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Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday.
So, on Friday afternoon, U.S. President Donald Trump
signed an Executive Order that reshapes U.S. immigration law,
and there's been a lot of confusion about it, even within the Government,
about who's affected by this law and precisely what it means.
So I thought today I'd take a closer look at what the Executive Order actually says.
So first, the order bans, for a period of 90 days, all "immigrant and non immigrant"
entry into the United States from all citizens of seven nations --
Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
These seven nations seem to have been chosen
because they were cited in 2015 and 2016 laws
signed by President Obama that required residents of those countries
to get a visa to visit the United States.
But the Executive Order states that they can't enter the United States even with a visa,
although there are a few exceptions for diplomats.
So what does this mean? Well, for an Iranian professor at Yale,
it means that if she leaves the U.S. she won't be allowed to re-enter it,
even though she's a well-known opponent of the Iranian regime.
And for a doctor who is abroad battling a polio outbreak,
it meant being denied entry into the U.S. despite his visa to be here.
Now, I know those probably sound like particular examples of hard-luck stories,
but because people from those countries already needed visas
with specific reasons to visit the United States,
like visiting family, or studying, or working in a specialized field,
almost all the stories are hard-luck stories.
The Executive Order initially also seemed to apply to legal, permanent residents of the United States
who aren't citizens -- so called "green card" holders,
although the language in the order is extremely hard to parse, like, even to those within the government.
I mean, at one point on Sunday, Tump's chief of staff said the order "does not apply" to green card holders,
and then later, in the very same interview, said "of course it does" apply to green card holders.
But after much confusion and emergency lawsuits, it now appears that permanent residents
will not be subject to the ban.
It's also unclear from the language in the order whether it applies to dual citizens.
Like, if you're a Canadian citizen who was born in Somalia as Canada's Immigration Minister is,
there's still some confusion as to whether you can enter the U.S.
Now, critics of this part of the Executive Order,
and I should acknowledge that I am among them,
argue that it is really poorly targeted.
I mean, no foreign nationals from any of those seven countries
has killed even a single American in a terrorist attack. Ever.
In general, terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11 has been exceedingly rare.
Like, in the past decade, American civilians
are literally more likely to die by lightning strike than terrorism.
And notably, most of the attacks that do happen in the U.S.
are carried out by American citizens or permanent residents,
and those attacks wouldn't be prevented by the order.
Now, the counterargument is that there may be threats from these seven countries we don't know about,
but it's really hard to prove a negative,
like, it's hard for me to prove that I'm not a terrorist
because, how can you be sure I'm not?
Just for the record, in case Big Brother is watching -- I'm not.
"In case Big Brother..." de-- Big Brother is definitely watching.
Anyway, all of this is why concerns about the ban don't really fall along traditional left-right lines
like, the very conservative Cato Institute, for instance, said
there is "little national security benefit to Trump's executive order on immigration."
And many, although by no means all, Republican Congress people and Senators agree.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham, for instance, released a statement saying that
the ban may be remembered as a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.
And then there is the second part of the Executive Order,
which affects admission of refugees into the United States.
So back in 2011, the Obama administration dramatically slowed the process of refugee applications
from Iraq for 6 months, an off-sided precedent for what Trump announced on Friday
but this is very different.
Trump is suspending all refugee admission to the United States from all countries for 120 days,
and suspending all refugee resettlement from Syria indefinitely.
This appears to include people who've already been vetted, approved and received visas,
which is also very different from what happened in 2011
Side-note -- you may have heard that there is no vetting of Syrian refugees coming into the United States,
that is simply not true.
As discussed in this video, the process includes a huge variety of background checks and interviews,
and often takes more than two years.
The Executive Order also prioritizes (quote)
"refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution."
which Trump has said will mean prioritizing Christian refugees when the program restarts
although that's not actually stated in the order and it's not clear it would be legal.
For context though, last year the US accepted about 39,000 Muslim refugees,
about 37,500 Christian ones, and also 8,500 people of other or no faith.
But just to be absolutely clear, Muslim refugees who have been vetted and approved for admission
to the United States cannot currently get in, but neither can Christian or Buddhist refugees
for at least 120 days, nor can interpreters who served with the American Armed Forces in Iraq,
because no refugees are being allowed into the United States.
And this blanket ban also seems to me very poorly targeted.
For one thing, it lumps all refugees together, whether they're from Syria, or South Sudan, or Burma
Like, most refugees resettled in the United States in 2015 were not Syrian, they were Burmese.
But also, many Syrian refugees are victims of ISIS who can speak first hand about its horrors
and that is a moderating force, not a radicalizing one.
Imagining Syrians monolithically is as dangerously simplistic as imagining that
ending refugee resettlement will solve the US's security challenges.
I share John McCain's feeling that ultimately this kind of blanket ban will do more to help terrorist recruitment
than improve our security.
Now, Trump counters that it will make us more safe, and he certainly has access to top-secret information
that I don't have access to;
but given that these policies wouldn't've prevented a single US terror fatality from the last 40 years,
it's hard to see exactly how we're safer.
There are also other issues of legal confusion in the order, for instance, the order states (quote)
"The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution."
But as many Law professors have pointed out -- that's kind of ludicrous.
I mean, according to that sentence, if you are for instance, Canadian
and you support a parliamentary system of government over the system outlined in the US Constitution,
are you no longer legally allowed to visit Disney World? Because that does appear now to be the law.
Also, when foreigners attempt to enter the United States, as in most countries,
they have the right to seek asylum, and be interviewed by an immigration officer
to determine if the asylum seeker has a credible fear of persecution
but the Executive Order explicitly states that "no benefits" will be extended
to citizens of the affected nations when they attempt to enter the United States
and such an interview would probably constitute a benefit.
So as of now it does not appear that people are being allowed to seek asylum,
which is in violation of an existing US law, called the Immigration and Nationality Act,
which an Executive Order cannot legally override.
In short, no matter how you feel about immigration, this Executive Order is a hot mess
it is too ambiguous, self contradictory, and unclear to be effective law.
Now, I wanna emphasize that much of this may be moot in 3 or 4 months
as parts of the order expire,
but even if that occurs I worry we've already made a dangerous statement
that the US won't do its part in the refugee crisis,
and that we will discriminate based solely on place of birth.
I think those are mistakes. That imagining a diverse group of over 100 million people
to be some terrifying and singular Other only encourages others to imagine us that way.
It's hard to imagine people complexly, especially when you're being told to fear them,
but I found it helpful to listen, so I put together a playlist of refugees telling their stories
and ask you to listen to them, to believe them,
and to see them as people, instead of merely as threats.
Hank, I'll see you on Friday.
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Understanding Trump's Executive Order on Immigration

6718 タグ追加 保存
g2 2017 年 2 月 1 日 に公開
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