US on Trial: Trump’s Muslim Ban

 

“When Trump talks about how he would smash ISIS, kick twelve million people out of the country  and bring China to its knees, just once I would like a reporter to ask: ‘How did your career as a reality show host prepare you to do these things?’ ”                                                                                               – Andy Borowitz

 

Intro: Trump Cards

 

In 2015, with a group of students from different universities, we have established a think tank start-up: Bosphorus Migration Studies. After two years, we have splitted into four research groups that each of them responsible for a particular issue. As the name we have, everyone interested in migration-related issues all over the world. Mine was the American immigration system including green card holders, illegal immigrants, readmission agreement with Canada, and so on. After Trump’s inauguration, I had no doubt that we won’t lack of research topics. Actually, Trump did what he said boastfully: Put a ban on entrance of Muslims!

So, we published four articles (1 2 3 4 5) about Trump’s controversial immigration policy

For the paper, I’ve scanned over ten archives of online newspapers. So, I’ve used over forty articles & news in the paper. Now, the paper covers the contents of the executive order, protests, effects, a chronology of the legal process, and conclusions.

 

1. Trump’s Executive Order

The most striking point was the 3-months ban for the citizens of seven Muslim majority countries like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. This is why many described the executive order as Muslim Ban. Trump insisted that it is not against Muslims but it is just an order about some Muslims known with terrorist allegiances: “…it’s not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror (…) it’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems. Our country has enough problems without allowing people to come in who, in many cases or in some cases, are looking to do tremendous destruction.”

Secondly, he halted the refugee admission for 4 months across the country. The Obama administration has the number 110,000 for refugee admissions per year. However, Trump tried to lift the number to 50,000, just after he has started to work. With the order, he achieved his goal totally. While readmission and relocation caused serious debates across the world, Trump’s such move raised questions on the moral leadership of the US. Because resettlement of refugees is still a big challenge for the developed countries.

It is a disputable issue even within the EU Member States. Then, the Commission started infringement process against the Member countries. Hungary, Poland, and The Czech Republic rejected resettlement plan of the Union. That’s why, Trump’s executive order distract too much attention than normally it has.

Besides, as many developed countries pledged to take a particular amount of Syrian refugees, the US has a specific resettlement program for Syrian refugees. The order also halted this scheme indefinitely. 

Lastly, religious identities will also play a role in the acceptance procedures. The text did not mention the name of a particular religious group: “Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religiousbased persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” However, Trump emphasized that in his speech, Christians will now be given priority: “If you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very tough to get into the United States (…) If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians.”

 

2. Reactions

Some regions have refused to cooperate with federal agencies to “arrest for informed immigrants” for crimes other than immigration-related issues. On January 25, Trump issued an order. It includes threats to reduce the resources of the municipalities in sanctuary cities that did not cooperate with the Federal Immigration Offices. In addition to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, the “challenge” that many cities participated in was a sign of a wave against the “Muslim Ban”.

A group of senators against these rulings declared that they would start a legal battle on the grounds that the Constitution was violated. Chicage Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: “I want to be clear: We’re going to stay a sanctuary city. There is no stranger among us. Whether you’re from Poland or Pakistan, whether you’re from Ireland or India or Israel and whether you’re from Mexico or Moldova, where my grandfather came from, you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American dream.” After the signing of the Order by the President, the reactions continued to increase.

 

2.1. Protests

– On January 25, thousands of people gathered in the Washington Square Park against Trump’s Muslim Ban. Council of American-Islamic Relations, the organizers, is an active NGO mostly appeared in issues pertaining racism, Islamophobia, and other sort of discriminations.

– On January 27, a group of Jews from the Am Shalom Synagogue organized a welcome organization at the International O’Hare Airport for the last Syrians to reach the United States without the order coming into force.

– There were numerous demonstrations in Europe. From the third day of the announcement of Muslim Ban, thousands of people marched for protesting the order in European cities, including London.

  • Turner Park, Ohama, the US

– A total of 134 foreign policy experts from various institutions issued a manifesto stating that the decision would put US’ global leadership into danger.

– American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has shown strong opposition throughout the process, pioneering street protests as well as actively following courts.

 

2.2. Political Leaders

Immediately after the release of the Muslim Latter, reactions from various parts of the world rose:

– The Iranian Foreign Ministry described the decision as “an open attack on the Islamic World”, but said reciprocal measures could be taken in return.

– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent the following message from his official Twitter account: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”

– Angela Merkel’s press spokesman from Germany explained that Ms Merkel reminded Trump of his responsibilities to the refugees who escaped from violence in a telephone conversation with President Trump.

– Many politicians from the United States argued that Muslim Ban poses a threat to basic American values. They said that it endangered the moral leadership of the US in the world. Senator Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter, “To my colleagues: don’t ever again lecture me on American moral leadership if you chose to be silent today”, sharing the photograph of Aylan el-Kurdi, who has a dead body in Bodrum shores and shocked the world in a day.

– Some far-right politicians welcomed the ban with posting support messages. The most remarkable one was Geert Wilders of Netherlands thanked the President on Twitter: “Well done. It’s the only way to stay safe and free. I would do the same. Hope you’ll add more Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia soon.”

 

2.3. Business World

There are also a lot of reactions from the Karara business world. The most striking of these were:

– Google CEO Sundar Pichai, an Indian-born US citizen, reported that Trump’s order affected 187 company employees.

– Apple CEO Tim Cook said they did not support the decision.

– Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on his personal account that the US should open its doors to those who need help.

 

3. Effects

 

– Hundreds of people at various airports after the order had trouble entering the US. Despite the absence of problems in their documents, officials did not allow them to enter.

– Since the status of Green Card holders is unclear in the first place, there has been confusion in some areas. However, the President’s adviser, Donald McGahn, announced that the new regulation did not cover persons with legal residence permits.

– American Council on Education announced that the travel ban affected nearly 13,000 students and graduates.

– Amnesty International prepared a report covers the stories of 38 people separated from their families after the first ban.

– The country has applied for the 2024 Summer Olympics. So, the arrival of the athletes from the six countries entered into danger. It was a great problem because they can enter for any organization held in the States.

– Iraqis and their families, who are working as interpreters, trainers, civil servants in US military missions in Iraq, have had problems entering the US.

 

4. Refugees and Terrorism

Speaking after approving the Executive Order in the Pentagon, Trump said: “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”  Trump described Syrian refugees as “potential ISID spies” during the election campaign. Recalling the September 11 attacks, Trump explained the legitimacy of the Muslim Ban by saying, “We will forget the lessons we have taken from this and the people who died.” However, none of Saudi Arabia, BAE, Egypt and Lebanon, which had the citizenship of the terrorists who carried out the attacks, were not covered by the ban.

The close cooperation in the oil and arms trade with the Saudi administration led the ban to skip this country. Also Trump’s large investments in the region also made it possible for the Emirates to remain outside the ban. Let’s note that Trump has a golf club in Dubai and a hotel venture in Saudi Arabia.

Here, CATO Institute’s 1975-2015 study of terrorist attacks in the U.S is noteworthy. The possibility for losing live in a terrorist attack organized by a refugee is 1/ 3.5 billion.

Only a few of the mortal attacks in the US since September 11 have been organized by Muslims. During this period, over 230,000 people lost their lives in various attacks, including white racists and extreme right-wingers. Since the Sep11 attacks, 123 people lost their life in the attacks committed by people who associate themselves with Islam.

So the connection between terrorism and the refugees coming the US is not reflecting truth. Trump generally legitimize the ban with concerns on national security. However, refugees or Muslims coming from those six countries consists only a very small portion of the crimes.

 

5. Legal Process

 

– January 28: In New York, a federal court ruled that the order violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The court said that the persons should not be sent from the country. However, the White House stated that the court cases won’t affect the practice of the Ban.

– Jan 29: A court in Massachussets decides to temporarily halt the Ban. It came after the application made by the lawyers of two academics with residence permits. On the same day, Trump explained that his decision had to be taken within the framework of security measures. The president added that he was behind his decision.

– Jan 30: Trump fired Attorney General Sally Yates due to her opposing stance to the controversial executive order. It raised the debate about judicial independence in the States.

– February 3: A court in Boston refused to renew Massachussets’ temporary suspension order. Thus, Trump had his first success on legal ground. On the same day, a regional court ruled to stop the order nationwide. Rejected people re-took approximately 60,000 visa registrations.

– Feb 5: A federal appeals court rejects the Government’s application for the immediate reinstatement of the ban. Before the final decision, the court asked both sides to complete their arguments for defence.

– Feb 9: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the request of reinstalling the ban.

– Feb 16: Trump announced that he will reveal the new revised ban soon. He implied that the tailored one would have some differences.

– March 6: Six weeks after the signing of the controversial decision, the White House announced a new executive order. Compared to the first one, Trump administration removed only Iraq from the list.

– Mar 15: The Hawaii Federal District Court decided to stop the new regulation.

– Mar 29: A court in Hawaii decided that the ban not to continue until the preparations for defense are complete. The chief prosecutor likened the order to “a neon light burning as a Muslim ban.” The court stated that the decision would harm the tourism industry. It also caused to raise discrimination against Muslims. On the contrary, the Government continued to argue that they prepared the order only for national security purposes.

– June 13: The 9th Court of Appeal approves the decision to stop the executive order. Trump criticized the decision as follows: “Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again – Ruled against the Travel Ban at such a dangerous time in the history of our country.”

– Jun 26: The Constitutional Court ruled: The administration could partially apply the revised travel ban. The Supreme Court announced that it will heard the defense of the Government in the case in October. What’s important here was the court defines an exception in the order. Accordingly, individuals and legal entities that prove a bona fide relationship with the United States will not be covered in the regulation. These categories include foreigners who have family ties to registered US universities and people who work in the country. Trump, who described the Supreme Court’s decision as “a clear victory for national security”, said: “It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective. As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States. I want all of its citizens and who will be hardworking and productive. My No. 1 responsibility as commander in chief is to keep the American people safe. Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our nation’s homeland. I am also particularly gratified that the Supreme Court’s decision was 9-0,” he said in the statement, again saying that there was a voted decision although there was not.

– Jun 29: The State Department issued a briefing covers definitions of bona fide relations. On the other hand, the other condition of exemption, family ties, was identified as a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the U.S.

– Sep 7: A federal appeals court reopened the borders to refugees . It also upheld a lower court decision that had exempted grandparents and other relatives from the ban. In the statement, the judge claims:  “A resettlement agency provides pre-arrival services for a formally assured refugee and engages in an intensive process to match the individual to resources even before the refugee is admitted. These efforts, which the formal assurance embodies, evince a bona fide relationship between a resettlement agency and a refugee.”

 

Image result for trump muslim ban

Conclusions

The most controversial executive order of Trump has begun to active in the States. Either partially and or in revised form, it will affect thousands of people who try to enter the country. 

We generally talk about the three brances of the state: executive, legislative, and judicial. Especially the relationship between the president and the judicial branch was so interesting. For instance, Trump decided to dismiss the attorney general just because of his opposing views. This would give a sense about how Trump is planning to make his goals real (!). This does not mean “the judicial branch is dependent to the president.” The courts would decide against the president. Even Trump criticizes those orders with a few twits, it doesn’t mean that he can deny the court orders.

 

Let’s take the recent order. Since the Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority, the decisions are binding. So,there is no way for an appeal process. The ban will be valid as of late June, despite all the strong criticisms. The debate around the order seems to have vital importance in many ways:

Sanctuary cities added a new dimension to the federal-local tension that often comes to the fore. Trump’s threatening expressions to those cities also signaled that the problem may move to other areas soon.

– The Supreme Court’s partial approval would open the door to Trump’s further “security measures”.

– The ambiguity of the expression of bona fide relations in the Supreme Court order can lead to interpretation in different forms. However, a new judicial process may start after defining which of the relations are bona fide or not.

– The implementation of the Muslim Ban has set an example for right-wing politicians who have taken similar “precautions” in Europe. It will not be surprising that similar designs in the coming weeks will come to the public in Europe.

– Stopping refugee admission would undermine the claim to “moral leadership”, as Senator Chris Murphy clearly stated.

– In the dispute within the EU over the resettlement, the executive order will strengthen countries opposed to the resettlement schemes.

 

Despite all the reactions from, Trump continue to claim that the ban does not imply discrimination. So Trump will continue to mention national security matters. For this reason, it should not be surprising that similar and even harder regulations are coming soon.

My specific interest is especially about the relationship between the president and the judges. The US is one of the legendary examples of the rule of law. In Turkey, many people bring examples from how American judicial system works without an intervention comes from the executive branch. However, after Trump, I’m concerned about the possibility of emergence of a Turkish-style administration in the US. Yes, it is very hard to imagine but Trump teaches us we have to be cautious always.

 

Mehmet Enes Beşer
Director (BMS Europe)
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