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?