News & Resources

Press Release: IRAP Applauds Executive Order Rescinding Muslim and African Bans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

January 21, 2021


Henrike Dessaules


(New York, NY) – Last night, the Biden administration issued an executive order immediately rescinding the Muslim and African bans in their entirety. The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) applauds this move, which revokes two of the Trump administration’s many discriminatory policies that have kept hundreds of thousands of families separated from their loved ones in the United States for years. 

The Trump administration issued the Muslim ban executive order as its first policy action after the inauguration in 2017. As a result of the order and its chaotic implementation, thousands of travelers were stranded at airports around the world, and many travelers to the United States were detained and deported. In response, IRAP called on lawyers to help stranded families at airports across the country and filed the first lawsuit against the order on behalf of two of its clients, Darweesh v. Trump, which blocked the order that same day, leading to the release of thousands of detained travelers. 

IRAP also filed an additional lawsuit challenging the order and its successors in their entirety, IRAP v. Trump, which resulted in preliminary injunctions that allowed thousands of families to reunite until the order was upheld by the Supreme Court. As a result of that decision, the Muslim ban became the law of the land, separating families, stigmatizing individuals from the Muslim-majority countries targeted, and preventing individuals such as students with scholarships and those seeking specialized medical treatment from entering the United States.

After the Supreme Court turned a blind eye to the Trump administration’s xenophobic policy, Trump doubled down, this time targeting individuals from several African nations by issuing the African travel ban.

Not only does yesterday’s order lift these discriminatory bans, it also requires the State Department to come up with a plan to expedite the applications of individuals impacted, many of whom have been waiting years for a waiver under the prior bans. Further, it requires the State Department to make a proposal to ensure those who were denied visas because of the bans have their applications reconsidered. Finally, yesterday’s order calls for a review of the harmful “extreme vetting” changes made by the prior administration that added layers of bureaucratic delay to the application process.

“We are relieved and grateful that the administration has made the rescission of the discriminatory Muslim and Africa bans a Day One priority,” said IRAP’s Deputy Executive Director, Nisha Agarwal. “This decision will allow families from all over the world to reunite, as well as bring relief to many other individuals whose lives have been upended by these harmful policies. This order is an important first step in righting the wrongs of the previous administration’s immigration policies.”

IRAP urges the Departments of State and Homeland Security to take immediate action pursuant to this executive order. And to ensure that such discriminatory policies may never be issued again by any future administrations, IRAP calls on Congress to pass the No Ban Act. 

To view the press release, click here.