Staying true to his campaign promises, on January 27th, 2017, president Donald Trump issued an executive order marking numerous changes in American immigration policy, including a 90-day ban on entry into the United States by citizens of 7 countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The order also comprises changes on admission of refugees and requires a religious test for refugees from certain countries. The president’s motivation for adopting this measure seems to be based on the necessity to keep the United States safe and strengthen its borders.
This move seemed to have ignited mixed reactions, with some embracing the perspective of a safer country and others rallying in support of those impacted by this measure (immigrant students, faculty, professionals working in the US, refugees, etc) and to protect the values enshrined in the US constitution, which represents the foundation of the country.
Following a legal action, Darweesh v Trump, filed by two Iraqi citizens detained at JFK airport upon arrival in the US, a judge in the Eastern District of New York issued a temporary stay on part of the order. Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a civil suit meant to demonstrate whether the executive order barring citizens of specific countries from entry into the US respects the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and all other procedural and substantive rules and regulations in place. Inspired by ACLU’s response to president Trump’s order, more than 350,000 individuals have made contributions to ACLU over the January 28th – 29th weekend, reaching a record of $24million in donations offering a insight on how individuals may unify and become stronger during a change.
Political leaders from around the world have also addressed president Trump’s order. In a joint press conference in Berlin, French president Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel called for unity and solidarity, highlighting the United States’ responsibility towards refugees, as signatory part of the Geneva Conventions. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose country has been open to welcoming and integrating Syrian refugees, offered a temporary refuge in Canada to those impacted by the US immigration ban. Sharing his thoughts via Twitter, Mr. Trudeau wrote: “Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada”. Meanwhile, Republican US Senator John McCain posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, however we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.”
Business leaders also responded to president Trump’s travel ban. Steve Kaufer, the CEO of TripAdvisor, LLC, stated: “.. we are human beings and citizens who respect the fabric of our country. The United States is a place where the majority of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents came as immigrants, settled and made a home. […] Government needs to do more […] to allow these people into their countries to work and contribute to their economy and communities”. TripAdvisor committed $5 million over the next three years to aid refugees. Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky announced on his Twitter page the company has created a platform where people from around the world who wish to host refugees cost-free may volunteer their homes. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz pledged to hire 10,000 refugees over 5 years in the 75 countries where the company does business.
The civil society has initiated an online a campaign offering people from around the world the opportunity to sign a letter addressed to president Trump in response to his executive orders in regards to women, immigrants, Mexico border wall, travel ban, refugees, etc. Over 4million people have already signed the petition, demonstrating the global unity generated in reaction to this ban. While aiming to build a stronger and more secure nation are commending aspirations, it may also important to preserve America’s commitment to its values and diversity. A well-thought, balanced policy, with organised measures which respect fundamental values such as freedom, liberty and equality for all may offer Americans more confidence to support the president’s actions while keeping alive the country’s essence.
What policy innovations may president Trump introduce to keep the US safe while respecting diversity?