On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for a period of 90 days.
Now, it’s Monday, and the uproar from the media and the public is still thundering, and I doubt that the disenchantment people feel will subside anytime soon.
Before I state my own opinion, I encourage everyone to read the text of the executive order in full. Try to push aside what the media, friends, or family members have been saying about the act, and form an opinion for yourself. You can find the link to the text here.
Despite the apocalyptic spins that are circulating the Internet, there are some parts of the order which are acceptable, and some parts of the order which are not as dire as they are being made out to be.
Overall, however, there are large problems with this executive order that must be addressed by the administration as soon as possible.
First, it is a good thing that the administration is taking into account the national security concerns that come from admitting refugees and immigrants without the adequate vetting procedures. A revamping of this process is needed in order to not only keep American citizens safe from terrorists who may be posing as refugees, but also to help refugees by making the process as straightforward as possible yet effective at the same time.
Section 4 of the executive order states some of the mechanisms that will be put in place to improve the vetting process. Section 7 also states that there will be expedited completion of the biometric entry-exit tracking system, which, when completed, will be able to track whether a person has overstayed their visa.
This is an important program because, without a biometric system, when the State Department revokes someone’s visa on the grounds that the individual has committed an act of terror, they cannot determine whether that person is still residing in the country. Completion of this system would greatly help in preventing future terrorist attacks.
Unfortunately, this is probably the extent of the ‘good’ part of the executive order. In my opinion, there are 4 significant flaws with the order that have led to a myriad of misconceptions and outrage.
First – and most importantly – the order was poorly worded, which has led to miscommunication throughout the country on what to do with certain types of people who are either entering or leaving the country.
We’ve seen this at a slew of airports. For instance, two Iraqi interpreters for the US Army were detained at JFK, even though they had been granted visas. They have since been released, but the two are filing a lawsuit against the government and President Donald Trump for this error in communication.
Additionally, the White House announced that the ban applies to green card holders, but that exact language is difficult to find in the executive order. This also makes no sense given that green card holders have already gone through a long, extensive vetting process.
In fact, some originally believed that the ban only applied to new immigrants, and that the order specifically allows for exceptions to the rule when it states: “Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”
However, since this executive order was sloppily written and therefore not interpreted correctly, it left many even more confused and angrier at the Trump administration for not stating its intentions outright.
More than 24 hours later, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly reversed course, stating “In applying the provisions of the president’s executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.”
The fact that constant clarification is needed in order to execute this order shows just how sloppy the administration was in crafting the document.
The second problem, which feeds into the first, is that this action was taken too rapidly, and has resulted in a shoddy piece of policy. This type of reform should have been worked out properly in good time. A complex problem such as this requires a complex solution. As I said before, some of the suggestions in the order have the potential to improve the system, but if no one can figure out to whom the reforms apply and what they are in the first place, it is a failed policy.
This is Trump’s fault because he reportedly did not consult the DOJ, the State Department, or DHS on what the order should contain. He briefly spoke with Customs and Border Patrol by phone on the day the order was signed, according to the New York Times. Overall, however, these reports suggest that Trump didn’t even slightly consider the input of the agencies that deal directly with immigration and refugee issues on a day-to-day basis. This is the third problem with the order – even the parts that were theoretically beneficial may ultimately prove infeasible, since Trump didn’t bother asking if the reforms were possible.
The final problem is a lack of consideration for the long-term security effects. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) came out yesterday saying the following:
“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
The executive order, as Senators McCain and Graham allude to, adds gas to the fire for ISIS recruitment. Jihadists can say, “Here, look at the United States. We told you. They hate Muslims. Come fight with us so we can destroy them!”
Trump is thinking short-term. If we ban immigration from these countries for a short period, we can gather more intelligence on their governments and their people, and thus figure out the best way to properly vet those who would enter our country. However, in the long-term, this just gives terrorists more reason to target the United States.
Don’t get me wrong; there have been countless misstatements by media outlets, especially the propagation of the idea that this is a “Muslim ban.” There is no evidence of this in the text of the executive order, and out of the 8 countries with the highest Muslim populations, only one (Iran) is included on the list of nationals barred from entry into the United States. (It’s worth reiterating that this is largely the Trump administration’s own fault, since the order did not contain clear language.)
In my opinion, the executive order should be scrapped so that Trump, with the help of experts and Congress, can work toward a solution that is acceptable for everyone.