President Donald Trump issued in January Presidential Proclamation 9983, expanding his initial travel ban that took effect on June 26, 2018. The new expansion, which took effect on Feb. 22, restricts citizens from Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan from obtaining permanent visas to work or live in the United States, according to USA Today. Citizens from Sudan and Tanzania were made ineligible for the diversity visa program, which is designed to diversify the immigrant population in the U.S. by choosing applicants from countries with lower immigration rates, according to USA Today.
The initial travel ban took effect following several changes due to court challenges, according to the State Department’s website. The ban denied visas to citizens of seven countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea, according to Politico. Chad was originally on the list, but it was removed before the newest version went into effect.
The ban does not affect international students at the University of Indianapolis because it does not directly affect student visas, according to Associate Provost for International Engagement and Chief International Officer Jodie Ferise.
Ferise said that Indianapolis immigrant communities, including those who have come through refugee advocacy and resettlement agencies, almost undoubtedly have felt the impact of the ban, however. Some of the refugees who have come through those agencies have been UIndy students, Ferise said.
“Here in this office, we do absolutely everything we can to create a supportive and welcoming environment for [international students],” Ferise said. “We hope that nothing ever happens to jeopardize the ability [for immigrants] to come in as students.”
One of the refugee advocacy and resettlement agencies that is located in Indianapolis is Exodus Refugee Immigration. The agency provides social services to refugees who have been invited to the United States, according to UIndy alumnus and Executive Director of Exodus Refugee Immigration Cole Varga. Even though the travel ban does not affect refugees, the ban could still affect their family members, Varga said.
“If you’re a refugee, and you’re already here, and you’re filing [a visa] for a family member that’s still in Burma [Myanmar] … it’s going to be really difficult for that to happen if they’re not a refugee status,” Varga said.
The recent travel ban is one of multiple policies intended to put U.S. immigration programs on hold, Varga said. He said that these bans and similar policies exist to put more immigrants at risk, are discriminatory in nature and should be rescinded immediately.
“There’s nothing besides the xenophobic whim of President Trump that created these policies in the first place,” Varga said. “So I don’t think there’s any real reason for it.”
Varga said that presidents in recent history have approved of allowing citizens to travel to the U.S. from the banned countries. He said that Trump is differentiating himself from previous presidents in that way is unfair.
“We’re a very welcoming country historically,” Varga said. “Limiting immigrants, limiting people based on their race or based on their religion, is not part of our history, and it shouldn’t be any longer.”