Travel Ban: No One Has Been Denied Entry, Government Spokesperson Claims

Since the so-called “revised Trump travel ban” went into effect on June 29, there’s been scant followup coverage of the real-world practical impact. Compared to the initial iteration of the ban in January, which sparked a huge flurry of protest, media attention, and litigation, the June 29 ban took hold with little fanfare — even though it codifies the basic principles contained in the first version.

Asked by TYT Politics to comment on the impact of the Executive Order, a representative for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Jennifer Gabris, said: “No one has been denied entry under the terms of the EO since its implementation.”

…No one?

Then what exactly is the ban doing?

Omar Jadwat, lead lawyer for the ACLU on ban-related litigation, reacted to CBP’s claim. “If true, that’s because the ban is operating by denying people visas or other permission to travel to the United States,” he said. “So they never make it to the border to be denied entry.”

One complication in deciphering all of this is that, according to the State Department, while every type of visa adjudication decision is monitored in real-time, final data is only published at the end of every fiscal year. The current fiscal year will end on September 30. Apparently, only then will it be possible to make year-to-year comparisons and try to gauge the number of visa denials to, say, Iranians in July, 2017 as compared to July, 2016. Further, the rate at which entries have been denied is a different metric, separate from the rate at which visas have been denied. Neither would necessarily give the full picture as to what the overall impact is.

“How would we know if someone chose not to travel as a result of the EO?” asked David Lapan, a representative for the Department of Homeland Security — an indication of how powerless the media and advocates are to get an accurate reading of the situation.

The initial “travel ban” garnered so much publicity in January because the effect of it was to deny large numbers of unsuspecting people entry — people who had assumed they’d be eligible to get into the country and in many cases were already in transit when the ban took effect. But the smooth implementation of the June 29 ban has prompted far less public outcry, even though, in practice, it could still be preventing otherwise-upstanding people from entering the US.

“I have not heard of any cases from our colleagues or allies around the country of people being stopped at the airport,” Matt Adams, legal director at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, told TYT Politics. “So it could very well be that [CPB’s claim] is true. Then again, it just goes back to the practical effect that once it’s already in play, then people aren’t even permitted to board the plane.”

It would seem there are two possibilities. One, the ban is working as intended, without the chaotic bureaucratic ineptitude that characterized the first go-around. Or, perhaps, the ban is relatively toothless, even if it shares the same basic principles with the initial incarnation — which would seem to undermine Trump’s claim that the Supreme Court’s ruling last month allowing the ban to go forward constituted a big “WIN.”

Either way, the difficulty in gathering accurate data to gauge the impact of the ban ought to be seen as worrisome, whether you support the policy or loathe it.

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