A Handy Guide to Understanding the Immigration Ban

  • Copy by: Daryl Lindsey
  • Feature Image : Pexels

At 4:42 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from any country and the citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States.

Shortly thereafter, a flood of commentary (from Republicans and Democrats alike) swept across social media, dominating our newsfeeds with confusing headline after confusing headline. If you struggled to make sense of the truth through the hysteria, you’re not alone.

We took a hard look at the facts, as told by reputable news sources, fact-checking services, and U.S. Government websites to put together a handy guide for understanding the ban, what it means, and what you can do about it.

What does the immigration ban do, exactly?

President Trump signed an executive order Friday (you can read the full text here) that immediately did the following:

  1. Suspended ALL refugee admission into the United States for 120 days.
  2. Stopped Syrian refugee admission into the United States indefinitely.
  3. Blocked entry into the U.S. for passport holders of seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for 90 days. This includes all travelers, airline crews, and even people who hold U.S. green cards and visas.

Source: CNN

How did this affect people?

Refugees around the world were blocked from getting on planes bound for the United States. Citizens from the seven named countries, including those who hold U.S. green cards or other U.S. visas, were also turned away.

Those who fit into the above categories who were already on a plane when Trump signed the order (officials estimate 100 to 200 people) were detained upon arrival. Many were sent back to their countries of origin.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that green card holders from the seven named countries would be allowed in the United States. He then added that “If you’re traveling back and forth [between the named countries and the U.S.], you’re going to be subjected to further screening.”  If this sounds ambiguous, that’s because it is: Articles published Monday report many green card holders still remain in detention, while others were deported.

Who isn’t affected?

The executive order did not include people who were born in any of the seven named countries who are now U.S. citizens. According to Preibus, anyone with U.S. Citizenship should be allowed into the country, even if that person has dual citizenship with a country on the ban list.

Additionally, the travel ban did not include other Muslim-majority nations, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Critics of the order expressed concern that Trump’s business ties to those countries prompted him to leave them off the list. Priebus denied those claims Sunday, saying Trump’s business ties did not influence the list of selected countries.

Did Obama ban refugees in 2011?

Trump defended his executive order over the weekend, calling it “similar to what President Barack Obama did in 2011, when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” Since then, this argument has been circling around the internet to defend the travel ban.

According to FactCheck.org, this comparison is “faulty.”

Here’s what we know: In 2011, the White House learned that two Iraqi refugees, who were living in Kentucky, were involved in an attack on U.S. Troops in Iraq. The U.S. Government then rescreened 58,000 Iraqi refugees currently living in the U.S., as well as the 25,000 refugees already approved to live in the U.S. but not yet admitted.

This re-screening process slowed the acceptance of Iraqi visas, thanks to the huge backlog, but did not ban them from the country.

Obama spoke out against Trump’s comparison and condemned the executive order, claiming in a statement that he ““fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

What happened with the ACLU?

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn against Trump’s order Saturday. The judge blocked part of Trump’s order, stopping the government from sending people detained at U.S. airports back to their countries of origin. The judge’s ruling stopped deportations for 100 to 200 people, but did not let people held at airports enter the country.

The Department of Homeland Security says it will not deport the people the judge protected, but will continue enforcing the executive order. “Prohibited travel will remain prohibited,” the department said in a statement.

What did the acting Attorney General do? 

Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates ordered Monday that the U.S. Justice Department may not defend the executive order.

Yates was serving as Attorney General until Trumps AG pick, Jeffrey Sessions, could be confirmed. Trump responded by firing Yates for being “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

Journalists and policymakers drew a connection between the firing and the “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973, when Pres. Richard Nixon fired his AG attorney general and deputy AG after they refused to dismiss the Watergate case’s special prosecutor.

How are lawmakers reacting? 

Democrats fiercely oppose the travel ban and promised to introduce legislation to overturn it. They’ll need Republican support to do so, however, and the majority of Republicans in congress support the order.

Between the House and Senate, 24 Republicans oppose the executive order and 38 have reservations, compared to the 85 who support it.

Notable among Republican opposition are Sen. John McCain (Arizona) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina). The senators released a joint statement opposing the ban, which read:

“We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.”

President Trump tweeted out some choice words for the two senators after they released the statement:


How can I get involved? 

As with any issue you’re passionate about, one of the most effective things you can do as a citizen is to let your rep know how you feel. You can look up your representative here, and let them or a staffer know your thoughts on the travel ban, and how that will affect your vote for their re-election.

If you want to show public support, activists are organizing in essentially every city across America. Do a quick search on Facebook for events in your area, grab a friend, and get marching.

Have you or has someone you know been affected by the executive order? Start a discussion in the comments!

The Everygirl is a nonpartisan platform and we encourage our followers to participate in the democratic process guided by their personal principles and beliefs.

RELATED: This Is What’s Actually Happening With the Affordable Care Act (And What it Means For You)

  • Lauren

    Love this!

  • I love it! You look great, Alaina!


  • Francesca Barger

    My philosophy on leopard print: it doesn’t go with anything so it goes with everything. Long live neutrals! Love this post.

  • Carrie Waller

    Great post, Alaina!! Love your savvy shopping tips =)

  • this is some great inspiration and that green is so beautiful!! x

  • Xojco

    Yes yes yes! I just happened upon a skinny leopard print belt and it has made all te difference in my transition from summer to fall! (Think maxis + button downs)

  • Mary Beth Mulholland

    so adorable! i would never have been bold enough to pair with a print, but it looks so good!

  • I prefer snake print as my go-to ‘neutral’, but will do leopard as well. 🙂

    Very pretty shots. Perhaps you should moonlight as a fashion blogger more often!

  • Love the shoes, looking good Alaina!! x

  • I loooove leopard! It’s my favorite neutral in my closet.

  • love the print on pattern!!

  • so cute alaina! now wishing i had polka dot pants still!

  • CharJoy

    Wow, I bought both pairs of the leopard shoes featured plus the leopard bootie a few weeks ago. All in the same day. I don’t know what came over me. I think it was the texture that won me over. I cannot bring myself to return any of them so, I hope the style continues to renew. If not, I’ll sport them anyways.

  • Leora

    Love the use of Leopard as a neutral! I need to snag a pair for my own. Just wondering, I also love that brown tote! Where is it from?


  • A former boyfriend once told me, “You wear weird colors together.” I said, “No, I just wear leopard as a neutral.” We broke up shortly after.

  • I love all animal prints, but leopard is my favorite! Great picks and cute outfits.

  • I love that look!

  • I literally was walking around Nordstrom Rack in those shoes before attending your event last night. Unfortunately, they were a smidge too big. Great minds think alike! Love the Rack!

  • Stephanie Schertz

    So cute! And I particularly love the “Sold! To the girl in the Canadian Tux” part 😉

  • I’m all for leopard and currently adding a few more leopard pieces to my wardrobe and work it as a neutral. I actually included leopard in my outfit post today. Check it out at http://www.AnUblog.com


  • Susan Barrett

    Alaina – it’s great to see you so successful! Glad we are cousins and I sure wish I had your sense of style in my DNA.
    (Sue Kukulski Barrett)

  • Eclectic Design

    Totally agree… Leopard is a neutral!! Great Post!


  • I love to use leopard print as a neutral, but I prefer it as a pair of shoes or clutch.

  • Mandy Rye

    Totally agree… though it would be way too hard to choose between leopard and zebra! I’ll do both! Big hugs xo @ Waiting on Martha

  • I’m sending this article to a few of my friends because they make fun of my love for animal print. Now, I don’t overdo. But a touch? So necessary.


  • Frances

    Have you seen the beautiful leopard print bracelet and earrings on

    http://moonshimmerjewels.co.uk ? Absolutely gorgeous!

  • Tony Rio

    I don’t think the break up had anything to do with clothes. I had an ex who looked just like the Canadian tux girl with leopard print whatever. She’s really lovely, honest, 3 years we really were open about everything. Too bad things just didn’t work out…. I wish
    her the very best of luck 🙂

  • Kayla Fruchtman

    Really well said and informative!! Thank you!

  • Jasmine Smith

    Hi Daryl,

    Thanks for your article. I have a sincere question that I would like to find answers to. If you could share with me what you find I would be very grateful. According to the world atlas, these are the most populated Muslim countries in the world:

    Turkey (71.3 million) …
    Iran (73.6 million) …
    Egypt (77.0 million) …
    Nigeria (77.3 million) …
    Bangladesh (134.4 million) …
    India (167.4 million) …
    Pakistan (176.2 million) …
    Indonesia (209.1 million)

    You can check these numbers online just to verify the accuracy.

    If you noticed, quite a few countries listed above are not banned from immigration, and also countries in which Trump has no business ties to (Something you mentioned in your article).

    If this was a religious or Muslim ban, according to Obama, why weren’t all these countries denied entry for 90 days?

    Is it possible that the White House, and/or the Pentagon had reasons why they are reevaluating and/or revamping the vetting process? Maybe classified reasons? My mother worked on Capital Hill and I have learned that sometimes we don’t know and aren’t privy to confidential information involving world relations.

    I would love to see someone at the Everygirl write about what would motivate Trump to ban only a few and not ALL of the most Muslim populated countries if he, in fact, was targeting Muslims.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Jack

      It’s hard to find a news site in the US that doesn’t lean either left (eg, the huffington post) or right (eg, fox news), so the explanations you get are really dependent on the source. One of the primary reasons that people are calling this a “Muslim ban,” though, is because Trump campaigned on doing exactly that.

      One of the reasons certain countries you mentioned, like India, are not included is because this ban targeted majority-Muslim countries, not countries with the most muslims. India has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world but also has about 800 million Hindus as well — making it a majority-Hindu country. Of course, if you are targeting countries where most of the people are Muslim it becomes somewhat harder to argue that it’s /not/ a religious ban, which would be unconstitutional (as well as the fact that there is some language in the executive order exempting “religious minorities”/non-Muslims from these countries from parts of the ban).

      One other reason that has been given for some of the other countries, such as Egypt (which is majority-Muslim) is that Trump has a number of business ties to Egypt, so banning those citizens would potentially lead to people boycotting his businesses or severing business ties, negatively impacting his finances. This is a pretty anti-Trump explanation and is mostly being given by left-leaning sources, but it is objectively true that many majority-Muslim countries that were not banned have direct business ties to Trump or his close advisors.

      Finally, it’s also worth noting that many of the terror attacks that have been committed in America in the past decade have been committed by people from countries that were *not* banned and none have been committed by people from the 7 banned countries. This also makes the ban choices somewhat perplexing.

      • Lynn

        Hey Jack,

        A couple of problems with your response:

        1.)The list of countries included in the temporary travel restriction was drawn up by the Obama administration when determining which countries posed as an increased risk to terrorism. This would include countries that are state sponsors of terrorism (like Iran) or have no functioning government to speak of (like Somalia). You may be correct that it is objectively true that many countries that were not added to the temporary restriction list have direct business ties to the Trump org (I really don’t care to research this), but it is unfair to in any way tie this to the selection of countries. As I said, the list of countries was drawn up by the Obama administration.

        2.) I can think of two terrorist attacks in 2016 that were committed by Somalians in America (St Cloud, MN and Ohio State). Luckily no one was killed, but it doesn’t make it okay to erase these acts from history.

        • Jack

          Thanks for clarifying what I said, Lynn! Your point about the Somali attacks in 2016 is one that’s often left out of news reports — I think they instead use the “American citizens killed” number rather than “terror acts committed” number, but it’s important to clarify because results aren’t the same as intentions.

          You’re also right that the Obama administration approved that list of 7 countries as requiring “additional screening” before visas were granted in 2015. However, 4 of the 7 were signed by Obama as a rider (essentially a non-related piece of legislation added to the end of a larger bill) on a “must pass” government spending bill (pretty much exactly what it sounds like) by a Republican congresswoman, Candice Miller (MI). In early 2016 DHS amended that rider to include the other 3 countries. Of course, this bill also didn’t ban visas to those seven countries, just made the requirements stricter than for people from other countries. (The ban has also been compared to an incident in which visa requests by Iraqi citizens were not processed for 6 months during the Obama administration. Essentially, after a terror attack by two visa-holding Iraqi citizens, all Iraqi citizens already in the US, about 500,000, and all those who had been granted visas but not yet arrived, about 25,000, were re-vetted before any new applications were processed. Because of the huge number of visas to be re-checked, no new applications were checked for 6 months. Whether or not this policy — which everyone knew would create huge delays — is called a ban again seems to depend on which political party the person describing it belongs to).

          The larger point you’re making is fair though — those are the countries that MOST international American companies do business with. No one’s trying to expand operations to Iraq or Syria right now, while lots of American businesses are making a ton of money in places like non-banned Saudi Arabia (where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from, for comparison). Trump is just one of many. So while the lack of overlap between business interest countries and banned countries is probably not a coincidence there are many individuals who stand to benefit from it.

          • Laura

            I think if Trump wouldn’t have said in his campaigning I will ban all Muslims this wouldn’t seem like an all Muslim ban. I know it has been said that some of these countries were selected due to their lack of a vetting process, thus trying to keep us safe by improving the process with that particular country. The media is so against Trump that it really is hard to believe what they say alot of the time. I feel like we all have to do our on research and go from there.

          • SarahV

            I’d just like to say that I appreciate both of your comments, Lynn and Jack. I gained perspective from them both and appreciate the time you took to add such detailed information. So often online comments devolve into namecalling and personal attacks, and no one gains anything. It’s refreshing to see you clarify while being polite and respectful. 🙂

            Also thanks Daryl for such a clear and unbiased article – I’ve seen lots of inflammatory headlines about the immigration ban but this article was really helpful in presenting just the relevant facts. Would love a political column that continues this kind of thing in the future!

          • Julia

            Ditto this all of this.

      • Dez

        I think Jack’s explanation is a very good one, especially in reference to majority Muslim countries vs. countries with the most Muslims. Nigeria, for example is not a Muslim country by any means. The majority of the population is actually Christian; however, due to the large population of the country in general, even the Muslims are great in number. Also as Jack stated, the term “Muslim Ban” or the ban being associated with religion has much of anything to do with Obama, but rather with Trump’s own words during his campaign referencing a Muslim ban. And the fact of the matter is that there is a religious exclusion to the ban, from my understanding. That alone lends more credence to this travel ban being religious in nature. Ultimately, we don’t know the logic behind some countries being selected and not others, but we can’t deny the financial connection (Trump’s as well) to countries that were not banned and some despite having direct links to previous terror activities.

    • Renata Fonseca Miranda

      Very well said Jasmine!

  • Sarah B

    This is really informative, thank you. One question I have is how “executive orders” work. How and when is a president able to unilaterally put a policy into effect without having to deal with any of the other branches of the government (per traditional lawmaking?) Would be a helpful bit of background info to be included.

    • Alexia

      I’m no expert, but from what I understand executive orders are a very grey area (the Constitution grants the President the right to wield “executive power”). From my knowledge anything that doesn’t involve the necessity for Congress to appropriate money and is within the jurisdiction of the executive branch (department of state, homeland security, etc) and that also isn’t unconditional is fair game. He could not, for example, overturn a Congressional law, with an executive order. Nor could he change marriage laws in states.

      Hope that helps.

      • Sarah B

        It does help, thank you Alexia!

  • I am Iranian American and my fiancé is American. Most of my family lives in Iran, Sweden, and Canada. Other than my immediate family, I won’t have any family members at my wedding.

    Refusing refugee resettlement is a much bigger problem than banning visas. Last week, however, I felt the impact of this order’s restrictions very personally. As a proud American, I felt shame. I was ashamed to hear of my aunt’s story about her recent experience at the American embassy in Sweden. My aunt is a dual citizen of Iran and Sweden. She has been excited and happy to be one of the only family members of mine that can travel to the U.S. to be with us at my upcoming wedding. She heard the news about Trump’s executive order and contacted the American embassy in Sweden to make sure her trip is not affected. She was surprised to hear that despite her Swedish citizenship, she has to obtain a visa to come to the U.S. because she was born in Iran and has visited Iran within the last five years. But they also added that the visa ban applied to her as well.

    My aunt’s story above is one scintilla of the grave impact of this order. As I noted above, refusing refugee resettlement is a much bigger problem. It is not a political issue and it is one that costs lives. So, irrespective of political beliefs, I have asked everyone in community to please consider signing anti-ban petitions, contact our representatives, and to inform our fellow citizens of this order and its severe consequences.

  • Caleigh

    Thank you for this informative article! As a Canadian I see a lot of mish-mash articles of dubious origin and I’m never sure what to believe. Laying out what is happening from a semi-birds-eye-view is so important for people to understand what’s going on.