Biden Lifts Controversial Travel Ban on Muslim Majority Countries

President Joe Biden this week reversed a controversial travel ban on certain countries with majority Muslim populations in one of his first efforts to overturn actions taken by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

"The United States was built on a foundation of religious freedom and tolerance, a principle enshrined in the United States Constitution.  Nevertheless, the previous administration enacted a number of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States — first from primarily Muslim countries, and later, from largely African countries," Biden wrote in his presidential action reversing the ban on Wednesday. "Those actions are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all."

The executive order, criticized as a Muslim ban, was first enacted in 2017 and jeopardized the visas of people in several countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order was immediately challenged in court and went through several iterations with a more narrow version eventually upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote.

In January 2020, Trump again considered widening the ban to include more countries like Myanmar, Sudan, and Tanzania. 

Joe Biden

On Wednesday, Biden said while the U.S. will "apply a rigorous, individualized vetting system" for visa applications, "we will not turn our backs on our values with discriminatory bans on entry into the United States."

As part of his executive order, Biden said anyone who had their visa application denied because of the ban may have their application reconsidered. 

In addition to reversing the ban, Biden asked for a review of the U.S.' current screening and vetting procedures, including how social media is used, as well as a report on the efficacy of foreign government information-sharing practices.

The move to reverse the ban was one of several executive actions Biden took hours after being sworn in as the 46th president, including implementing new mask mandates in airports, on public transportation, and on federal lands, and requiring international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to the U.S.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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