Sunday, January 29, 2017

There is no Muslim ban

On January 27, 2016 US Senator Elizabeth Warren Tweeted, “Let’s be clear: A Muslim ban by any other name is still a Muslim ban.”   There is the hashtag #MuslimBan.  Memes on Facebook “ACLU blocks unconstitutional Muslim ban.”  Protesters at Kennedy Airport with signs reading, “Christians against Muslim Ban.  Linkage to the Holocaust!  CNN banner “Executive Disorder.”  Huffington Post – “Blueprint for mass deportation.”

There are 52 countries in the world that are at least 50% Muslim.  President Trump’s Executive Order PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES suspends the “Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern” for seven countries - not the 52 Muslim countries.  The words Muslim or Islam do not appear within the Executive Order.

There are seven countries of particular concern - Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The population of these seven countries is 205 million - 16% of the 1.2 billion people in the 52 Muslim countries.   The motivation for selecting these seven countries are security concerns, not the fact that they happen to be predominantly Muslim.

President Trump did not choose the seven countries – President Obama did.   President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 on December 18, 2015.  Senator Warren voted in favor in the Senate.   The Act included the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 that, in addition to other security measures, ordered the Department of Homeland Security to determine which countries should be treated differently.

In February 2016, DHS released a statement adding “Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern” to the existing list of “Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals.”

There was no outcry of a Muslim ban when Senator Warren voted in favor of the bill, or when President Obama signed the Act into law, or when the Obama Administration’s DHS Secretary, Jeh Johnson issued the list of countries of special concern.  Why now, when President Trump issues temporary halts to the programs and concerns identified in the law President Obama signed for a review period is there a storm of outrage – because it is political.

President Trump appears to have acted within his authority to issue the Executive Order.  A full reading of it and associated laws and regulations reveals it to be lawful and constitutional when compared with actions taken by other presidents, but legal challenges are likely from the ACLU and others so the courts will ultimately decide.

The actions President Trump has taken are consistent with his campaign pronouncements and likely are consistent with the desires of those who cast votes for him in the election.   As they read that he has ordered a REVIEW of visa and refugee policy, and a temporary halt to approvals in countries President Obama designated of specific concern, they will think the actions seem reasonable.

When those who oppose President Trump elevate every issue and action to hyper levels of concern they reveal the true nature of the concerns are not security or morality, but political.   This can over time wear thin and potentially be counterproductive to their efforts.

The Trump Administration did err in its implementation of this Executive Order.  A lesson should be learned to vet these actions more thoroughly.  In the meantime, the Executive Order gives Secretaries discretion in its implementation.  They should exercise that discretion to lay moot the suits brought and to alleviate the burden on people with a Green Card or those who spent months or years getting approved to enter the country as refugees only to be stopped at the last moment.


  1. President Trump was asked on January 27, 2017 by David Brody of the CBN television show The Brody File if he saw Christians as a priority for his refugee policy. Trump responded, “They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least 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. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”
    I checked the state department database to see if President Trump was exaggerating on the religious affiliation of refugees coming from Syria. He was not. Refugees affiliated with Christianity were .58% and Muslim refugees made up 98.86%. Christians have been in decline in their historical homelands of the Middle East for a hundred years. But the last decade has seen a violence and intimidation of the Christian communities, and other religious minorities there like no other. The low percentage of refugees surprised me.
    The President was asked about Christians and he expressed sympathy for their plight. But the president’s statement was not one of exclusivity for Christians. In fact, the Executive Order does not refer to Christians, but to religious persecution in general and particularly against those who are a religious minority.
    Section 5(b) of the Executive Order orders the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security, within existing law constraints to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality.” They are also instructed to recommend any needed legislative changes to the Refugee Admissions Program and associated laws after the 120 review period that would assist in that prioritization.
    The President of the United States has discretion in these matters to try and identify groups that are suffering and try to bring some balance and fairness to the process. To place an emphasis on the religious minorities of the Middle East is justifiable and fully consistent with the value the United States places on religious freedom.
    In 2011, when President Barrack Obama issue “Presidential Memorandum -- International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons” he included actions to ensure that the refugee program was trained and focused to help such folks into the pipeline because there was persecution, but ISIS had brought it to new gruesome levels. It was his prerogative to make a judgement about that vulnerability and to instruct the agencies to respond appropriately.

    President Trump has the same prerogative.

  2. Dan, You have once again hit the nail on the head! The mainstream media and the President's political antagonists only push out half truths and in some cases total lies and misleading information in an attempt to undermine the Presidents attempt to secure our nation. What fool wants to live next door to rapists, terrorists or murderers if it could be prevented? The President has never stated he wanted to stop immigration only stop ILLEGAL immigration. Why should the American tax payer foot the increased expense in our schools, hospitals and social services programs for people that should not be here!!! BTW some of the strongest supporters of President Trumps initiatives are immigrants who came here LEGALLY!!!!
    Wake up America


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