Nestle doesn’t care about communities. We do.

The Spring Creek Watershed Commission is planning on holding a public forum on Nestle’s bottling plant being considered for location in Spring and Benner Townships here in Centre County, PA. Time and place for this forum have yet to be determined. The Commission can’t take sides on this issue but they can provide a platform for the public to air their concerns/support on both sides of this issue.

I’ll add a comment re time and place of the public forum once that is set up.

Peter is in the Forest

The people of Spring and Benner Townships have a difficult decision to make. Should the Nestle Corporation be allowed to build a bottling plant that would extract over 400,000 of gallons of water from the aquifer each day and sell it in single-use plastic bottles? The importance of this decision can’t be overstated. Given the public relations blitz the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County has put out there on Nestle’s behalf, I think we need to take a look behind the curtain.

According to Forbes, Nestle was worth just shy of $230 billion last year. They are among the world’s largest food and water companies. That monetary worth, though, has come at tremendous costs to communities across the United States.

On the arid Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation in Cabazon, California, Nestle has continued to pump water during a record-setting drought. The tribe has little to no data to…

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PA Supreme Court Overturns Congressional Map

picture of the US Capital

View of the US Capital

 

This morning, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court overturned Pennsylvania’s Congressional District map as being unconstitutional and ordered that a new plan for the 18 Congressional districts in the state is to be redrawn.  Five of the seven Supreme Court Justices ruled that the maps were unconstitutional.  And four of the seven Justices ordered that the maps be redrawn in the next few weeks.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has until February 9 – 18 days from now to redraw the lines. Governor Tom Wolf has until February 15 to sign off on this plan.  If the legislature fails to meet its deadline and/or Governor Wolf fails to sign off on the plan submitted to him, the PA Supreme Court will create their own map based on information received by the lower, Commonwealth Court.

The state is then expected to publish the new districts by February 19 and, if necessary, readjust the election petitioning process to ensure that the May 15, 2018, primary takes place as scheduled.

This decision is based on Pennsylvania’s Constitution.  In its order, the state Supreme Court used words directly from our state constitution describing why creating districts based on partisan association is unconstitutional.

I located the order from the Supreme Court.  The case is known as League of Women Voters et al. v The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al.  Here’s the statement that says the current map is unconstitutional.

First, the Court finds as a matter of law that the Congressional Redistricting Act
of 2011 clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional.
Accordingly, its further use in elections for Pennsylvania seats in the United States
House of Representatives, commencing with the upcoming May 15, 2018 primary, is
hereby enjoined.

And using text from the state Constitution, the Court mandates that the new map be redrawn to the following specifications:

Fourth, to comply with this Order, any congressional districting plan shall consist
of: congressional districts composed of compact and contiguous territory; as nearly
equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city,
incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure
equality of population.

If the PA Senate GOP appeal to the US Supreme Court to stay this decision is turned down, all 18 districts will be redrawn. This includes the highly gerrymandered PA’s 7th Congressional District (aka “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck”) in the southeast and the 12th Congressional District (aka “The Hammer”) in the southwest.

Here’s what the current Congressional District map looks like with 13 Republicans and 5 Democratic US House Representatives.  There are many possibilities as to what the new, non-partisan districts might look like.  Stephen Wolf has presented one possible non-partisan alternative that could result in as many as 11 or as few as 6 Democratic Congressional seats.  The revised map will almost certainly differ from this initial idea designed by a single, non-elected person. But it does show that it is possible to create a non-partisan district map.

 

Pennsylvania_Comparison_2018 potential non-partisan districts

Current Gerrymandered and Hypothetical Nonpartisan Pennsylvania Congressional Districts. Attribution: Stephen Wolf https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/22/1733876/-Huge-Court-strikes-down-Pennsylvania-s-GOP-congressional-gerrymander-and-orders-a-new-map-for-2018

Thank you to the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania for taking the lead in this case.

 

Religion Is No Excuse For Bigotry. | National Organization for Women

“Allowing a doctor, nurse or other healthcare workers to deny medical care that goes against their so-called moral or religious beliefs would do tremendous harm, not only to individuals suffering from a medical emergency but to the fabric of society itself.

We must not tolerate a two-tier system for health care, one for “good Christians” and one for everyone else. Women have made their personal health care decisions based on their own moral and in some cases religious convictions.”

Source: Religion Is No Excuse For Bigotry. | National Organization for Women

Bellefonte’s Civil Rights Legacy

My town. Bellefonte. I’m proud of its legacy on civil rights. We were a significant part of the Underground Railroad in the 19th Century.

Serge Bielanko posted an article about Martin Luther King and Bellefonte’s history associated with civil rights on our local website.  There are a couple of paragraphs from this article that I’d like to share:

In the early 19th Century, Bellefonte rose up from nothing on the hardworking backs of the iron workers who sweated away in the forges that dotted the landscape. Many of those workers were African-American. And later, before the Civil War- when slavery was becoming a hotly contested issue- Bellefonte was a vital stop along the infamous Underground Railroad. The name Bellefonte was whispered in hushed tones among men, women, and children who were fleeing a life of servitude in search of true freedom.

Think about that for a moment.

Bellefonte once literally meant ‘one step closer to freedom’ to human beings in a way that none of us will ever truly understand or fathom. That’s something for each and every one of us to be proud of in this town. I’m not blowing smoke. It’s a heavy notion, but one which I suspect Dr. King would have tipped his own cap to if given half a chance.

Around the time Civil War broke out, Bellefonte’s very own, Andrew Curtin, became Governor of Pennsylvania. This native son was a fierce champion for equality and a close confidant of President Abraham Lincoln’s throughout the war. Governor Curtin was in staunch opposition to slavery and fought fiercely to wipe it off of the American map. He was an important man in United States history, and one that represented a side of Bellefonte that so many current residents still stand strong for.

Among the several stops on the Railroad were the Saint Paul AME Church, the Linn House (which now houses the Bellefonte Art Museum), the Samuel Harris House (home to Candace and Bob Dannaker; she’s a former mayor of Bellefonte), and the William Harris House (aka, “The Wren’s Nest,” home to Ted and Carla Conklin ). Here are some pictures of these stops on the Underground Railroad.

IMG_9809 St. Paul AME Church-001

St. Paul AME Church

IMG_9812 Wren's Nest-001

William Harris House: aka The Wren’s Nest

IMG_9815 Samuel Harris House

Samuel Harris House

IMG_9813 Linn House-001

Linn House

Standing up for equality on Martin Luther King Day and every day, as was done here in the 1800’s, is the legacy we need to perpetuate here and across the country.

I’ll do my part. Will you?

 

Swearing-In of Public Officials for Centre County and Bellefonte Borough Council

Every two years, Bellefonte Borough elects about half of members of the nine-member council and every four years, we elect our Mayor.  This year, five people were elected to four-year terms on council and one person was elected to a two-year term to fill a position that was vacated by a former council person. In addition, this was the year we elected our Mayor.

Their terms start on Monday, January 1, 2018.  But since January 1st is a national holiday, the county decided to hold the swearing-in ceremonies for the county-wide offices and for Bellefonte Borough on Friday, December 29, 2017.  We hold his joint swearing-in ceremony at the same time because the county seat is located in our borough of Bellefonte.  All of the other municipalities hold their own ceremony.

I was sworn into office two years ago but decided to attend today’s ceremony in honor of my fellow colleagues. I was able to snag a front-row seat and was, therefore, able to record each of their oaths of office.

The program started at 9 am.  As people entered the courtroom, we were each handed this program listing all of the participants and the oath of office.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were six people sworn into county-level offices by the four currently seated judges on the Court of Common Pleas.

Retiring Judge Thomas Kistler administered the oath of office to President Judge Pamela Ruest who retained her position for another ten years. She is the first female to have served as a Centre County Judge and is now the first women to hold the position of President Judge. Once she took her oath of office, President Judge Ruest administered the oath to everyone else.

The county-level officials sworn into office include two Court of Common Pleas judges – one new (Brian Marshall) and President Judge Pamela Ruest as well our new District Justice Casey McClain (D), our new District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (D), and one new (Jason Moser (D)) and one re-elected (Hope Miller (R)) Jury Commissioner.

Most of the new public officials brought their immediate family to stand with them when they were sworn in. One person—Bernie Cantona—invited his entire extended family to stand with him.  I don’t know how many people that was, but it looked like at least 1/3 of the people in the courtroom joined him up front when he was sworn in as the new District Attorney:

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna 20171229_091439

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (D) and his extended family at the swearing-in ceremony.

Once the County-level officers were sworn in, the judges then swore in Mayor Tom Wilson and five of the six Bellefonte Borough Council Members.  Evan Duffy, the individual elected to the two-year term was not present and will be sworn in at a later date.

Newly sworn-in council members and mayor 20171229_092854

Newly Sworn-in Members of the Bellefonte Borough Administration. Left to Right: Council Member Jon Eaton, Council Member Michael Prendergast, Mayor Tom Wilson, Council Member Randy Brachbill, Council Member Melissa Hombosky, and Council Member Anne Walker.

Meanwhile, here are videos of the Bellefonte members being sworn into office.

Mayor Wilson (R) was sworn into his second term as Mayor.  Prior to being Mayor, he had served as a member of the Council.

The first member of Council to be sworn in was G. Michael Prendergast(D). He will join me in representing Bellefonte’s West Ward.  This is his first term in public office.

Following Mike, Anne Walker (D) was sworn in. She too is a first-time member of the Council and will also be joining me in representing the West Ward.

Melissa Hombosky (D) was next to be sworn in. She represents the North Ward and this will be her first full four-year term; she was appointed to a vacated seat by the previous Council in the spring of 2016 and will now serve a full four-year term.

Randy Brachbill (R), representing the South Ward, was next to be sworn in. He has served several terms on Council and most recently has served as Vice-President of Council. New officers will be elected out our first meeting on January 2, 2018.

Following Randy, Jon Eaton (D) was sworn in. Jon is representing the North Ward with Melissa Hombosky. He is another first-time member of Council.

Evan Duffy (R) will be sworn in on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, for a two-year term. He will be representing the South Ward and will be up for reelection in 2020.

The remaining three members of Council who were not sworn in today will stand for re-election in 2020. They are myself (D) representing the West Ward, Doug Johnson (D) representing the North Ward, and Renee Brown (R) representing the South Ward.

With this new makeup, Bellefonte Borough maintains gender parity with four women and five men serving as council members. With this gender parity, civility now reigns on our council. I agree with Renee Brown; we are now held more accountable to the public. I believe that’s the way it should be. (You can read this article  on gender parity in the Centre County Gazette to see why the women on Council generally feel this way.)

I’m looking forward to working with all of the members of Council—both male and female. Congratulations everyone!

Women’s Law Project Statement: Why We Strongly Oppose Senate Bill 3

A 20-week abortion ban is moving through the PA House of Representatives. This bill, known as SB 3, also criminalizes the D&E form of abortion. It passed the Senate last winter and on December 4, 2017, it passed out of the House Health Committee. It is currently listed on the House Calendar for a vote by the full PA House of Representatives on Monday, December 11, 2017.

If you live in Pennsylvania, take a moment and call your state Representative. Tell her/him that you oppose SB3 and that it is an assault on women’s reproductive rights and health. Then say, “Please vote no this bill, and instead support laws that put women’s health first.”

Here’s a link to an easy-to-use call-in action page. It will link you to your Representative and provide a short message calling for a NO vote on SB 3.  This link is provided to you courtesy of Keystone Progress.

Thanks for your activism.

WLP Blog

PENNSYLVANIA–The Women’s Law Project strongly opposes Senate Bill 3, which passed the state House Health Committee last night by a vote of 16-10, along partisan lines.

“Pennsylvania politicians just advanced an unconstitutional bill that seeks to throw doctors in jail for providing standard medical care for their patients,” says WLP Senior Staff Attorney Susan J. Frietsche. “They are using discredited junk science to justify it, and repeatedly refusing testimony from real doctors, or their constituents. Anyone not seriously alarmed at both the goal and the process here is not paying attention.”

By criminalizing D&E, a common and safe medical procedure, for no medical reason, SB3 mandates substandard care for women. By criminalizing all pregnancy termination after 19 weeks for no medical reason, SB3 would force doctors to refuse standard medical care for patients facing crisis pregnancies, forcing them to carry unviable pregnancies to term, against their will and despite…

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History Shows Disaster of Tax Bill

History appears to be repeating itself. We’re heading towards another economic cliff with this Republican tax proposal. As my husband said this morning, we don’t need or want this devastating tax cut that’s being proposed. And neither does anyone else we’ve talked to.

Nel's New Day

Over a century ago, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This saying applies to the disastrous tax bill moving through Congress. “The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” tax raises for the poor and middle class (to paraphrase the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s classic) has passed the House, and another one, probably worse, has moved from committee to the Senate floor after GOP senators were bought off by bribes. Historian Robert S. McElvaine wrote this perspective from the past to illustrate the nation’s future: “I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.” The piece is subtitled “Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.”

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous…

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How To Tell If A White Person Is Racist With One Simple Question

Note To My White Self

If you want to quickly determine if a white person in the United States is comfortably racist, I’d recommend a single question. Ask them, “Should our nation pay reparations to black people for the enslavement, mistreatment and economic exploitation of them and their ancestors over the past four hundred years?” If they immediately reject this proposition, you can be fairly confident you’ve identified a comfortable racist. On the other hand, if they’re willing to give this question serious consideration, you’ve probably identified an ethically responsible and racially conscious white person.  It’s really that simple.

There is simply no compelling argument against the payment of reparations. The studies and research have been done.  The historians, economists and ethicists have spoken.  While there can and should be considerable debate over how reparations should be made, any white person who argues against reparations is either ignorant, immoral, racist or all of the above. …

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Single-Payer Health Care: Debate on Smart Talk

This morning (October 2, 2017), the local public radio station in Harrisburg, PA aired a program on universal health care, often called single-payer health care or Improved Medicare for All.  They presented a debate between insurance industry members, legislators, and advocates for single-payer health care.

Three women holding up posters that say

Advocating for Medicare for All – a universal, single-payer healthcare program. Photo Courtesy of National Nurses United.

The radio clip that I’m embedding below discusses HB 1688, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan.  This bill was reintroduced in the PA House of Representatives on Friday, September 29. It is a state-based universal health coverage for residents of Pennsylvania via a single-payer health care payment program which redirects Medicare and Medicaid funds into a single state funding program where 9 out of 10 people will have reduced healthcare costs and where you get to select your own doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals. Decisions about treatment are made between the healthcare provider and the client.

The debate on both the state and federal ideas for universal health care follows Rep. Pam Delissio’s summary of her bill. Here is Part 1 of the debate on SmartTalk:

And here is Part 2 of the debate on universal single-payer healthcare:

Rep. Delissio has been the prime sponsor of HB 1688 for the last three sessions of the PA General Assembly. Here’s a 2016 presentation on the Pennsylvania Healthcare Plan by Representative DeLissio on her bill. FYI, the bill number did not change between the current and last session.  So when she talks about HB 1688, she is presenting essentially the same plan (with some minor tweaks).

Muslim Ban 3.0: More Countries, More Complications

picture of people marching down a city street carrying a banner that says, "Stop Trump's Muslim Ban."

Protest rally opposing Trumps Muslim Travel Bans. Picture courtesy of Microsoft’s Clip Art

Yesterday I attended an hour-long townhall presentation put on by the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. This town hall discussed Trump’s new travel ban that was issued on Sunday, September 24, 2017, and fully goes into effect on October 18, 2017.

The Proclamation is entitled, “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.”  What is it and what are its effects?

What I learned there yesterday is what I would like to share with you today.  Here are some questions, as a non-lawyer, that I will attempt to answer in this blog:

  1. What is a proclamation and how does it differ from an executive order?
  2. What countries are affected by this expanded ban?
  3. What happened to Sudan?
  4. When does this ban go into effect?
  5. What are the bans “rules?”
  6. If you are an international, what kind of help might be helpful?

Note that most of this information came from the Center for Immigrants Rights Clinic and two advocacy groups: the Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.  Thanks to all three of these organizations for helping to disseminate this information on this new, expanded Muslim and People of Color Ban – Version 3.0.

Several federal district courts entirely blocked Ban 1.0 as a constitutional violation of Freedom of Religion. Ban 2.0 was a streamlined version of Ban 1.0 and was partially allowed to go into effect last June. Both were executive orders. Muslim Ban 3.0, issued last Sunday, focuses on the people being rather than the agencies than ordering what the federal agencies need to do.  It was a Presidential Proclamation, not an Executive Order.

Proclamation v. Executive Order

We rarely hear of Presidential Proclamations but often hear of Presidential Executive Orders.  Ban 3.0 was promulgated as a proclamation rather than an executive order.  I wondered what the difference was.

The effects, in my opinion, are relatively the same.  The difference seems to differ on only who (or what) they are ordering.  All US presidents have used both of these regulatory instruments that have the effect of law unless overturned by Congress or the US Supreme Court for superseding presidential authority. This power is loosely based on Section II of the US Constitution. The Constitution states, “executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States,” “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,” and “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The differences between the two, according to the Yale University Library, is based on the focus of the targeted entity in the declarations.

  • Executive Orders are the formal means through which the President of the United States prescribes the conduct of business in the Executive Branch. They relate to how and what executive agencies do.

  • Proclamations, unlike executive orders, are aimed at those outside of the government. Proclamations can grant presidential pardons, commemorate or celebrate an occasion or group, call attention to events, or make statements of policy.

The first two immigration statements (aka Ban 1.0 and  Ban 2.0) were Executive Orders.  They ordered the State Department, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol, among the many federal agencies to prohibit the immigration and landing of Muslims from entering the United States. Ban 3.0 was a Presidential Proclamation.

Good Proclamations v Bad Ones

The most famous Presidential Proclamation was President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862; it went into effect on January 1, 1863. This Proclamation freed the slaves, ensuring the end of the bondage of Blacks when the Civil War ended.  This Proclamation, along with the 14th Amendment ratified soon after the Civil War ended, granted full citizenship to permanent residents regardless of race.

The Emancipation Proclamation says, “Welcome!” In contrast, Trump’s Banning Proclamation, essentially says, “Go Home. Don’t come here. We don’t want you. And here’s who we don’t want.”  As you can see, proclamations can do good as well a bad.

This most recent proclamation, just like the Emancipation Proclamation, has the force of law. The result, however, is not much different than an Executive Order.  Bans 1.0 and 2.0 tell the agencies what they need to do. Ban 3.0 tells targeted individuals to “stay away,” or “we will deport you.” Unlike the two previous executive order bans, these restrictions listed in this proclamation are indefinite. BAD (and “Sad”).

Who is affected by this Ban? The Expanded Ban

So, who is Trump saying to go away?

Bans 1.0 and 2.0 solely targeted citizens of Muslim/Islamic religious-dominated countries. The new Proclamation targets citizens of 8 countries – 6 Muslim/Islamic-dominated countries, an Asian country, and a Latino/a country. Trump says all eight countries are a security risk.

Fyi, Muslim refers to people who follow the religion of Islam.  These two terms can be used interchangeably. I’m using the religious term below for each country based on how they are commonly described.

These countries are:

  • Chad – a central-African Muslim country;
  • Iran — a Middle-Eastern Islamic country;
  • Libya – a North-African Muslim country;
  • Somalia – a Muslim East-African country;
  • Syria – a western-Asian Muslim country; and
  • Yemen – a Middle-Eastern Muslim;

The two non-Muslim countries that have been targeted are:

This expanded list adds Chad as well as these two non-Muslim countries.  Some speculate that this was purposefully done to skirt the religious freedom protections of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. Either way, it still targets people of color and is discriminatory.

Trump Removed One Country from Ban 3.

Ban 2.0 listed seven countries where their citizens are banned from entering the United States.  His original ban included the six Muslim/Islamic countries listed above as well as Sudan. Sudan is a North-African Islamic country. Ban 3.0 no longer targets citizens of this country.

Why did Trump’s proclamation delete citizens of this country from the ban?  We don’t know. Much of the rationale is, at least partially, a state secret.  Trump won’t say why.

Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a magazine I rarely read, commented this way (and I agree with them):

“Obviously, it goes without saying that a travel ban is a gross and un-American way of handling immigration, but the removal of Sudan from the list is interesting and raises a lot of questions.

And here’s the transcript of what Trump said when asked about the removal of Sudan – a muddling of what’s going on here.

 

 

The Details

When does this ban go into effect?

This unending travel ban has two different start dates.  According to Penn State Unversity’s Law Center for Immigrants Rights Clinic, the effective dates differ based on whether or not the banned country is listed in Executive Order EO 13780 (aka Muslim Ban 2.0).

For the five countries still listed from that Executive Order (Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen), any national who lacks a “bona fide relationship” with someone or entity in the US was immediately banned from entry into the United States on September 24, 2017.

For the remaining three countries (Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela) that were added to this Proclamation’s travel ban, all restrictions and limitations on travel to the United States, regardless of a “bona fide relationship” take effect at 12:01 am on October 18, 2017. This additional level of restrictions also becomes active for the five original countries on this date.

Who is being denied entry?

That depends on which banned country you are coming from, The Proclamation does  the following by country of origin:

  • North Korea and Syria: entrance to the United States as an immigrant or non-immigrant is denied;
  • Chad, Libya, and Yemen: entrance to the United States as either an immigrant or visiting the US on business or as a tourist is denied (visiting US-based family members appears to be ok);
  • Iran: entrance to the United States as either an immigrant or as a visitor is denied UNLESS you are entering under an F (full-time educational programs), M (technical or vocational programs), or J (research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange) visa. Extra scrutiny will be done with people seeking this exception;
  • Somalia: entrance to the United States as an immigrant is denied. Visitors (i.e., “non-immigrants”) will be subject to additional scrutiny (which as far as I can tell, is not described in the proclamation); and
  • Venezuela: entrance to the United States as a visitor either for business or pleasure is denied IF you are on the list of certain Venezuelan government officials; this ban is also extended to their family member. Visitation and/or immigration by others from this country is still allowed.

What is a Bona Fide Relationship?

According to Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Fact Sheet:

Foreign nationals who can claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S. include:

  • Individuals who have a close familial relationship in the U.S. This includes parents (including in-laws and stepparents), spouses, fiancées, children (including in-laws), siblings (including in-laws), half-siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

  • Individuals who have a “formal, documented” relationship with a U.S. entity that was “formed in the ordinary course.” Examples of such a relationship include: students who have been admitted to a U.S. university; workers who have accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. company; and lecturers who have been invited to address a U.S. audience.

 

Who from these targeted countries are exempt from this travel ban?

Again, according to According to Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Fact Sheet:

  • Lawful permanent residents (green card holders);

  • Those admitted or paroled after the effective dates in Section 7 of the Proclamation;

  • Those with an otherwise valid document – rg. a transportation letter, appropriate boarding foil, or advance parole document – on the Proclamation’s effective date;

  • Dual nationals when the individual has a passport issued by an unaffected country;

  • Those traveling on diplomatic visas such as a G visa;

  • Those granted asylum, admitted as a refugee, or granted related relief.

Waivers to the Travel Ban

Section 3 of the Proclamation does allow for waivers on a case-by-case basis. Since waivers are vague and based on interpretation and how the individuals present themselves, access to these waivers might be limited, in my opinion. Once again, I’m not a lawyer, but I would recommend that people from these targeted countries seek legal advice from a qualified immigration attorney or clinic before attempting entry to this country to improve their odds of obtaining such a waiver.

The Fact Sheet states that waivers can occur under the following circumstances.

  • When denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship and their entry would not pose a threat to national security or public safety, and would be in the national interest; and

  • On a case-by-case basis. Case-by-case waivers may not be granted categorically, but may be granted in individual circumstances such as:

    • Those previously admitted and outside the U.S.;

    • Those with established significant contacts with the U.S. but currently outside the U.S. on the effective date;

    • Those seeking to enter the U.S. for significant business or professional obligations;

    • Those seeking to visit or reside with a close family member and whose denial would cause undue hardship;

    • Those who are an infant, a young child, an adoptee, or in need of urgent medical care or with those with special circumstances;

    • Those employed by the U.S. government; and

    • Those traveling with purposes related to business with the U.S. government or on behalf of certain international organizations.

The Center for Immigrant Rights Clinic gives further details on these waivers.

Section 3(c) of Presidential Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities & Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats includes a waiver scheme for certain nationals who would otherwise be suspended from entering the United States. The burden is on the foreign national to show that his or her entry (A) denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship; (B) entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States; and (C) entry would be in the national interest.

The Proclamation states that case-by-case waivers will not be issued categorically, and goes on to list the following ten situations in which a waiver would be appropriate:

  1. the foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry would impair that activity;

  2. the foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation for work, study, or other lawful activity;

  3. the foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations;

  4. the foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfullyadmitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship;

  5. the foreign national is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case;

  6. the foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee), and the foreign national can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government;

  7. the foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. 288 et seq., traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA;

  8. the foreign national is a Canadian permanent resident who applies for a visa at a location within Canada;

  9. the foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor; or

  10. the foreign national is traveling to the United States, at the request of a United States Government department or agency, for legitimate law enforcement, foreign policy, or national security purposes

In reading the additional information on these waivers, several items popped out to both the lawyers and me at the Clinic.

First, “undue hardship” is not defined in either the immigration statute or in the regulations.  This term only appears in the Muslim Bans 2.0 and 3.0.  The term that does show up in the rules is “extreme hardship.”  And that term doesn’t define family separation or relocation as an “extreme hardship.” So I could see someone, on a case by case basis, being denied a waiver under section 3(c), reason A, even when she can show that they are not a threat to national security (reason B) and their entry is in the national interest (reason C).

Second, who defines what “the national interest” is?  I could easily see a consulate employee denying entry simply because their definition is limited to say, for example, a need for a high-level employee but not for that person’s family to accompany her.

Third, what does national security” actually mean? Since many of the decisions on the travel ban seem arbitrary (for example, each country has differing levels of scrutiny and types of bans based on the proclamation’s reasoning for the travel ban), how would a consulate employee make a fair decision on security?  The question is what type of levels of evidence would be required to pass this test.

And finally how long would each applicant have to wait before a waiver decision is made? Keeping people in limbo, particularly when family members are separated, is stressful, intimidating, and hateful.

Bottom Line

All three travel bans are incongruent with our country’s history of welcoming open arms. Our Presidential Executive Orders and Proclamations should all be following the sentiment proclaimed at the base of Lady Liberty, aka the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Instead, our government is telling the world and people of color, especially people from Muslim and Islamic countries to “stay away, ” or “we will deport you.”

If you are interested in seeing a video of the town hall, click here.  The PSU Law Immigration Clinic’s Powerpoint presentation on Trump’s Travel Ban can be also reviewed by clicking on this link.

If you are a foreign national, be aware of what this proclamation does.  Search for and contact an immigration lawyer to help you circumnavigate these torturous waters. Here’s an immigration attorney search link I found that might help . And don’t leave the US if you are already here without first determining if you are likely to be able to return.