Bare Facts: Executive Orders, the Trump Muslim Ban and refugees in America.

This is the first in what I suspect might be a new series of posts. I’m trying to write up a ‘bare facts’ representation of what is going on in on-going political scenarios, with the intention that I can use the info in future blog posts. It also could be useful for you in your own day-today debates and defence. It’s always good to know exactly what you’re talking about.

So today I’m outlining some of the basic terms and ideas behind Trump’s recent ‘Immigration Law.’

Executive Order:

Among their many titles, the President of the US acts as the head of the Executive Branch to Federal Administrative Agencies. This means that the president can act with total authority over federal government operations and actions.

Executive Orders are contentious for multiple reasons. One is that they are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. There are only variants which can be interpreted in different ways.

The Executive Orders being passed at the moment are different from the usual legislative decisions made by the President, which can include directives, memoranda and determinations.

It can be argued the Executive Orders are not inherently bad. Many modern nations have held a practice of enabling top-down emergency orders. It is generally assumed that these powers will not be abused or over-used, particularly as the US maintains a system of ‘cheques and balances.’

The largest number of Executive Orders enacted by any President was 3.522, by Franklin D Roosevelt. This is often attributed to the sense of political urgency created by the Second World War.

Many people criticise Executive Orders for being undemocratic. These criticisms are based on a belief that large-scale policy changes with wide-ranging effects should be implemented with Congressional approval, and reflect the political mood of the country more widely.

Good information about Executive Orders can be found online. You could start here: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/orders.php

You can also read a full list of published Executive Orders online, most recent first: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders

 

Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order suspends “immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.” This will suspend the US Refugees Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, after which the program will be altered with conditions specific to different countries. These conditions are not yet known.

The order also suspends all citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. This act disregards visa status, or pre-existing agreements for travel.

The order also suspends entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely (read; not intended to be reversed). Exceptions will be allowed for, on a case-by-case basis. As such the Dep.t of Homeland Security has begun exempting Green Card holders from Syria.

This Order has been controversial for a number of reasons:

  • The immigration band has been deemed Islamophobic, racist, xenophobic and ant-Muslim by people who believe Trump is motivated by a desire to discriminate against immigrants based on race, national origin or religion.
  • People making these criticisms highlight that Trump has not banned travel from Saudi Arabia, Egypt or the United Arab Emirates; countries that are recognized by Trump’s government as terrorist risks.
  • It has been suggested that Trump’s personal business interests in these countries has skewed his view, but this is unconfirmed.
  • Trump has golf resorts, hotels, multiple companies and residential developments currently active in the aforementioned nations.

 

Is this Executive Order a ‘Muslim Ban’?

The ban completely suspends the United States’ Syrian refugee programme, which accepted 12,486 Syrians in 2016.

It is possible to claim exception to the ban, which allows Trump’s administration to prioritise applicants who belong to a religion that is a minority in their country of origin. This specifically includes Christians from the Middle East, and has ben suggested as evidence of discrimination against Muslims.

 

Green Card

A green card is a kind of permission slip which allows you to be a resident in the US if you were not born there. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services website defines it below:

“A Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a “Green Card.” You can become a permanent resident several different ways. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the United States. Other individuals may become permanent residents through refugee or asylee status or other humanitarian programs. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.”

You can find more information on their website: https://www.uscis.gov/greencard

 

Other

Donald Trump spoke numerous times throughout his campaign about his intention to ban all Muslim travel to and from the US. You can watch one of is speeches on the matter here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2015/dec/08/donald-trump-calls-for-complete-ban-on-muslims-entering-the-us-video

 

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