Archive for March, 2017

Travel Ban: Intent Unchanged

According to various media outlets, President Donald Trump is planning to sign a new executive order to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries today. This executive order changes the mechanics of the previous order, now allowing current visa-holders in and excluding Iraq, but not the intent. Instead, the executive order achieves the objectives of the previous one, but in different ways. After all, the new executive order was crafted in order to survive a legal challenge in the courts. We need to remember that, while the wording has changed, the reasons why the order is being signed, and what it aims to do, have remained entirely the same – to reduce the amount of immigrants, writ large, from entering the United States, and begin firmly establishing a cultural identity in the United States.

1. Keep Muslims Out: There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that the Trump administration aims to keep Muslims out with this ban. In a publicly aired interview on Fox, former potential Trump administration appointee said that Trump specifically asked him how to legally implement a Muslim ban. The President himself has publicly stated, on his campaign website (which links to polling done by a conservative think tank which hired a conservative poll company), that he wants a complete and total shutdown on Muslims entering the country. It is still present on the website, and has not been taken down since, suggesting that he still agrees with that statement. Moreover, top White House adviser Steve Bannon has repeatedly said a wide range of islamophobic comments, in an apparent desire to start a 21st century holy war.

2. Does Not Prevent Terrorism: There have been no terrorist attacks from the seven countries mentioned in the previous travel ban, since it was signed. Accordingly, everything that was true prior to that ban, specifically, that there have been three non-deadly attacks by people from Iran and Somalia in the past 16 years (compared to 20,629,970 total violent crimes in the US in the same time period, or 0.0000001%), and nobody has been killed in attacks by people from those seven countries in the United States for thirty years. None of this has changed for the past month. There is no basis for the claim that this travel ban prevents terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Instead, it probably does quite the opposite – slamming a door of hope shut on potential hopeful idealists in oppressive regimes, allowing those very regimes to have a stronger hold over them.

3. The ban is indefinite: The previous executive order included the following language:

After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals… At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.

Section (3)(d), referenced above, states:

Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b)…

Section (3)(b), referenced above, states:

The Secretary of Homeland Security… shall submit to the President a report… within 30 days of the date of this order.

These sections line up to basically say, that 90 days after the signing of the order, a new, indefinite travel ban will go into effect. This turns the 90-day temporary ban, which is discussed in the executive order, into a permanent ban.

4. Part of a Broader Anti-Immigration Agenda: Many ex-CIA and ex-State officials correctly claim that this ban does not advance any national security agenda. Rather, this ban advances more broadly President Donald Trump’s agenda of reducing the total flow of immigrants into the country. While many may think that reducing immigration is a good thing, the difference with what the President’s moves do, is that he wants to reduce immigration totally – without respect to talent, values or personal initiative on the part of the immigrant, but rather with respect to their cultural and religious identity. The travel ban on Muslim-majority countries contained the special provision for Christian refugees, demonstrating that while no Muslims (irrespective of talent, values or personal initiative) can enter the country, Christians of any talent, values of personal initiative can. President Donald Trump is using a false national security premise to keep Muslims out of the country. Moreover, the border wall being constructed with Mexico, which does not serve any tangible national security or undocumented immigration purpose (kind of like building a wall with Canada), does the same thing – it is a physical demonstration that Mexicans are not welcome in the country. While it is akin to building a wall with Canada in relation to its lack of security or undocumented immigration purpose, President Trump is building a wall with Mexico, not Canada, because he wants white immigrants, not Hispanic immigrants. It is to control the cultural flow of immigration.

5. First of many steps towards Cultural Homogeneity and Economic Nationalism: Steve Bannon publicly laid out his fascist view of the world at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) recently, to thunderous applause. The immigration ban, in addition to the moves outlaid above, is the first of many steps towards establishing the Trump/Bannon view of who is an American. It does so by restricting the influx of new members of other cultures into the United States. It is akin to containment – if we want to constrain and restrict members of groups we deem unwanted, we first stop their growth. One day, this will expand to the Trump administration’s desire to deny birthright citizenship to undocumented immigrant’s children – which he publicly laid out in his campaign manifesto (search for, “end birthright citizenship”).

Unfortunately, the new ban will probably be upheld in the courts. As long as the new executive order does not ban family members of current citizens and green card holders from obtaining visas, it falls within the prerogative of the Executive to provisionally revoke nonimmigrant visas and applications for any reason. Nonimmigrant visas are basically all visas (including student visas) except green cards. However, this does not mean that the order is justified – just because the President can do something, does not mean they should, especially not in light of the above.

As the President signs the new order, we should reject any and all claims to the effect that the order is increasing the security of our country. We should not even discuss it – it has already been argued, and established clearly, using data and evidence, that the executive order does not do this. Rather, the President is playing on people’s fears and amplifying their misconceptions in order to create an alternative reality, in which he can carry out the agenda outlined above. In discussing the new executive order, we should focus on what it really is – an anti-immigrant (broadly writ) policy that targets people who are not a part of Trump’s vision of who is an American. By stopping the influx of such people, President Donald Trump can get to work on defining what and who is American, and Bannon will eventually get the state he is striving for.

While there may not be people stopped at the airports this time, nonetheless, the reasons for protesting are all the same – to protect the rights of minorities, to protect freedom of religion, and to protect an inclusive, multicultural vision of America.

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