Who is affected?
For 120 days, the order bars the entry of any refugee who is awaiting resettlement in the U.S. It also prohibits all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. until further notice. Additionally, it bans the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen—from entering the U.S. on any visa category.*
On Saturday this included individuals who are permanent residents of the U.S. (green-card holders) who were traveling overseas to visit family or for work—though a senior administration official said their applications would be considered on a case-by-case basis. The official also said green-card holders from those countries who are in the U.S. will have to meet with a consular officer before leaving the U.S.
News reports suggested the White House overruled the Department of Homeland Security’s recommendations on excluding green-card holders from the executive orders. Preibus, on Meet the Press, denied that, then appeared to suggest that the order won’t affect permanent residents going forward, but when pressed appeared to contradict himself.
“We didn’t overrule the Department of Homeland Security, as far as green-card holders moving forward, it doesn’t affect them,” he said. But when pressed by Chuck Todd, the show’s host, on whether the order affected green-card holders, he replied: “Well, of course it does. If you’re traveling back and forth, you’re going to be subjected to further screening.”
On Sunday evening, John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, offered more definitive guidance. “In applying the provisions of the president’s executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest,” he said in a statement. “Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”
The order also targets individuals of those countries who hold dual citizenship with another country. For instance, an individual who holds both Iraqi and Canadian citizenships—though the U.K. foreign secretary said the U.S. had assured him it didn’t apply to U.K. nationals.
It does not apply to individuals who hold U.S. citizenship along with citizenship of another country—though a CBP agent can presumably question such a person based on his or her discretion.
Why were those seven countries chosen?
Trump had made national security a centerpiece of his election campaign—at one point calling for a “total and complete” ban on all Muslims coming to the U.S. Although the executive order does not do that, Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, said on ABC’s This Week that the president “hit the ground running, had a flurry of activity, to do exactly what he said he was going to do.”