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Ethics Week 7: The New Travel Ban

So. The travel ban.

It’s not strictly digital humanities, but it’s definitely ethics and it’s definitely relevant to Carleton. So that’s my blog post for today: what’s happening, what does it mean, and how is it going to impact us?

What’s happening?

Basically, the Trump administration is expanding their limitations on visas for immigration into the United States. This policy was announced at the end of January, and it’s taking effect on February 21st, 2020. Spot check: that’s tomorrow.

Up until now, there have been restrictions on immigration from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. Citizens from those countries can’t obtain visas at all. With the new policy, there will also be limitations on Myanmar/Burma, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, and Eritrea. Citizens from these countries aren’t barred from visiting the States entirely, but they mostly won’t be able to get permanent residency.

What does it mean?

The Trump administration is calling this a national security measure, though the effectiveness of the policy is in doubt. Critics are calling it out for racist policies — specifically, the appearance of four African nations on the list of newly-restricted countries after many remarks by President Trump denigrating African countries has caused a backlash.

Legally, there are a variety of visas the United States offers. They are divided into two main categories: Nonimmigrant Visas, and Immigrant Visas. This new update to the travel ban focuses primarily on immigrant visas, which include sponsorship by a spouse or family member, sponsorship by an employer, diversity visas, and returning residents.

The updated ban bars citizens from the affected countries (Myanmar/Burma, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Eritrea) from the diversity visa lottery, and only citizens from Tanzania and Sudan will be able to gain visas that would let them immigrate to the US. There are other specific restrictions of varying sorts on different countries related to which types of visas can be obtained (there are 34 varieties of nonimmigrant visa that I found, and 30 varieties which might apply to citizens of the affected countries).

What does this mean for Carleton?

This is going to hit Carleton specifically with regards to international students and faculty. Those who already have visas aren’t going to have them revoked, and student visas are among the nonimmigrant visas which aren’t going to be restricted, but students might think twice about applying to United States schools if they’re unlikely to be able to gain long-term residency in the country.

Additionally, faculty visas seem to be a bit of a gray area. Employer-sponsored visas fall into the immigrant visa category, which the travel ban is restricting, but there is a non-immigrant visa called “Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)”, which is a J-visa. J-visas are specifically for individuals who are part of exchange visitor programs, which is unlikely to help with long-term employees of the college.

The takeaway is… I’m not sure, honestly. The political science department hosts an off-campus studies program travelling to Thailand and Myanmar. International students may still be able to get visas, but it will likely be difficult and may lower the desire to attend Carleton. And employees of the college currently on an employer-sponsored visa shouldn’t have theirs revoked, but it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to renew it once it expires.


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