The Obama administration has relaxed some of the rules for hopeful asylum seekers wishing to come to, or remain in, the United States and who, in the past, have shown “limited” degrees of approval for terrorists and terrorist groups. Last month President Obama pledged to make more executive directives during his State of the Union address and this is one of his first actions since then.
The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security now say there is now no automatic ban for anyone who has provided “limited” support to terrorists to come to the United States. The provision in immigration law, referred to as terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds, which were enacted in the wake of September 11th, affected anyone that was judged to have provided anything seen as support and has been rigidly applied to all those attempting to come to the US and people already in the country attempting to change their status.
The Department of Homeland Security says that the change merely allows the government to be able to exercise more discretion but does not open the door to terrorists or terrorist sympathizers to come to the United States. Anyone seeking US visas, asylum or refugee status will still be investigated to ensure they pose no threat to public safety or national security.
Previously, the provision has received criticism due to the fact that it allows almost no exceptions except for acting under duress or providing medical care, but the government can now take into account other factors such as routine commercial or social transactions.