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U.S. Removal of Terrorist Entry Ban Sparks Concern Over Iran

A graduation ceremony of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Tehran on June 30, 2018. (Salampix/Abaca/Sipa USA via AP Images)
A graduation ceremony of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Tehran on June 30, 2018. (Salampix/Abaca/Sipa USA via AP Images)

The Biden administration announced Friday its decision to lift a ban on entry into the United States to address issues related to Afghanistan. According to reports, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, State, and Attorney General consulted with one another and determined that the entry ban would not apply to individuals with little connection to a Foreign Terrorist Organization under regular social transactions. The decree did not mention specific terrorist groups like the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) but promised to assess whether individuals with little connection to terrorist groups do not pose “a national security or public safety risk,” leaving it vague as to which groups previously under the ban can now travel to the U.S.

Officials explained that individuals who satisfy the current agency authority and do not willingly and knowingly engage in terrorist activities on behalf of designated terrorist organizations will not be prevented from seeking entry into the U.S. and can even obtain immigration benefits. However, the decree by top Biden administration officials stated that this exercise of power could face revocation out of caution and without any notice or time.

As part of the criteria, individuals must prove that they have not provided, engaged, or sponsored past material support with any intent or desire to help terrorist organizations and their activities against noncombatant persons, U.S. citizens, U.S. government officials, and U.S. interests. When asked by reporters about the ban lift, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price stated that the actions address issues related to Afghanistan and not towards individuals who received military training from the IRGC or are Iranian conscripts of the terrorist group. 

Since the specifics are not mentioned in the announcement, it will take time to see how the Biden admin begins its implementation.

On social media, analysts and national security experts explained the dangers of the administration’s actions, explaining that such measures make it potentially easier for terrorist operatives inside and outside the U.S to operate on American soil. Countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran have vowed to assassinate several U.S. officials, from former President Donald Trump to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, over their policies against the regime.

Others point out that the State Department’s decree does not mention terrorist military training nor does it mention that it limits it to Afghanistan, making such actions incredibly broad. Many note that anti-American regimes like the Islamic Republic have gained entry into the U.S. and Europe, disguising themselves as regular citizens and garnering intelligence for their governments or terrorist organizations.

After the death of IRGC General Qasem Soleimani in 2020, the Islamic Republic under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed that the U.S. would pay for the killing of the Quds Force chief no matter the costs. Following the attack, the Islamic Government has indicated its intent to target Trump administration officials, prompting security concerns from members of Congress, urging the administration to increase security for American officials and enact sanctions against Iranian threats. The Biden administration has been reluctant to engage in sanctioning the Islamic Republic of Iran, given that U.S. officials are hoping to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran and not upset their Iranian counterparts in the negotiations. U.S. officials in the ongoing Vienna talks have tried to get Iran to forgo its vengeful vows on Trump administration officials, offering concessions like the removal of economic sanctions on Iran’s economy and the delisting of the IRGC from the Foreign Terrorist List (FTO). In response to Washington’s concessions, Iran has refused such offers from the administration, promising to act soon.

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