In early February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco unanimously struck down President Donald Trump’s executive order that banned refugees and members of seven Muslim-majority nations from the U.S. With the signing of an updated order on Monday, we now face the administration’s second attempt to advance this backwards policy that […]
In early February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco unanimously struck down President Donald Trump’s executive order that banned refugees and members of seven Muslim-majority nations from the U.S.
With the signing of an updated order on Monday, we now face the administration’s second attempt to advance this backwards policy that does nothing to keep our country safe.
Yet, no federal agency or intelligence has been able to justify the Trump Administration’s repeated assertions that refugees and immigrants from these Muslim majority nations pose a real threat.
In fact, a recent Department of Homeland Security report assessing the terror threat by people from the seven countries affected by Trump’s initial travel ban casts doubt on the necessity of the executive order.
In an effort to defend this Muslim ban mulligan, White House advisor Stephen Miller was perhaps a little too honest during a town hall hosted by Fox News about a week ago.
Miller, who (with no legal expertise) insists upon the legality and constitutionality of the first executive order, said that there will only be “minor, technical differences” in response to the judicial ruling and that, “fundamentally, you are still going to have the same, basic policy outcome for the country.”
The Trump administration has been very clear that Christian refugees will be given preference, but how will that actually work?
Let’s assume for a moment that a terrorist or a group of terrorists from any one of these nations wants to harm the United States. Is there anything that would prevent them from saying that they are Christian so as to gain entry into our country?
Applying a little bit of common sense would have prevented the Trump Administration from trying twice to enact what amounts to a religious test for entry into our nation.
Both executive orders are draconian and xenophobic. They stem from the false idea that there exists some magical list of countries — Muslim-majority or otherwise — from which banning travelers could keep us perfectly safe from any future attack. Yet, there have been zero deaths caused by immigrants from the seven banned countries since 1975, and so the ban makes no strategic sense.
Moreover, if the ban were really about national security, the administration would not have delayed its re-release twice — including once to ride a short-lived wave of positive press after the President’s first joint address to Congress.
So this latest iteration of the ban is still ineffective, but its slight tweaks make it no more palatable than its predecessor, either.
The deletion of language that appeared to give priority to Christian refugees from predominantly Muslim countries and the removal of Iraq from the list of countries do not change what is a fundamentally flawed policy that abdicates American leadership — and I for one still reject this executive order on every level.
I have served in the U.S. Army for over 16 years.
During my deployment to the Middle East, I have seen the pain and suffering of these local nationals up close. Many would ask me what is it like to live in the U.S., and I would tell them about a country that welcomed me as an immigrant when I was only 2.
I told them how my family struggled and taught me that I could do anything I wanted to do, if I just worked hard enough. I told them that we celebrate diversity because the success of our nation depends on it.
Our shared values as Americans demand that we stand against tyranny and welcome all those who seek shelter from senseless violence and bloodshed.
We must welcome those who have suffered great losses and are searching for a new home in which to begin a safe, new life — those like Nael Zaino, a Syrian refugee who was hoping to reunite with his wife and American-born son in California.
When he was about to board his flight to LA and meet his son for only the second time, Nael was denied entry because of the president’s first executive order.
This is but one of so many stories that illustrate why this ban cannot be allowed to stand. Even with exemptions for those who worked with the military and clarifications for green card holders, the fact remains that the United States has a method for vetting refugees, immigrants, and visitors; this policy adds nothing to that process but cruel treatment for some and international embarrassment for all.
Given that, as Miller said, the policy outcome of this ban remains the same as the first, President Trump will surely find himself facing litigation in courts across the country (as he so loves to do).
It will take incredible strength, persistence, and acuity on our part to fight as a nation against this administration’s illegal, immoral, and ineffective policies. But weeks’ worth of protests, legal action, and human kindness since the signing of the first executive order have clearly demonstrated the indefatigable, unquestionably resilient American spirit.
And it is this American spirit — founded on the unshakable belief that our nation thrives when it is open to all who need a safe home and who strive to create a more peaceful, prosperous world — that will unite and inspire us in facing a government running on fear and hate.
Lt. Col. Kamal S. Kalsi is an ER doctor and a U.S. Army officer who deployed to Afghanistan and has served in the military for 16 years. He currently serves in the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion at Fort Dix as a disaster medicine expert in the Army Reserve. He also serves as a member of Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.