Saturday, January 28, 2017

President Trump and Executive Orders

One of the most obvious, unique facets of the President Trump administration is how he approaches the job: as as business executive.

President Trump's first week has been a whirlwind.  Many political observers have commented that they've never before seen this level of activity out of a new administration.  Today alone, Saturday the 28th, President Trump signed three Executive Orders: One to prevent government officials from being lobbyists for 5 years after their service ends, another on reorganizing the National Security Council, and the third giving the US Military 30 days to formulate a plan on fighting ISIS.

Perhaps his most controversial Executive Order came yesterday when President Trump signed an EO that bars refugees from Syria from entering the United States and denies all entry of any individuals from 7 countries for the next 90 days while the US Immigration System determines how they can properly vet refugees, a process the President calls 'extreme vetting'.

Implementation of Friday's executive order was swift and bumpy, resulting in the detention of 11 people at JFK International Airport and causing many people in transit TO the United States to be sent back to their country of origin.  Reaction to the EO has been just as swift, with many calling it 'disgusting' and 'un-American.'

Perhaps the best response probably came from Justin Amash (@justinamash), Congressman from Michigan.  In a chain of 8 tweets on Twitter he wrote:

"Like Pres. Obama's executive actions on immigration, Pres. Trump's executive order overreaches and undermines our constitutional system. It's not lawful to ban immigrants on basis of nationality. If the president wants to change immigration law, he must work with Congress. The president's denial of entry to lawful permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) is particularly troubling. Green card holders live in the United States as our neighbors and serve in our Armed Forces. They deserve better. We must do much more to properly vet refugees, but a blanket ban represents an extreme approach not consistent with our nation's values. While EO allows admittance of immigrants, nonimmigrants, and refugees "on a case-by-case basis," arbitrariness would violate Rule of Law. EO appears to be more about politics than safety. If concern is radicalism/terrorism, then what about Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others? Finally, we can't effectively fight homegrown Islamic radicalism by perpetuating “us vs. them” mindset that terrorists use to recruit."

Too often this kind of level-headed response is ignored in favor of focusing on something more inflammatory.  While some accused the President of taking anti-Muslim actions, President Trump asserted that this is "not a Muslim ban."

My Take: Banning Muslims isn't just unwise and immoral, it's impractical.  Honestly, how many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil would have been prevented by this action?  Additionally, preventing refugees from entering your country seems contrary to "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."  Also the action may have been to broad and swift, causing issues that might have been prevented with a more balanced approach.  Could we have avoided people being detained in airports?  Probably.

That said it is important to note: this 'ban' doesn't mention Muslims by name, is temporary by design so as to provide the Administration time to define what 'extreme vetting' means and how to proceed, and is in reaction to very real and documented challenges countries like Germany and France are having with assimilating refugees (that is to say, President Trump isn't just making stuff up).

Because of these truths, I believe Congressman Justin Amash's comments are the most rational.  The Congressman effectively lodged his concerns while avoiding mud-slinging.  Especially poignant is how he finished up:

"We can't effectively fight homegrown Islamic radicalism by perpetuating "us vs. them" mindset."

Something we should keep in mind no matter WHAT topic is being discussed.

Of utmost importance is what the Trump Administration comes up with in 90 and 120 days.  Depending on what the resolution is, our collective reaction will range between "What was all the fuss about?" to "This is truly un-American and we cannot support it."