President Obama on Friday issued an LGBT-inclusive proclamation that bans immigrants and non-immigrants from entering the United States if they have engaged in serious human rights abuses abroad.
This proclamation grants the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the discretion to prevent entry into the U.S. for those deemed to have committed serious human rights abuses while in other jurisdictions. The proclamation would also preclude entry for those who have “attempted or conspired” to commit such abuses.
The United States enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law requires that its Government be able to ensure that the United States does not become a safe haven for serious violators of human rights and humanitarian law and those who engage in other related abuses. Universal respect for human rights and humanitarian law and the prevention of atrocities internationally promotes U.S. values and fundamental U.S. interests in helping secure peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and prevent humanitarian crises around the globe. I therefore have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of certain persons who have engaged in the acts outlined in section 1 of this proclamation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.
Section 1. The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of the following persons is hereby suspended:
(a) Any alien who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in, including through command responsibility, widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population based in whole or in part on race; color; descent; sex; disability; membership in an indigenous group; language; religion; political opinion; national origin; ethnicity; membership in a particular social group; birth; or sexual orientation or gender identity, or who attempted or conspired to do so.
(b) Any alien who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in, including through command responsibility, war crimes, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of human rights, or who attempted or conspired to do so.
It should be noted that the discretionary element to this proclamation does not necessarily mean that all persons who have committed serious human rights abuses while abroad will be precluded from entering the United States. Rather, this would seem to create a general rule that the Secretary of State can waver if, as the proclamation puts it, to do so would be in the interests of the United States.
Human rights groups have praised the proclamation as an important development.
Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said the order gives the Obama administration “an important tool to use in dissuading extremist actions that are prejudicial to basic human rights, and in encouraging the development of inclusive laws and societies.”
“The Council praises this move, which could in principle be used to justify the exclusion of hate-promoting politicians like Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati, who introduced a ‘kill the gays bill’ in a previous legislative session in Uganda and may do so again,” Bromley said. “That bill, of course, would have carried dire consequences for LGBT individuals in Uganda.”
The Human Rights Campaign also praised the move, calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to move swiftly to implement this change.