Eased Muslim Travel Bans Offer Temporary Respite, Lots More Needed

After being inaugurated as the 46th President of the US, Joe Biden has ended the plight of 7 percent of the world’s population that was the victim of Trump imposed Muslim travel bans. By signing 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations yesterday, the Biden administration has given hope to several predominantly Muslim and African countries.

Aiming to resume travel and immigration, Biden has ordered the State Department to restart visa processing from formerly banned Muslim countries. In another welcome move, Biden has reinforced the Deferred Action for Children program to protect the interests of immigrants who entered the US as children.

Trump imposed Muslim travel bans had not only forced families to stay distant but also disappointed students from the affected countries who had dreamed of enrolling in US’ educational institutions. As per statistics, over 41,000 people weren’t able to acquire visas easily. Waivers that allowed Muslims to enter the US for urgent medical reasons or for reuniting with immediate family members were certainly difficult to get.

The rescinding of Muslim travel bans will ease the problems of people who have relatives in the US. As per the Executive Director of the non-profit Muslim Advocates Farhana Khera, Biden’s decisions will “lift a persistent cloud of hopelessness and uncertainty” for families in the US and abroad.

Although the US’ authorities are hoping to witness a rise in the number of visa applications from formerly banned Muslim countries, several factors will continue to affect travel across the countries. Firstly, the travel bans of different countries suffering from the pandemic will act as a barrier for families awaiting to reunite.

Also, the Biden administration will have to rework some other Trump imposed barriers to ease the life of Muslim travellers. These include: implementing ‘extreme vetting programs’ that Trump introduced to bar individuals from entering the US based on their attitude towards the country and collecting biometric information from immigrants seeking the US citizenship.

As stated by Farhana Khera, “The Biden administration must take sweeping administrative action to clear away these hurdles and reunite families as soon as humanly possible”.

Biden’s move to rescind Muslim travel bans has led advocates to push the government to pass the ‘No ban’, which would prevent any future administration from announcing any such ban. Also, the government must consider the 33-point list of additional concerns that have been put forth by the American-Islamic Relations. This would offer a ray of hope to all Muslims who have been facing immigration and visa related challenges in the past four years.

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