By JAYNE CHUNG
Recently, President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling the United States to ban entry from seven predominantly Muslim countries and suspend the US refugee system, already one of the most severe vetting systems in the world, for 120 days. The ban, essentially a probation of a specific religious group and reminiscent of ideas more typically related to hate groups or terrorist groups, was spurred, as President Trump so eloquently explained, by “death,” according to a spokeswoman.
The order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” has sobering consequences: following the order, hundreds of thousands of approved refugees, valid visa-holders and US legal citizens are at risk of being barred from the United States. The ban is a culmination of terrorist mentality and widespread Islamophobia in the United States; it is not only unconstitutional and irrational but cowardly and injurious to the United States.
First, the fact that the order was issued on Holocaust Remembrance day ironically demonstrates a clear lack of tact or respect for history by the current President. The ban lacks any logic in that, though it parades the September 11 attacks as the rationale, exempts the countries of origins of the hijackers of the terrorist attacks and, interestingly, the countries where the Trump family conducts business. The number of citizens of the seven Muslim-majority countries targeted by the ban arrested on charges of domestic terrorism since September 11 is an astounding zero. Moreover, Trump announced the ban as Senator Ted Cruz overtook support for Trump in Iowa and other states; several Republican strategists believe the ban to be a “challenge to Mr. Cruz and other Republicans to stake out positions on terrorism that were as audacious as his own,” according to the New York Times.
For the supporters of the ban, the order is blatantly and unapologetically unconstitutional in that it violates the First Amendment clause of freedom of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment clause of equal protection. Though the Justice Department argues that the president has an “unreviewable authority” to suspend the entry of any groups of foreigners, there is no plausible case for banning all Muslims and refusing refugees, especially as America itself was founded by those escaping religious persecution. The Islamophobia that was largely present in Trump’s campaign now permeates his presidency and the whole of the United States through the Muslim ban. The ban threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of legal citizens or valid visa holders in the United States and bars immigrants who may contribute positively to the nation through innovation in technology, medicine and more. The ban is illogical, self-defeating and potentially dangerous to the nation in that it bolsters terrorist groups rather than protecting the citizens of the United States. It acts as a catalyst that will prompt more Muslims who have been harshly rejected by the United States to favor extremist groups who can now trumpet the United States’ clear hostility.
The ban vilifies and dissociates America from all Muslims, including allies in the Middle East and the soldiers who risk their lives for American military operations. Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country. Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and the former Democratic presidential candidate, called the idea “reprehensible, prejudiced and outlandish,” and Angelina Jolie, envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times denouncing the ban. On the other hand, Republican leaders such as Jim Mattis, who initially described the proposed Muslim ban as “lost faith in reason,” and Paul Ryan, who initially discredited the idea, now remain silent; they should realize that history will remember them as cowards.
U.S. District Judge James Robart temporarily blocked the ban by freezing all relevant provisions based on the likelihood that the plaintiff, Washington state, will prevail in challenging the legality of the ban. Lawrence Bartlett, the State Department’s director of refugee resettlement, quickly complied to rebook travel for refugees, and airlines are again allowing passengers from the seven countries with valid visas to travel. All over the nation, citizens of all races and religions protested the ban despite risks to their safety, as was the case with the rabbis who were arrested after protesting in front of Trump Tower. On Thursday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco unanimously rejected the bid to reinstate the ban, dismissing the claim that the ban furthered national security and that the courts had no power to review the President’s national security decisions.