FLASHBACK: Jimmy Carter Temporarily Banned Iranians From Entering US


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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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President-elect Donald Trump has provoked the ire of the media with his proposal to stop Islamic terrorism through suspending visas to people from dangerous “areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume.” But this proposal is not a novel approach.

Former President Jimmy Carter temporarily banned Iranian citizens from entering the U.S. during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980.

Carter’s statement on April 7, 1980 unequivocally declared that the U.S. government:

Will invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.

Carter’s declaration came five months after the Iranian hostage began, along with several other policies intended to compel Iran’s revolutionary regime to release the U.S. diplomats. Carter also expelled Iranian diplomats from the U.S., prohibited all U.S. exports to Iran and froze all of Iran’s assets.

Carter left the door open to further punitive action if the hostages were not released, continuing “the steps I have ordered today are those that are necessary now. Other action may become necessary if these steps do not produce the prompt release of the hostages.”

Carter’s 1980s actions draw stark parallels to Trump’s campaign pledge to bar entry to citizens from countries that may pose a danger to the U.S. Item 6 of Trump’s transition website notes he will “Suspend the Issuance of Visas to Any Place Where Adequate Screening Cannot Occur.”

Trump’s proposal is in line with his Aug. 15 campaign speech outlining his approach to Islamic terrorism and immigration. Trump declared “As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.”

Following the suspension of visas, Trump pledged to institute “extreme vetting” of prospective immigrants from dangerous countries. This extreme vetting would impose an idealogical test for prospective immigrants designed to filter out “members or sympathizers of terrorist groups” and those “who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.”

“A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” he declared.

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