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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.

Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday.

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B1 US TOEIC executive order executive united immigration refugee

Understanding Trump's Executive Order on Immigration

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    g2 posted on 2017/02/01
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