America Under Trump: Immigration
March 23, 2017
After Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration was put on hold by Judge James’s Robart of Washington, a decision that was upheld by the Ninth circuit court of appeals, the United States justice department announced that a new order would soon be issued instead of pursuing a court case with the original ban. It is unclear how the White House plans to approach this sensitive topic due to the intense scrutiny the original order faced. However, President Trump said during a news conference, “The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision.” referring to the critical decision released by the Ninth Circuit.
After months of rallying cries about walls and stronger borders, the Trump administration appears to be delivering on their promise. On January 27 President Donald Trump signed the executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”. This order halted all immigrants from seven majority Muslim nations: Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, and Libya. All immigrants would be barred for 90 days and all refugees would be suspended from entering for 120 days. Syrian refugees were banned indefinitely. During the suspension, it said that that the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State would review the screening process for immigrants and refugees. President Trump’s order also suspended Former President Obama’s 2012 Visa Interview Waiver Program. The Visa Interview Waiver Program allowed visa holders that frequent the U.S. to bypass the visa interview process. After issuing the order President Trump took questions on Air Force One and called for “extreme vetting,” a term he used often during the course of his campaign.
Amidst the confusion, many were unsure who exactly was barred from entering and who was not. Visitors, temporary workers, international students, and fiancés of U.S citizens were barred as well as new immigrants and refugees. Green card holders and those with special immigrant visas would be allowed along with dual nationals and U.S. diplomats. However, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department had a difficult time enforcing the order at first, with no clear directions or warning from the Trump administration.
The rollout of this order was fraught with controversy and confusion. Without a clear memo or instructions delivered to the Department of Homeland Security or the State Department ahead of the release, various airports and customs officials interpreted the order in their own ways resulting in immigrants who had been in transit while the order was signed being detained at airports across the country. Protests at airports sprang up almost immediately, demanding the release of those detained and criticizing Trump’s policy. Many also began calling it a ‘Muslim Ban,’ based off the harsh rhetoric used by then-candidate Donald Trump. Both at a rally on December 7th, 2015 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina and in a statement on the Trump website Donald Trump said “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” These comments came after the San Bernadino terror attack that occurred around a week before. Donald Trump has also called for closer scrutiny of muslim mosques and a database to track muslims in the country.
After a tumultuous rollout, multiple court cases sprung up across the country. Washington filed a suit against President Trump’s Immigration Ban, which U.S. District Judge James Robart oversaw. Judge Robart granted the stay requested by Washington which was issued “on a nationwide basis.” This meant no federal employees could enforce the order, rendering the it mute. The federal government immediately appealed the decision to the Ninth Cirtuit Court of Appeals, where three judges, two appointed by a democratic president, one by a republican president, heard the case and ruled in favor of the stay in a 3-0 decision. Immediately after this was released President Trump tweeted, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” The White House released a statement announcing that many options would be considered including releasing a new order or potentially appealing to the Supreme Court where they could face a 4-4 party line split. Later the Department of Justice said they would be issuing a new order “tailored” to the Ninth Circuit decision. According to OregonLive, Oregon filed on Thursday February 23rd, to join Washington in their ongoing lawsuit against the original order and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is consulting with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The partisan divide on immigration seemed even larger during President Trump’s first address to a joint session of congress. Although his speech was widely regarded by Republicans as ‘unifying’ and ‘hopeful,’ Democrats found the President’s language on immigration ‘scary’. The administration was set to release their new immigration order to the public on March 1st, but decided to hold off because of the large amount of praise the President’s speech has garnered. There is no word on when he will sign the new order, but it has been released that it will include many changes, including dropping Iraq from the list of countries given a blanket ban of citizens.