By Grant Smith, National News Writer
On January 27, Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769 titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
The order was an attempt by President Trump to fulfill his immigration-related campaign promises, specifically his promise to cease the immigration of Syrian refugees and to place a temporary ban on Muslim entry into the United States.
Specifically, Order 13769 suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, the acceptance of Syrian refugees indefinitely, as well as entry of foreign nationals from seven countries, among them Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, for ninety days.
Signed at 4:42 P.M., the order took immediate effect and caused scenes of confusion and chaos at airports throughout the country.
According to the New York Times, people of various backgrounds were detained at airports, denied entry, or in some cases were sent back to the country they had come from.
Among these were a Sudanese Stanford student returning from winter break, a scientist with arrangements to conduct research at MIT, translators who had served alongside the United States military, and Iraqi Hamdiyah Al Saeedi, who had plans to move to Fort Bragg, North Carolina along with her son, where he is a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division.
One point of controversy over order is not the nature of the provisions or the protests that erupted afterward, but instead involves its haphazard wording and rushed implementation.
Immigration parlance is usually
specific; however, Mr. Trump’s order speaks only in the broadest of language, leaving questions about the exact intent and extent of the order.
As for implementation, according to Reuters and the Washington Post several Department of Homeland Security officials did not know the order was even in the process of being drafted until they were instructed on how to enforce it.
For instance, Part Four of Executive Order 13769 declares that the government must develop a “uniform screening standard and procedure” for all individuals seeking to enter the United States.
While this section of the order has received little to no attention in the media storm surrounding the refugee ban it could very well be the most damaging provision.
The United States issues visas to applicants on separate timetables, where people considered to pose a greater risk to the United States undergo a more lengthy and arduous vetting process.
Following a week of uncertainty and chaos, two federal government agencies made separate announcements halting implementation of President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven distinctively Muslim countries gripped with internal conflict.
The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security both issued a temporary suspension of the travel ban imposed days earlier, according to the Huffington Post. The ruling came after a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide ruling that tentatively blocked President Trump’s order suspending visa holders from the seven countries from traveling into the United States.
To impose a “uniform standard” for all individuals seeking to enter the United States, regardless of their origin, poses logistical problems. In 2015 alone, more than 10 million people visited the United States on a visa, not including nationals of 38 countries – allies such as Britain and France – who do not require a visa to visit the United States.
According to part four of the document, all of these individuals would be forced to undergo the same screening standard and procedure as refugees, a 12-18 month process. “If interpreted as broadly as it’s written, it would basically shut down tourism,” said Stephen Legomsky, the former chief council for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, when being interviewed by Politico.
The Trump Administration for its part has responded to these criticisms with various strategies. Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway cited the nonexistent “Bowling Green Massacre” as a reason the travel ban is necessary. In addition, Press Secretary Sean Spicer has insisted that the ban is a “small price to pay for security,” and President Trump himself has defended the decision tweeting that “our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and indeed, the world – a horrible mess!”
The question arises however if American values have been compromised in the name of possible security. The United States has long rested on its claim of being a melting pot, where litanies of cultures have come together to form a unique and new land, a nation of immigrants.
During his successful 1976 campaign, President Jimmy Carter commented on multiculturalism in the United States saying, “We became not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, and different dreams.”
Indeed, many influential figures of the past century have come to the United States as immigrants. Albert Einstein was a refugee fleeing the Nazi regime when he came to America. Similarly, Henry Kissinger and his family were refugees fleeing European violence; Madeline Albright’s family emigrated from Czechoslovakia to escape violence and communism; Rafael Cruz, father of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, was a refugee fleeing the Cuban revolution when he came to the United States.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 7th print edition.
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