Did Trump implement a similar travel ban as Obama did in 2011?

Travel Ban

The Travel Ban Debacle

The Claim:

In January 2017, Donald Trump said, ““My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”


Donald Trump never claimed that his refugee and travel ban are identical to Obama’s implementation of a ban on Iraqi refugees. Many fact-checking websites claim that Trump’s statement is a lie or false and that there are many differences between what Obama did in 2011 and what Trump did in 2017.

The truth is that Trump’s policy DOES have similarities to Obama’s, who was forced to implement his program in secret because of the potential for public backlash. Trump did the opposite, implementing his as a televised executive order, since vetting of refugees was a campaign promise he made. This led many journalism outlets to accuse the Trump administration of not having a credible threat to initiate such a ban, but rather doing it on the basis of politics and emotion. They also claimed Obama did have a credible threat for his ban based on a case where Iraqi refugees sought to acquire weapons after they were in the United States.1 Other MSM sources like CNN and MSNBC went further, claiming that the ban is based on racism and xenophobia, not the possibility of terrorism.

Of course, those who make these statements don’t have actual proof that the government doesn’t have intelligence pointing to threats from the seven countries on Trump’s list. They merely assume race, or religion, or a campaign promise is the underlying factor behind the ban. Yet, this claim is readily debunked with evidence from the Obama years. Trump’s ban was based on a list of countries previously identified by the Obama administration as having a high-risk for terrorism.2 The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act was signed into law in December, 2015. This law contained language restricting admission of an individual into the United States if they had traveled to Iraq, Sudan, Iran, or Syria within the past 5 years, or have held dual citizenship from one of those countries. Obama then proceeded to add three additional countries to the restriction list in February 2016, including Somalia, Libya, and Yemen, except Obama permitted entry into the U.S. of dual-citizens from these countries. There was almost no opposition whatsoever in Congress, the mainstream media, no accusations of racism or xenophobia, and no threats of lawsuits against Obama for what he did.

Yet, Trump, who implemented similar restrictions, but added a ban on refugees, receives a near-meltdown among the public, the MSM, and even members of Congress. Chuck Schumer, who previously said that Syrian refugees needed to be “paused” after Paris attacks, held a press conference where he cried on camera about Trump’s ban and claimed it was “mean-spirited.”

Needless to say, Trump is likely telling a closer version of the truth than the media and “Fake Tears” Chuck Schumer.


1 Michaels, Jim. Trumps Refugee Order not Same as Obama in 2011. USA Today. 30 January, 2017.
2 Vespa, Matt. Friendly Reminder: Obama Selected the List of Countries in Obamas Executive Order. Townhall. 29 January, 2017,
3 Bolton, Alexander. Schumer: Refugee pause may be necessary. The Hill. 17 November, 2015.
Editorial credit: Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock.com