Suspend immigration from terror-prone places

“And if people don't like it, we've got to have a country folks. Got to have a country. Countries in which immigration will be suspended would include places like Syria and Libya. And we are going to stop the tens of thousands of people coming in from Syria.”


PolitiFact is tracking the promises of President Donald Trump. See them all at


4th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds block on Trump’s travel ban

A federal appeals court on May 25th kept in place a block on President Donald Trump's executive order seeking to temporarily suspend the entry of nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries.

In a 10-3 decision, judges in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower district court's decision to halt parts of Trump's March 6 executive order. The order intended to temporarily stop the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Trump's directive has been challenged for numerous claims, including that it violates constitutional protections against discrimination.

While Congress gives the president broad power to deny entry to immigrants, "that power is not absolute," Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote in an opinion for the court. 

"It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation," Gregory wrote. 

Trump's executive order "in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination," the ruling from the Richmond, Va.-based court said. 

Judges took into consideration presidential campaign statements made by Trump regarding a "Muslim ban."

The Justice Department "strongly disagrees" with the decision and plans to escalate the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement May 25.

Three judges dissented, including Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who wrote that considering Trump's campaign statements is "unprecedented and unworkable." 

Separately, a decision is pending from another case in the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judges there are reviewing a decision from a lower court which also halted Trump's executive order.

In light of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirming the block on Trump's executive order, we continue to rate Trump' promise to suspend immigration from terror-prone places as Stalled.


4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on President Donald Trump's executive order, May 25, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' statement on 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, May 25, 2017

White House, Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States, March 6, 2017

Federal judge blocks Trump’s revised travel ban

President Donald Trump's second attempt to suspend travel from countries in the Middle East and Africa has been blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii, shortly before becoming effective.

The State of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh challenged Trump's new March 6 executive order, seeking a nationwide temporary restraining order to prohibit the implementation of sections of Trump's order.

According to the lawsuit, Elshikh is a Hawaii resident and American citizen of Egyptian descent, whose mother-in-law, a Muslim and Syrian national without a visa, would be prevented in the short-term from coming to the United States under a section of Trump's order, unless granted a waiver.

On March 15, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson granted the temporary restraining order.

The court concluded that the plaintiffs "have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim, that irreparable injury is likely if the requested relief is not issued, and that the balance of the equities and public interest counsel in favor of granting the requested relief."

Trump's executive order was scheduled to take effect March 16.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs say that to single out nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries––Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen––Trump's order "causes harm by stigmatizing not only immigrants and refugees, but also Muslim citizens of the United States."

The State of Hawaii and Elshikh also noted comments made by Trump, his close supporters and advisors, such as:

- Trump's false claim that if you're from Syria and you're a Christian, you cannot come into he United States;

Rudy Giuliani's comments to Fox News saying Trump called him asking to put together a commission to "legally" do a Muslim ban;

Stephen Miller's comments to Fox News that the new order would "have the same basic policy outcome for the country."

The plaintiffs also claim Trump's executive order subjects portions of Hawaii's population to discrimination and denies them their right "to associate with family members overseas on the basis of their religion and national origin."

Elshikh, Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii and a leader within Hawaii's Islamic community, also believes that he and other Muslims will not be able to "associate as freely with those of other faiths" because of the new executive order.

"This is a major setback for President Trump," said Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr. "The travel ban litigation will continue for a long time, and could reach the Supreme Court."

Trump's promise to suspend immigration from terror-prone places has once again been blocked by courts. We rate this promise Stalled.


U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, Order granting motion for temporary restraining order, March 15, 2017

Email interview, Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr, March 15, 2017


Trump signs new executive order replacing directive challenged by courts

President Donald Trump has revoked and replaced an executive order related to the admission of nationals from countries in the Middle East and Africa.

The new executive order dated March 6 — bearing the same title as a Jan. 27 order, "Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States" — stops the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days "subject to categorical exceptions and case-by-case waivers."

Trump's new order does not extend to Iraqi nationals, as the previous one did, due to close cooperation between the United States and Iraqi governments, Trump administration officials said.

"The Iraqi government has expressly undertaken steps to enhance travel documentation, information sharing, and the return of Iraqi nationals subject to final orders of removal," the executive order said. "Decisions about issuance of visas or granting admission to Iraqi nationals should be subjected to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants have connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations, or otherwise pose a risk to either national security or public safety."

The order also suspends for 120 days entry under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, but unlike the previous order, does not single out Syrian refugees for indefinite admission. An overview on the old and revised executive orders is available here.

Trump's order lists specific reasons why nationals from the six countries will be temporarily banned from entering the country. Iran, Sudan and Syria make the list because they are designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Libya is on the list because it is an active combat zone with extremist groups expanding within the country. Somalia is on the list because portions of the country "have been terrorist safe havens" and "most countries do not recognize Somali identity documents." Trump officials list Yemen because of ongoing internal conflict and because terrorist groups have expanded their presence within the country.

"In light of the conditions in these six countries, until the assessment of current screening and vetting procedures required by section 2 of this order is completed, the risk of erroneously permitting entry of a national of one of these countries who intends to commit terrorist acts or otherwise harm the national security of the United States is unacceptably high," the March 6 order said.

Trump's new order comes in response to court challenges. Does the new one resolve previous challenges?

"The revised executive order will not quell litigation or concerns," said Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr. "U.S. relatives will still sue over the inability of their loved ones to join them in the United States. U.S. companies may sue because they cannot hire needed workers from the six countries. And U.S. universities will worry about the impact of the order on international students' willingness to attend college in the United States. In sum, the immigration controversy will continue."

Trump's new executive order becomes effective March 16.

With Trump again seeking to suspend immigration from terror-prone places, we rate this promise In the Works.


White House, Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States, March 6, 2017

Email interview, Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr, March 6, 2017

PolitiFact, Trump's travel ban executive order, take 2, March 6, 2017

Courts currently blocking Trump’s executive order

Courts have blocked the implementation of President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily suspending the entry into the United States of refugees and travelers from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Trump said his executive order was created to "protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States."

However, several states challenged the order, claiming it violates religious liberties guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Many immigrant rights activists and Democratic lawmakers also called the order a Muslim ban because it focused on Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.)

On Feb. 1, Washington and Minnesota filed a lawsuit in district court contending that Trump's order separated families, harmed thousands of the state residents, damaged their economies and undermined the states' "sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees."

On Feb. 3, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart, in Seattle, granted a nationwide temporary restraining order on Trump's order, favoring Minnesota and Washington states. Robart's decision concluded that there would be more harm in allowing the ban to continue then to block it.

After Robart's ruling, Trump tweeted: "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"

Trump's Justice Department filed a motion appealing the district court's decision and seeking to resume the travel ban.

"The injunction immediately harms the public by thwarting enforcement of an Executive Order issued by the president, based on his national security judgment," the motion said. "As the President acted well within both statutory and constitutional authorization, the relief irreparably harms our system of government by contravening the Constitution's separation of powers."

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the motion. But it asked both the states and the Justice Department for briefs in support and opposition for the emergency motion. On Feb. 9, in a 3-0 decision the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Seattle judge's decision to halt Trump's order nationwide.

That prompted another Trump tweet: "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!"

On Feb. 12, Trump tweeted that 72 percent of refugees admitted into United States between Feb. 3 and Feb. 11 were from the seven countries outlined in his executive order. We rated that Mostly True.

The Trump administration has since said it plans to introduce a new executive order.

On Feb. 19, John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said Trump was "contemplating releasing a tighter, more streamlined version" of the initial executive order.

At this point, the order may be appealed to the Supreme Court, or the Trump administration may soon release a new executive order designed to address the courts' concerns. Given the court's halt of Trump's executive order, however, we rate this promise Stalled.


White House, executive order signed Jan. 27, 2017

Reuters, Challenges to Trump's immigration orders spread to more U.S. states, Feb. 1, 2017

Washington Post, DHS secretary: Trump administration considering 'more streamlined' version of travel ban, Feb. 19, 2017

PunditFact, No, the 9th Circuit isn't the 'most overturned court in the country,' as Hannity says, Feb. 10, 2017

PolitiFact, Is Donald Trump's executive order a 'Muslim ban'?, Feb. 3, 2017

Seattle Times, Judge in Seattle halts Trump's immigration order nationwide; White House vows fight, updated Feb. 4,2 017

Washington Post, Federal appeals court rules 3 to 0 against Trump on travel ban, Feb. 9, 2017

PolitiFact, President Trump says 109 people were affected by travel ban. It's at least 60,000, Feb. 6, 2017

NPR, Who Is Judge James L. Robart And Why Did He Block Trump's Immigration Order?, Feb. 4, 2017

Trump signs executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven countries

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Jan. 27 temporarily halting the entry into the United States of people from seven countries impacted by terrorism.

The order suspended immigration for 90 days for nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Trump also paused admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely stopped the entry of refugees from Syria, where years of civil war has reportedly killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions.

The executive order classified Syrian refugees as detrimental to the national interest. Trump said he would suspend their entry until he has determined that sufficient changes have been made to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

Trump's action spurred protests at airports across the nation rallying in support of immigrants and refugees. Chaos and confusion also unfolded regarding the implementation of Trump's order, with immigration and civil liberties lawyers fighting for the release of individuals who had been detained upon arrival to the United States. A federal judge in New York ruled a stay on part of Trump's order to prevent the deportation of people who had just landed in the United States.

Trump's order said the "visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States," referencing the 9/11 terrorist attack perpetrators who came to the United States through visas.

A notice posted on the State Department's website Jan. 27 said it had stopped issuing visas to nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen until further notice.

But some scholars and ethics experts quickly pointed out that Trump's travel ban does not extend to other countries whose citizens have attacked Americans, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. And it also leaves out places where the Trump company has business dealings.

Some of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A woman from Pakistan and her U.S.-born husband killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015.

"Those countries are harder to push around," the New York Times reported Jan. 27. "Pakistan has nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia is a major source of oil, and the United Arab Emirates is a major source of investment. Mr. Trump's company has a golf club in Dubai and holdings related to a possible hotel venture in Saudi Arabia."

Citing terrorism concerns, the State Department has recently issued warnings and alerts for travel to Europe, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and several other nations not mentioned in Trump's executive order.

Back in June 2016, Trump promised: "When I'm elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats."

Trump's action suspends immigration from some terror-prone nations, but is not all inclusive. Until Trump uniformly suspends immigration from all terror-prone countries, we rate this promise In the Works.


State Department, travel warnings and alerts

The New York Times, Fears That Trump's Visa Ban Betrays Friends and Bolsters Enemies, Jan. 27, 2017, 9/11 Hijackers and Student Visas, May 10, 2013

PolitiFact, Trump's immigration ban: 4 key questions answered, Jan. 29, 2017

PolitiFact, Context is crucial in defining how many countries now harbor ISIS, Oct. 24, 2016

New York Times, Full Executive Order Text: Trump's Action Limiting Refugees Into the U.S., Jan. 27, 2017

New York Times, Who Hasn't Trump Banned? People From Places Where He's Done Business, Jan. 29, 2017

NPR, How Does Trump's Immigration Freeze Square With His Business Interests?, Jan. 28, 2017

United Nations, Syrian Arab Republic

The New York Times, Death Toll From War in Syria Now 470,000, Group Finds, Feb. 11, 2016

State Department, Urgent Notice: Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, Jan. 27, 2017

CNN, How many fatal terror attacks have refugees carried out in the US? None, Jan. 29, 2017

CNBC, Trump: If elected, I'll ban immigration from areas with terrorism ties, June 13, 2016

Suspend immigration from terror-prone places

When campaigning for the White House, Donald Trump raised concerns about people coming to the United States from parts of the world impacted by terrorism.

He challenged the United States' ability to vet who comes into the country, describing the immigration system as "dysfunctional" and claiming it fails to protect the citizenry.

A Trump administration, he said, would exercise "extreme vetting," especially from war-torn Syria.

"I want extreme. It's going to be so tough, and if somebody comes in that's fine, but they're going to be good. It's extreme," Trump said in Phoenix in August 2016. "And if people don't like it, we've got to have a country folks. Got to have a country. Countries in which immigration will be suspended would include places like Syria and Libya. And we are going to stop the tens of thousands of people coming in from Syria."


In response to terrorism attacks and threats across the world and on U.S. soil, Trump said the United States needs to toughen its admissions process.

Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims coming into the country a few days after a husband and wife — the man, a U.S. citizen born to Pakistani parents, and the woman, an immigrant from Pakistan — killed 14 people and injured 22 others in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015.

He reaffirmed this stance after another terrorist attack in an Orlando nightclub in June 2016, when a U.S. citizen born to Afghan parents killed 49 people and wounded more than 50.

"I called for a ban after San Bernardino, and was met with great scorn and anger but now, many are saying I was right to do so — and although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on," Trump said on June 13, 2016. "The ban will be lifted when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country."


Trump said he would ask the Homeland Security, Justice and State departments to list "regions and countries from which immigration must be suspended until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put in place."

His administration would stop issuing visas to people in places "where adequate screening cannot occur," he said.

Section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the president to "suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate," whenever the president finds that their entry "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States."

During the campaign, Trump particularly criticized the arrival of Syrian refugees, but refugees do not get visas to come to the United States. They undergo a different vetting and paperwork process.

Still, Trump as president will have the legal authority to limit refugee admissions.

Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act says the president shall determine the number of refugees who may be admitted per fiscal year. The president is to make such decision before the start of a fiscal year and after consulting the House and Senate judiciary committees.


Trump has not outlined cost estimates for this promise. In a CBS Face the Nation interview in October 2015, Trump said he would offer financial support to create a safe zone in Syria for people afflicted by war, instead of letting them come into the United States.

"I would help them economically, even though we owe $19 trillion," Trump said Oct. 11, 2015, not specifying the extent of that help. "What I won't do is take in 200,000 Syrians who could be ISIS."


Legally, Trump has the authority to limit and suspend admissions of foreigners into the United States.

"Whether such a broad use of that statutory power would be wise is another question," said Stephen Legomsky, professor emeritus at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and a former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "All immigrants to the United States are already checked against an array of intelligence and law enforcement databases. The procedures for screening overseas refugees — the main focus of Mr. Trump's remarks — are especially rigorous and contain additional safeguards in the case of Syrians."

Refugee vetting also already takes one to two years.

"This point is often lost, as some people wrongly point to European terrorism as evidence that refugees pose similar risks in the United States," Legomsky said. "The difference is that the millions of refugees who have arrived in Europe from Africa and the Middle East have traveled by land or by sea without any previous vetting; because of the geographic differences, the refugees whom the U.S. admits from overseas are rigorously vetted before they set foot in the United States."


Provisions under the Immigration and Nationality Act would allow Trump to legally bar the admission of all nationals of Syria or any other country immediately after taking office and without further congressional action, Legomsky said.


A campaign rally in Phoenix