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In late February, The U.S. State Department released data on President Donald Trump’s “travel ban,” revealing that the department had denied over 37,000 visas in 2018. According to an article published by Reuters, the report reveals an 80% increase in visa denial for residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen since 2016. The executive order reflects an increasing acceptance of Islamophobia and xenophobia in American society, which sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the world. The increasing level of nationalism and separation in worldwide politics makes international conflict resolution significantly more challenging, as a lack of understanding and interaction between nations is dangerous for global stability.
Many high-level legal experts have expressed criticisms of the travel ban and its effects on world politics. Neal Katyal, arguing against the travel ban in the Supreme Court, referred to the ban as an “atrocious policy [that] makes us less sage and undermines our American ideals.” Likewise, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissenting opinion, stated that the policy was “motivated by anti-Muslim animus” and compared it to Japanese internment during World War II.
Ever since the ban had ultimately been upheld by the Supreme Court, it has severely limited the number of people who are allowed to enter the state. Individuals who hope to come to the U.S. to reunite with family, find work, or go on a vacation must now rely on an overly strict and complicated waiver approval process. Diala Shamas, lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated that “thousands or millions of people’s lives now depend on this waiver process. It’s become their only hope.”
The travel ban is unnecessary, and it has had no effect on reducing terrorism in the U.S. The ban had been made with the intention of preventing terrorist attacks on American soil, but according to a CNN report on the global terrorism, there have only been two extremist violence attacks in the U.S. since 2016, and only one of them had been carried out by an Islamic extremist group.
According to a report published in The Atlantic, the people living in countries affected by the ban are far more likely to be victims of extremist violence. Additionally, the ban indicates increases hostility between white nationalists and the people they believe pose a threat to their safety because of their nationality. It promotes the idea that Islamophobia and xenophobia are central to the American identity, setting a dangerous precedent for other countries around the world. The increasing promotion of nationalism reflected in the order is similarly concerning. This rhetoric serves to separate the U.S. from the rest of the world, diminishing opportunity for future diplomatic negotiation and it significantly more challenging.
While campaigning for president in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump pledged to ensure “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The 2017 Executive Order on Immigration had first been released by President Trump in January of 2017, but later faced significant challenges from federal courts across the nation, and had not taken effect until December — 2018 had been the first full year where official information on the ban was available. The “travel ban”, intending to restrict immigration from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, had been met with extensive protests at airports worldwide, and was criticized as a blatant act of Islamophobia and xenophobia.
However, the ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2018. In 2017, there were less than 1,000 visa denials under the same categories, but this number dramatically increased the next year when the ban was fully in effect. According to Reuters, there were 37,029 total visa denials in 2018; 15,384 applications for permanent resident visas, and 21,645 applications for short-term visits were rejected by the U.S. State Department.
The travel ban does not preserve peace and stability, but rather undermines global connection and promotes xenophobia. As a global superpower, the United States has a responsibility to promote international communication and diplomacy, but the travel ban sends a symbolic message that the country prioritizes preserving white supremacy over world unity and cooperation. If visa denials continue to increase, the belief that the U.S. is blatantly Islamophobic and corrupt will likely follow suit. This message could then be used as dangerous propaganda for extremist terror groups to recruit individuals angered over the policy, increasing the potential for global conflict and a continuation of the “War on Terror”. Instead, the travel ban should be eliminated, and the entire visa approval process should be reworked so that individuals from all countries are fairly vetted and given the opportunity to freely enter.