Putting Trump’s Travel Ban and IML into Perspective

It’s been just over one week since Trump’s Travel Ban targeted certain immigrants and global citizens.  For those who followed this act day by day, it was very tumultuous week.  During the first few days, foreign green card holders and visa holders were instantly deported back to the country where their flight came from.  Some were detained for questioning by DHS and released.  The US government revoked between 60,000 and 100,000 visas that it previously approved for travel.   Civil rights and immigration attorneys quickly filed lawsuits.  One week later, federal courts intervened and suspended the travel ban, allowing the approved visa holders to once again commence their journey to the United States.

In an instant with the signature of the President on his executive order, tens of thousands of lives across the globe were turned upside down.  Global families were separated in different countries with uncertain futures of when and how they would be reunited.  International employees were kept from their jobs and workplaces.  International students were kept from attending their schools.  And some medical patients were kept from pending medical procedures.  Some will have the good fortune to have a successful resolution while the courts intervene and allow travel and immigration to continue.  History tells that many will likely remain irreparably harmed for years.

Trump’s travel ban is quite similar in its cruel effects as a lesser known travel ban known as International Megan’s Law which has targeted a select group of U.S. citizens.   For the U.S. citizens who have experienced similar suffering from the unsympathetic hands of the US government, they know and understand the real issues at hand here.

 While the President and his DOJ minions scramble to defend this new policy, arguing the sanctity of his authority, national security and what immigration law does or does not allow, the real issue of the cruelty and inhumane treatment of innocent people by the US government remains in the background.

Since 2011 the U.S. government has interfered with and prevented the innocent travel of global U.S. citizens placed on the U.S. Sex Registry.  Between 2012 and 2016, thousands of US citizens were prevented from traveling outside the US for purposes of traveling on vacation with their families, to get married or honeymoon, to visit spouses and loved ones abroad, or to tend to business interests abroad.   Many spouses remain blacklisted from their loved one’s country and have been kept separated from their overseas spouses and families indefinitely due to a notification sent by the US government to the foreign country.

Also during this same timeframe from 2011 to 2016, the US government used immigration law to target over 4000 of the same global US citizens and their families by singling them out through an extensive vetting process.  Once singled out by the US government, the visas of spouses, children, and family members are systematically denied for this targeted group of US petitioners and their foreign family members.  Spouses and family members are deported back to their country of origin when the US government revoked their visas and green cards, banishing family members to different countries with no hope of reunification.  DHS operates a program named “Angel Watch” to prevent these U.S. Citizens from traveling abroad to be with their banished family members.

Trump’s Travel Ban was eerily similar to the IML passed in February 2016 by the use of the wrong tools to address the stated problem and thereby expending political capital in exchange for real human lives. The President authorized the revocation of tens of thousands of existing visas and denial to millions of citizens of seven countries that had no ties to the small number of terrorist attacks in the U.S.    Trump and his cabinet argue that the travel ban is absolutely necessary for national security and warned that “many very bad and dangerous people” might enter the country.

Sound familiar?  The same rationale was used to put IML in place, except of course that the stated purpose was to prevent child sex tourism abroad.  On February 7, 2016, Chris Smith wrote in his article published in the Washington Post that, “currently tens of thousands of offenders could be traveling abroad as child sex tourists.” In spite of the U.S. State Department finding in 2010 that the law’s rationale was “very misleading and that General Accounting Office “found no evidence that offenders used their passports to commit sex offenses abroad.”  In fact there is no empirical evidence linking traveling U.S. registered sex offenders to the ones exploiting children abroad.  Likewise to the small number of terror attacks in the U.S., the actual number of Americans charged for a crime against a minor abroad is proportionately very small making the crime exceptionally rare.

The individual IML stories are one and the same as these recent stories from the global travelers and immigrants covered in the news this past week.  IML affected families have observed first hand, the cruel actions of the US government in purposely interfering with the travel of their loved one and intentionally causing irreparable harm to their family through government interference with routine global travel, denial of visas and malicious deportation of family members.

On February 3, 2017, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart bravely stated ““For purposes of the entry of this TRO, the court finds that the states have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the Executive Order,” “The Executive Order adversely affects the states’ residents in the areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel.”  

IML affected citizens and their families are still awaiting “their day in court.” How can we recognize the cruel and inhumane treatment of one group of people and fail to see the same for another group?  


  1. People convicted of sex tourism and/or human trafficking have their passports revoked. Yet the government passed IML to target people whose crimes have nothing to do with either of those attrocities. That’s like banning pot smokers from traveling because of the things meth addicts do overseas.

  2. John, absolutely correct. Page 19 of the 2010 GAO study referenced in the article: http://www.gao.gov/assets/310/305432.pdf

    “The [State] Department does have legal authority to deny passports in certain circumstances, including limited authority to deny in cases involving sex offenders. As noted in the draft report, Congress has already provided the Department authority to deny passports to individuals convicted of the crime of sex tourism involving minors and who used their passport or passport card or otherwise crossed an international border in committing an offense. The Department is currently working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to implement this legislation. The Department also has authority to deny passports to individuals for whom an order of probation or parole as been entered by a court forbidding departure from the United States. When such orders are entered for sex offenders, the Department has authority to deny their passports on that basis.”

  3. Unfortunate for those on the registry they are accused of having lost their travel privilege for having violated the law and that is a consequence of their conviction. In addition they are not permitted the claim of religious or racial discrimination like the Muslim ban.

    • Ok, so the first ammendment violation does not stick very well, but it is double jeopardy for those with completed sentences.

      • Through much research it has been shown the punishment for registered citizens NEVER ends no matter what the sentence issued by the courts. Example, one man served 13 years in prison, 2 1/2 yrs on CRD and has been out since 2010. He is now 75 and is free….with shackles. He will always have to comply with restrictions not issued by the courts at his sentence. Too many things for me to list.

      • I agree Timothy- a person has completed their sentence but still have punishments

  4. But no question that the US government interferes with one’s religion beliefs by interfering with one’s marriage and family. Most humane countries in the world believe that it is the duty of the state to protect the solidarity of the family and sanctity of marriage. These actions by the US government is contrary to those beliefs and practices which is universal to most religions.

  5. Keep in mind that every president has made similar orders. Obama had issued 37 separate travel ban notifications in his 8-year tenure, including 11 in 2016 alone, including two for the very same countries, and for longer time periods, than the countries Trump had stopped. Bush had issued 44, though 23 were done in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 attacks.

    The big issue is that the current president has issued an order amidst his campaign rhetoric that specified religion, while the ban is issued for specific safety reasons. In addition, the Democrats are essentially on their last legs as a viable political entity, and they are doing everything they can to use the media and the courts to reestablish their relevancy. Mitch McConnell and the moderate Republicans are the only ones who may be able to preserve the progressive advancement and ultimate end of capitalism in the United States.

    What is notable is that the State Department is using the technology and the processes that have been studied and attributed to sex offender monitoring and processing through IML legislation to use on other groups, in this case displaced individuals from seven countries deemed dangerous on the federal list. In short, sex offenders will remain the guinea pigs and, coupled with socialist disgust and capitalist endeavors, will prevent all registered sex offenders from travel outside of the US for the rest of their lives.

    • Erik,

      So with your perspective, we should simply allow the injustice because there’s no hope? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’m saying that many civil rights issues in history have taken a lot of time and a lot of effort to change. Who would have thought just a few years ago that we’d see LGBT protections front and center?

      I certainly hope your last sentence does not prove to be prophetic. We are all united for change, not resignation. Please explain your comment when you have a chance? Thanks!

      • I happen to agree with not only his last sentence but with all he has presented. I have done much work with registered citizens and am coordinator for Pasco County for FAC which is an advocacy organization for registered citizens. Arbitrarily, the powers that be issue restrictions that pluck some of these people out of their homes and away from their families,forced into woods and many unsanitary conditions. They feed the public with placebos,instead of education. Hard to believe? Just ask me for more information.

  6. With all due respect to the opinions expressed, tying IML to the travel ban is a losing proposition. ISIS and radicalized Muslims in the US will guarantee it’s popularity, already at 57% as I write this.

    Defeating IML must be done on it’s own lack of credibility: Congress has already provided the Department authority to deny passports to individuals convicted of the crime of sex tourism involving minors and who used their passport or passport card or otherwise crossed an international border in committing an offense.

    NO one can prove that S.O. travelers are (or will be) sex tourists.

    • RJ, the purpose for the contrast was to show the inhumane treatment of people for political intents and the disparity given to those with a sex offender label.

      Just read a story, Mother of two gets deported: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/09/us/arizona-guadalupe-garcia-de-rayos-protests/

      Contrast this story with AWA families: When an AWA petition gets denied, the foreign spouse (called beneficiary by UICIS) with no criminal record gets deported.
      In other words, the AWA alien spouse is deported because of the conviction of another person. Unlike the mother of two in the story who was deported for her own felony conviction.

  7. RJ,

    I don’t think we’re trying to tie the IML to the travel ban, we’re simply saying that there are similarities. And with those similarities, if it is wrong for one group, then we hope to show that it’s wrong with another. Many of us have already been suffering a “travel ban” for years.

    And you’re right… no one can prove that registered citizens are traveling for sex of any kind. This was simply a lie propagated by Rep. Chris Smith, and Judge Alito. If law makers would look at the numbers (something they obviously don’t do… unless it’s numbers showing how to get more votes) they would see that this lie only plays on the fears of people and cannot be statistically proven.

    Please, continue to chime in on the conversations!

  8. @Darrin

    I never said I accepted the “injustice.” I simply meant that there is a nexus for using sex offenders as the guinea pigs when it comes to controlling people and their actions, and IML was the catalyst for such control at the granular (individual) level. But it is a bit odd that there was no legal challenge done on Bush or Obama, only on Trump. Better late than never, I suppose, though constitutional actions of RSO’s and actions governments take to limit immigration (for instance, immigrants from Europe, South Africa, and Australia are banned just as the other seven countries listed) are two separate issues.

  9. Spot on article!
    If there was an illegal immigrant registry, people would lose their minds…you do it to these US citizens, and the public cheers. Precedent?

  10. What an injustice to those people on the U.S. sex offender registry – who could be a 19-year-old man who had consensual sex with his 17- year-old girlfriend years ago. Many on the registry are there because of ex-spouses framing them and are innocent. Many have gone through treatment that has proven to work. Many have families including spouses of the opposite sex and children. Most sex offenders are first-time offenders and the rate of re-offense is 2%. They have paid their debt to society. Why let this unfounded fear punish them for life? It is so unfair.

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