Trump’s travel ban 2.0: What changed from the first one?

File photo: US President Donald Trump signed a revised travel ban on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 07 March 2017

Trump’s travel ban 2.0: What changed from the first one?

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump revived his travel ban Monday, signing a revised executive order (EO) that temporarily bans new immigration from six majority-Muslim countries while exempting Iraqis and dual citizens, and issuing a full suspension on the refugee program into the US.
Stylistically, unlike the previous order on Jan. 27, this one avoided a media splash, with Trump signing it behind closed doors in the Oval Office, and granting nine days until implementation (March 16).
Also, instead of White House aides taking the lead in explaining the order, it was the secretaries of state, justice and homeland security laying it out for the public after a thorough review that involved Congress.
On substance, however, the revised “executive order does not differ dramatically from its disastrous predecessor,” said Noah Rothman, a policy analyst and assistant online editor at Commentary Magazine. 
In a sense, it still puts a 90-day hold on visas from six Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Iran — and blocks refugee entry.
Rothman told Arab News that the revised order “has been amended enough to likely pass legal muster” in an attempt to avoid the embarrassment that the previous EO encountered, leading to its defeat in a San Francisco court on Feb. 9.
These amendments included exempting dual citizens with passports not on the list, as well as excluding green-card and visa holders issued before Jan. 27. It also avoids the labeling of the new EO as a “Muslim ban.”
“This is not a Muslim ban in any way, shape or form,” a senior US official said in a call with reporters previewing the new ban. While the previous travel ban excluded Christian refugees applying from majority-Muslim countries and singled out Syrian refugees, this one suspended full refugee entry into the US for 120 days.
It also cut in half the cap for numbers of refugees that the US will take after that period from 110,000 under the Obama administration to 50,000 a year.
One of the legal hiccups that the new order tries to overcome is the judges’ conclusion, as reported by the New York Times, that the previous ban “did not advance national security, and that the administration had shown ‘no evidence’ that anyone from the seven nations had committed terrorist acts in the United States.”
US officials, ahead of rolling out this order, said the FBI is pursuing 300 terror-related cases of individuals admitted to the US as refugees. The officials did not specify when those refugees entered, countries of origin or threat level.
“That is not a small number,” a senior US official said, and probably one that the Trump administration will bring up in any court fight challenging this order.
Still Rothman viewed “the language (of the order) as one that exposes how little this action has to do with terrorism and how much it has to do with immigration.”
Rothman said exempting Iraq, a country where Daesh controls territory, “exposes the hollowness of that (counter-terror) rationale.”
Just last week, the commander of the US-led coalition, Lt.-Gen. Stephen Townsend, said there are between 12,000 and 15,000 Daesh fighters in Iraq and Syria, with around 2,000 of them isolated around Mosul.
Another criticism of the ban, said Rothman, is that “there have been no fatal terrorist events inside the US committed by refugees since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. Prior to 1980, three Cuban refugees were implicated in terrorism. Cuba remains, according to the Department of Homeland Security review, one of the world’s most likely terrorism exporters, but it remains exempted from Trump’s immigration order.”
Civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were quick to criticize and pledge to challenge the revised ban. “See you in court,” ACLU tweeted. Its director for the Immigrants Rights Project, Omar Jadwat, said: “The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban.”
For the Trump administration, however, this is a campaign promise and a national security issue. “Today’s executive order will make America more secure and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
According to the Washington Post, US officials at Mar-a-Lago in Florida last weekend “tried to put Trump in a better mood by going over their implementation plans for the travel ban.” Now that is signed, and if it withstands legal challenges, it would be viewed by Trump as a key early accomplishment of his first 100 days in office.

Afghanistan has half a million widows, and the number is increasing, says government

Updated 51 min 2 sec ago

Afghanistan has half a million widows, and the number is increasing, says government

  • Some 15 kilometers southeast of the capital is the “zanabad,” or city of women, built completely by widows
  • Widows are the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan

KABUL: The burden of life has made Masooma look twice her age. Her life story in many ways is similar to those of several hundred thousand other Afghan women who have become widows since the latest conflict began here more than 40 years ago.
She lost her husband in a rocket attack 17 years ago in Kabul and since then has been feeding and raising her five children, doing jobs such as cleaning and laundry.

Looking frail and exhausted, Masooma is now part of the army of Kabul’s municipality and cleans roads in the city where the gap between the rich and poor is widening, thanks to the flow of foreign aid that has largely ended up in the pockets of commanders and those with links either to the government or foreign troops, as Masooma laments.

“I hate to beg and am proud of my job. I'm happy to earn a livelihood in a legitimate way,” Masooma told Arab News, sweeping a road and wearing an orange gown and a tight headscarf.

Like the rest of her female colleagues, she cleans the streets by braving the attacks, the rising heat in summer and extreme cold in winter.

Her eldest child is a young man now and he is a bus conductor, helping her to pay the rent for the house and sharing other responsibilities. 

But her life has been a long struggle in a male-dominated society where women are perceived largely as owned by their father before becoming their husband’s property and widows are often rejected or regarded as burdens.

“You cannot imagine the hardships I have gone through. It is not easy to raise five children without a father, without money and a house,” Masooma said.

Widows are the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan. They suffer violence, expulsion, ostracism and sometimes forced remarriage, often with a brother-in-law, as reported by the UN Mission in Afghanistan in a study in 2014.

Ferooza, another widow, lost her husband 20 years ago during a clash with the Taliban in northern Baghlan province. She moved to Kabul along with her daughter, Habiba. They have similar jobs to Masooma, with no health or life insurance in a country in the middle of war that relies on foreign aid.

“Life is very tough for widows. It is not easy for women to clean the streets day after day, for months and years, but we do not have an alternative. We are content and feel happy that we are working rather than being a burden on others,” Habiba told Arab News with a mild smile.

According to the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, there are more than 500,000 widows in Afghanistan, most of them war widows. Of these, 70,000 are breadwinners for their families, the ministry said in recent statistics given to the media last week.

Some 15 kilometers southeast of the capital is the “zanabad,” or city of women, built completely by widows. The first women settled on this stony-slope location outside Kabul in the 1990s, hoping to escape the stigma they are forced to endure.

Today it is known as Afghanistan’s "hill of widows," home to a cluster of women who have eked out independence in a society that shuns them.

Ninety percent of them are illiterate, some even taking care of as many as eight children, Hashratullah Ahmadzai, spokesman for the ministry, told Arab News.

“We are in a state of war. The number of women who become widows is increasing. Those who fight on the government side and those on the side of the Taliban and the miltants have wives and mothers too. People on both sides suffer and women on all sides are affected more than anyone in this war,” Ahmadzai said. 

War widows who are registered by the government receive some meagre annual help from the ministry, but that does not meet the need of the victims, he said.

Gul Ghotai, head of the statistics department at the Ministry of Women Affairs, said the government lacks any strategy on creating vocational or short-term jobs for the widows.

“The ministry of women has done nothing on this. The government as a whole has failed to address the widows’ problems because it does not have the capacity. It has not even come up with a plan as to how to tackle the problem,” she told Arab News.