secretary Sean Spicer said last month. "He recognizes that in so many nations, these are the oppressed groups in accordance with how the U.N. defines refugees."

Groups that worked to get the official genocide declaration last year are certainly paying attention.

"As part of the 120-day review of refugee admission procedures, the UNHCR referral process for refugees should be closely scrutinized and the serious inequities in the number of Syrian refugees admitted from communities targeted for genocide should be rectified. The Obama administration's policy was to prioritize these groups. Despite this, they remained severely underrepresented in U.S. refugee admissions, so it is clear that a fair outcome is even more important than a stated priority," Knights of Columbus Vice President Andrew Walther said in a statement to Townhall. "Both in immigration and in aid, communities targeted for genocide should not be at the end of the line. I am told by senior Church officials in Iraq that there has been a new openness from American officials in the last couple of months to helping those communities that have until now received no aid from the U.S. government or the UN.  We applaud this, and look forward to this openness becoming concrete action that leaves no community behind, especially if it was targeted for genocide."