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Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ Disrespects the Constitution

Posted on Feb 2, 2017

By Sonali Kolhatkar

  Police officers and demonstrators at Los Angeles International Airport during a protest Monday by airport service workers. (Chris Carlson / AP)

In explaining how he would ensure that Muslim immigrants do not pose a threat to Americans, Donald Trump has said repeatedly that his administration would subject people seeking to enter the country to “extreme vetting.” Upon examining the language of the order, it is unclear if the president himself would pass his own litmus test, particularly when it comes to respecting the U.S. Constitution. The order states in part that “the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.” A federal judge issued a temporary stay on the same day the order was implemented, based on the likelihood that it violated people’s constitutional right to due process.

It is apt that the mass movement opposed to Trump’s order is referring to it simply as a “Muslim ban,” since that is what it is for all practical purposes. The seven countries whose nationals are now potentially unable to enter or live in the U.S. are all Muslim-majority nations: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Probably not coincidentally, this is a list of nations that the U.S. has either militarily intervened in or diplomatically battled in the past, and it excludes Arab and Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates where Trump has business interests, despite the fact that the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from those two nations.

Like many things he does, Trump appears to have slapped together the “Muslim ban” with very little preparation. One can almost imagine the president jotting down all his campaign promises on the back of an envelope and instructing a White House clerk to turn them into executive orders before he can sign them. The chaos and confusion that has since ensued at airports around the nation, and even at White House press conferences, seems to suggest that Trump’s “Muslim ban” was subject to anything but “extreme vetting.”

Members of the administration cannot even get their own story straight, as the Associated Press pointed out in a fact check of the ban and based on how it is being described by officials. More evidence of poor planning was on display when legal permanent residents (i.e., “green card holders”) were among those detained on the first day of the ban, only to have the White House walk back that aspect of the executive order. It remains unclear if airport authorities actually received details in writing to enforce the order, judging by how erratic and patchy enforcement was and continues to be.

But perhaps sowing chaos is part of Trump’s plan all along. The “Disrupter in Chief” simply ignored reality, as is his wont, and offered “alternative facts,” insisting that the executive order was “not a Muslim ban” and declaring that in fact, “It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over.”

Heartbreaking stories abound of babies, elderly and disabled people being unreasonably detained. White House press secretary Sean Spicer went as far as to justify the detention of a 5-year-old boy because, “To assume that just because of someone’s age and gender that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.” The boy turned out to be a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin. Even those people not from the seven countries specified in Trump’s “Muslim ban” report being detained for hours, including a Mexican national and legal resident who was simply returning from a vacation in Belize with his fiancée. For some, the temporary stay of Trump’s order came too late, and they found themselves deported, like the Iranian graduate student who happened to be returning from a family trip.

All the people impacted by the executive order are immigrants who hold legal documents such as valid visas or permanent resident cards. In other words, they have already gone through the nation’s stringent vetting process. To pull the rug out from under them with this sudden and unruly enforcement of a poorly thought-out policy amounts to dramatically changing the rules midstream and upending lives, careers and educations. Exactly how this is supposed to keep Americans safer is mind-boggling.

Meanwhile, in Quebec City, Canada, just a day after the “Muslim ban” was enacted, a 27-year-old white male named Alexandre Bissonnette fatally gunned down six people and wounded eight others at a mosque. Bissonnette openly expressed support for Trump and other politicians of a similarly fundamentalist streak, such as Marine Le Pen of France.

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