You’ve probably heard by now of Trump’s Executive Order on a seriously controversial issue:
Okay, but in all honesty, my head hurts from all the conversations and fact-digging and thinking about Friday’s EO regarding refugees. Talking about controversial issues is one of my favorite things to do. But this area of dealing with refugees (also immigrants and illegal immigrants) is one I find particularly challenging. There’s so much being said about this, and I’ve been trying to piece together as much as I can in the last couple days. This is my attempt at adding some sort of reasonable voice to the conversation.
We’ve all seen the photo of Omran, right? He’s the little boy sitting in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from bombed rubble in Syria. We’ve seen the videos of people looking for their relatives in makeshift hospitals after bombs were dropped. We’ve heard the stories of people losing family members and fleeing violence that is unspeakable. I’m fairly certain that any reasonable person with a heart finds those types of situations heartbreaking and horrible. So I don’t think this discussion is about are they suffering, or do they need help, or should we help – but about what our policies and procedures should look like.
Living during this time of constantly new and changing news is, I think, a huge challenge when it comes to issues like this. I started learning about this EO from friend’s posts on social media. What I heard at first pulled at my heartstrings and led me to read up on this. I’m no expert, but after a few days of clarifying information, I realize that most of what I saw others assume at first, and what many reasonable people would emotionally respond to, was actually wrong.
I’m not going to go through the text of the order line by line. But here are some of the key issues and/or objections I’ve seen:
How does a President have the power to just issue this?
Well, I thought it was kind of weird at first too. But he’s got the power. According to US law, “whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.” Scroll almost halfway down this page to see that part of the law. So yes, it’s legal. And not rare. President Obama used the same means of establishing temporary restrictions on visas and travel during his time in office. It’s apparently just what presidents do. And Trump was very clear where he stands throughout his campaign.
Trump selectively chose countries to ban people from where he doesn’t have business connections.
Honestly, where did this come from? Do we just assume he has business connections in every country? This list originated from a list of countries needing “further travel restriction”, per the Obama administration.
Trump is just trigger-happy issuing all these orders.
Did you know Obama issued his first EO the day after he took office? It’s apparently one of the most widely-know presidential actions. This is a really interesting table showing how many each president has issued.
Look at all the US citizens and green card holders being held up and not allowed to travel!
Yes, there was a lot of confusion about this. I was flabbergasted why, even if refugees were going to be paused, why on earth citizens and green card holders would be. Apparently the departments who enforce this kind of thing weren’t given much warning, so nobody was entirely clear on who and where people were being stopped from traveling. There were apparently 109 people detained at airports for further questioning, most of who were quickly released. This was, as far as I know, resolved the next day. It does not apply to green card holders. In fact, the order allows for people to still be cleared on a case-by-case basis.
This is just Trump being afraid of people who are Muslim. Stop the ban!
If this were an across-the-board ban on Muslims entering the US, wouldn’t that have been clear? Wouldn’t he have banned all people from all Muslim majority nations for an indefinite period? This is a temporary pause to evaluate screening methods. So this argument really doesn’t stand. I absolutely think we should allow peaceful people who are Muslim in our country. Nobody’s arguing that a peaceful person who wants to come here and has no ill intention toward the US (and happens to be Muslim) should be turned away.
Okay, actually, some people think all Muslims should be banned because of their adherence to Sharia law.
True. I think we can agree that Sharia law is incompatible with US values and government. After all, it’s a religious set of laws. Some of them are highly problematic and contrary to human dignity and free will. BUT, in a country without a national religion where we’re allowed to practice what we believe, I have a hard time believing allowing Muslims here would mean Sharia law will soon become law of the land. So while I don’t want that to happen, I don’t think it’s a good argument.
So how do we cope with this?
My greatest challenge personally is that I want to help people. I see the pain and violence and it’s horrific. I don’t know that as someone living in a non-violent part of the world, I can truly appreciate the gravity and terror of living in the Middle East right now. I firmly believe we have a duty to help our brothers and sisters throughout the world. I believe that as a rich nation (guess that’s debatable) who is also powerful, we must help the less fortunate.
What that looks like is up for debate.
It makes sense to me that we would take some time to evaluate our current processes. We should ensure, to the best of our ability, that we are keeping our country safe, right? I do think the abrupt nature of this EO’s implementation could have been far better. But overall, as I learn more and more about what’s going on, I am agreeing more and more with it. Perhaps we can find ways to aid our brothers and sisters from afar during this pause.
How are you coping with this? Did I leave out a point you think is important to discuss? I would love to hear your thoughts.