Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Why Trump's Anti-Muslim Immigration Ban Is Ineffectual

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Why Trump's Anti-Muslim Immigration Ban Is Ineffectual

Article excerpt

TO QUOTE FROM The Wizard of Oz: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Or perhaps William Butler Yeats: "All changed, changed utterly." Recent weeks in American politics has been like a tornado destroying everything in its path.

U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order on Jan. 27 that placed a 90-day ban on immigration and on refugees from seven predominately Muslim countries and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees ignited a firestorm across the United States and the world.

Thousands of Americans flooded airports across America to protest the ban and cheer those who were eventually allowed to enter the country. World leaders, even some senior members in Trump's own Republican Party, condemned the move, saying it would lead to increased, not less, terrorism. Yet the Trump administration, despite a bit of dancing around, stood firm and refused to back down. There are two reasons for this, one legal and one political.

A 1952 immigration law gives the president the right to bar any class of people considered "detrimental to the interests of the United States." Politically, Trump knows his base loves it. While his overall popularity declined in a recent Gallup poll, it rose several points among Republicans. A recent Pew poll indicated that 48 percent of Americans questioned said they wanted tougher immigration standards and 42 percent said they did not.

So, with the wind in his sails, why might Trump's executive order be in trouble in the long run?

One word-sloppiness.

Several media outlets reported that the executive order was not vetted by White House counsel, the Department of Justice (whose lawyers usually go over every executive order), the Department of Homeland Security or the State Department, and that lawyers for the National Security Council were prevented from looking at it.

It also turns out that officials at Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services were not informed of the action until Trump was signing it.

This process led to mass confusion at airports across the United States, particularly after a series of judges issued injunctions against the executive order. Were Green Card holders, who had already been vetted by the government, going to be allowed in? In some places yes; in some places no. …

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