Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ban refugees and travelers of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, the affected states are as follows: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. People holding so-called green cards, making them legal permanent US residents, are included in the executive action. It is designed to prevent terrorists from entering the country but acts as a temporary blanket ban for any refugee coming to the US. This order shut the door to Syrian refugees indefinitely, and more than halved the number of refugees the country will take in 2017. Meanwhile, it caused international condemnation from leading human rights groups. A country led by President Trump will establish a very strict ban on the so-called Islamic States, although he said it is “not a Muslim ban.” After this order has been issued, there were already 11 people detained at New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) airport, out of the JFK people already gathered to protest. Without a doubt, there will be more people affected, particular citizens of the seven named countries from traveling to the US.
During Mr. Trump’s election campaign, he called for halting entry to the US from Muslim countries but later shifted the policy to a focus on what he called “extreme vetting” for those coming from countries with terrorism ties. He criticized Obama for accepting so many refugees, as well as Hilary, who planned to increase the number if she was selected. “[This is a] measure to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of America. We don’t want them here,” said Mr. Trump. He warned that the US should never forget the attacks of 9/11 or those who lost their lives in the Pentagon. Signing this executive order, President Trump believes that this order will effectively minimize the potential risk of terrorist attacks in the US.
Refugees are people fleeing terror, they are not terrorists. It is unacceptable to decide to save their lives or not based on where they come from and what their regions are. Various states and organizations responded to this order after being issued, and most reactions go against Trump’s move. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on the new President’s administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, a right protected by international law. They also call the US administration work with other agencies to ensure “vital” resettlement programs for people fleeing conflict and persecution, whatever their background. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said Mr. Trump’s “harmful and hasty” decision would impact thousands of innocent people, mostly women and children, awaiting resettlement to the US.
This executive order was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and a number of national Jewish groups and prominent individuals have drawn a direct line between the rejection of Jewish refugees during the reign of Nazi terror in Europe and the new refugee restrictions. For the descendants of the survivors and refugees who were given safe haven on American shores, the parallel is stark.
In one of the most infamous cases of American callousness to the plight of Jewish refugees, in 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt turned away the transatlantic liner St. Louis. The ship, which was sailing so close to Florida that the passengers aboard could see the Miami lights, was carrying 937 German refugees, most of them were Jews fleeing the Third Reich. With the United States unwilling to let the ship dock and refusing to take in those aboard, the St. Louis turned back to Europe. Almost a quarter of the passengers aboard were slaughtered in the Holocaust.
In a Facebook post, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the executive order “cruel” and a “departure” from America’s “core values.” She spoke of her own family’s history and America’s promise to refugees. “We have a proud tradition of sheltering those fleeing violence and persecution, and have always been the world leader in refugee resettlement,” she wrote. “As a refugee myself who fled the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, I personally benefited from this country’s generosity and its tradition of openness.”
Advocates are urging the 45th President of the United States to honor the country’s longstanding, bipartisan tradition of accepting refugees. “For decades, the United States has been at the forefront of resettling those fleeing violence, offering safe haven to hundreds of thousands of refugees in the aftermath of both World War II and the Vietnam War with significant bipartisan support,” the International Refugee Assistance Project said in a statement released after Trump’s electoral victory.
Trump’s executive order also requires periodic reports on foreign nationals in the U.S. who have been charged with or engaged in “terrorism-related offenses.” However, he may not get the kind of data he’s seeking: since 1990, of the 182 terrorists inspired by jihadist ideology who have attempted to carry out attacks in the U.S. or on U.S.-bound flights, 101 were U.S. citizens and “few” were “recent arrivals,” according to a testimony by the RAND Corporation. Of some 12 million people displaced from Syria alone, the United States only accepted 13,120 refugees by the end of last year. According to the Obama White House, as of late 2015, “not a single one” of those accepted from Syria have ever been arrested under suspicion of terrorism.
The following are thoughts that I would like to highlight and share with all of you:
First, it is unacceptable that Trump issued this executive order, as this move may be unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s Establishment clause, which prohibits the establishment of a national religion by Congress. As well, it may be unconstitutional due to the Due Process clause, which safeguards against arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the government outside of the law. On the other hand, some groups that support Trump’s order may sign to Federal law, Code 1182, which allows the President to bar entry to any immigrant “or any class” of immigrants if he deems them “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” and to “impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.” However, as far as I am concerned, this action lacks proper and comprehensive consideration. In addition, aside from being unconstitutional, this order is heartless, selfish, and opposes “American value[s].”
Second, it is unfair to target all seven Muslim countries, as ISIS does not represent all Muslims. In other words, being born or converting to be a Muslim does not mean that the region turns someone into being a terrorist. There were two major terrorist attacks occurred in the U.S last two years, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, was a U.S.-born Afghan-American, as well as Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the married couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. None of them had ties with the seven banned countries. Therefore, Trump does not seem to have enough reason to frame new refugees, by saying that immigrants will cause more terrorist attacks.
Lastly, it is understandable that Trump has taken it upon himself to make America safe again, but what his action show is how irrational he is. Without a doubt, protecting a country’s safety must be the top priority for the President, however, as the only superpower in the world, the U.S is responsible for the rest of the world as well. A great country does not equal to a selfish state, and the U.S is supposed to come up with more effective and comprehensive methods with a win-win outcome, which protects its security while solving the refugee problem. We still have hope to see if Trump will amend this order after four months, as it is a temporary order with an opportunity to change.
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