One week after his inauguration, President Donald Trump issued an executive order indefinitely halting the resettlement of Syrian refugees and temporarily banning people from seven Muslim-majority nations from traveling into the United States. This executive order exists at the cruel intersection of bigotry, incompetence and unconstitutionalism.
It is counterproductive.
It is embarrassing.
It is fascism.
It is hate.
And its effects are heart-wrenching. We must energetically and endlessly resist this executive order and its proponents.
From a constitutional perspective, this executive order is at odds with our nation’s core principles and should be universally regarded as unconstitutional. Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, right-wing extremists and two of President Trump’s closest advisors, are the likely authors of this executive order, which was implemented without consultation from proper legal counsel, corresponding federal agencies or most of Congress. Its spirit and execution runs contrary to the original intent of the Establishment Clause. Its ban on refugees ignores our nation’s roots in religious freedom. Its attack on lawful residents of the U.S. , many of whom possess green cards , violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Its convoluted and vague wording has sent the nation into hysteria and has paralyzed our federal agencies.
This executive order represents an extreme overreach of executive power, beyond even that of the Obama administration. Though six federal courts have issued stays on Trump’s executive order, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents and other members of the executive branch have been dismissive of the judicial branch, as agents continue to detain and even send back refugees and immigrants at airports. Judicial condemnation of this executive order includes a ruling by Judge James Robart — a George W. Bush appointee confirmed with 99 votes in the Senate — that ordered officials to maintain direct contact with airports in reversing the ban. Robart concluded that “the circumstances that brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripart government.”
In response to this ruling, President Trump immediately took to Twitter, questioning the court’s decision to fulfill its constitutional obligations: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” This tweet further demonstrates President Trump’s disdain for the separation of powers and the judicial branch. Furthermore, in a later tweet, President Trump blames Judge Robart for future terrorists coming to the U.S. That is misplaced. It is the president’s job — along hundreds of thousands agents — to prevent these terrorists. Judge Robart’s job is to ensure that president acts within the law and constitutional limits. If Trump is willing to undermine an equal branch of our government, he further threatens the state of our republic . (Trump evidently did not take PSCI130, “Introduction to American Politics” during his illustrious time at Penn — Rousseau and Montesquieu are spinning in their graves.)
Many critics focus on the irrationality of Trump’s ban. For example, they argue that the named Muslim countries exclude Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where the terrorists of 9/11 originated. They also insist that this travel ban plays into the hands of the nation’s enemies, emboldening ISIS and similar terrorist organizations. These arguments, with their varying degrees of validity, fail to address the executive order’s fundamental egregiousness: the indefinite ban on refugees from Syria ignores the international community’s culpability in the Syrian genocide, of which the U.S. played a part. Moreover, the temporary ban on travel from the seven Muslim-majority nations prevents the international exchange of students, ideas and researchers — one of the best methods of promoting enduring global ties and peace.
Finally, this executive order is rooted in a xenophobic ideology that has reared its ugly head innumerable times throughout American history against innumerable peoples. Advocates of this executive order are no different than those who turned away Jewish refugees from our shores just prior to World War II, including the 937 passengers of the MS St. Louis who were subsequently damned to Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau. American citizens and legislators must condemn Trump’s executive order without moderation. Our resistance to this executive order must include direct engagement and limitless empathy; to do otherwise is lazy and irresponsible. We must not be paralyzed by our fears or complacency.
ARI GOLDFINE is a College sophomore and the vice president of Penn Dems.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.