On January 27, President Trump issued his first executive order, instituting a travel ban that prevented citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for ninety days. The original order was ultimately blocked by the courts, but on June 26, the Supreme Court agreed to put part of the new travel ban, excepting Iraq, in place. The full case will be heard in October. In the meantime, the ban will exclude those without a "bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States."
In the past few decades, the United States has become home to an increasing number of immigrants born around the world. Kansas City mirrors this national trend. The number of citizens in the Kansas City who are foreign-born has quadrupled from approximately 33 thousand in 1994 to nearly 135 thousand in 2015. Nationally, the number of foreign-born citizens in the U.S. has increased from nearly 20 million people in 1990 to almost 40 million in 2015.
In 2015, Kansas had more than 800 immigrants from Iran and more than 15,000 immigrants from a number of African nations. Missouri at that time was home to more than 1,500 Iranian immigrants and 135,000 foreign-born citizens from Africa. Though these statistics do not specify particular African countries, surely immigrants from Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are among those included in these numbers.
In fact, immigrants from nations now part of the travel ban play an increasingly important role in Kansas City’s two states. Emporia, Kansas, has experienced an influx of refugees from Somalia in recent years. Many of these refugees, for whom entry into this country would now be prohibited, have entered into the Kansas workforce. Across the state line, immigrants from Somalia and Sudan comprise a large portion of the workforce of the Tyson Foods plant in Noel, Missouri. On both sides of the state line, immigration from travel-ban-affected nations has been influential.
The travel ban will doubtless diminish immigration from the seven nations, each of which are predominantly Muslim. This will likely influence American sentiment and existing animosity regarding Muslims in the U.S. as a consequence. The travel ban will certainly affect immigration, but only time will tell how profoundly this policy will shape our nation and our city.
Migration Policy Institute
Springfield News Leader
Liz Orr is a senior at the University of Kansas, double-majoring in Global and International Studies and French with a minor in Economics.