US Politics

Explained: Trump’s travel ban

Written by Callum Williams

What is it?

President Trump signed an executive order which stipulates that federal agencies should carry out the following requests.

  • Suspend the US Refugee admissions program for 120 days
  • Indefinite ban on all Syrian Refugees
  • No entry to the United States and visa suspensions for all citizens of 7 majority Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days. (Note Dual nationals will not be affected if they travel on a non-banned passport, according to the Trump administration. Although there are alleged cases where dual nationals have been denied. Certain visas such as diplomatic visa are exempt from the order.)
  • Lower the limit of accepted refugees for 2017 to 50,000 down from the 110,000 set by the ex-president Barrack Obama.
  • Priority should be given to religious minorities facing persecution in their countries. Trump gave an example of Christians in Syria.

What are the consequences?

This move by the new president has been met by tremendous opposition. It caused a huge backlash across the US with many states taking the executive order to court, citing it was ‘unconstitutional’.

Within days multiple courts had ruled against the travel ban, blocking deportations of people detained under the executive order. On February 3, a Seattle District Federal Court blocked the ban nationwide.

The Trump administration lashed out viciously with a tweet attacking the judge: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned”.

The administration filed an appeal and the case was heard by a Federal Court of Appeal which ruled unanimously against reinstating the travel ban. The case is now expected to go before the Supreme Court at some point in the future.

Is the ban constitutional?

The constitution states: ‘All men are created equal.’

The Immigration and Nationality Act says that if the president finds: ‘That the entry of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,’ and they can ‘suspend the entry’ of the ‘alien/s’ in question.’ A later amendment was added that stipulates that ‘no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrants’ visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residents.’

The Immigration and Nationality Act is open to interpretation, however, the executive order would be legal and constitutional if the ‘detrimental’ clause was met. Ultimately, the constitutionality and legality of the law is a huge question which is open to a lot of interpretation and one that will almost certainly reach the Supreme Court, the highest judiciary power in the US. The Supreme Court is currently predominately conservative judges although Republican appointed judges have ruled against the ban previously.

Is it really a ‘Muslim Ban’?

During the primaries, Trump caused outrage because he talked about a ‘Muslim ban’. Then there was allegedly talk of Trump’s administration trying to find a way to make the ban legal and constitutional.

Then suddenly we have this travel ban of majority Muslim countries – it is hard to see it as just a random coincidence.

I believe it is a Muslim ban, but that is hard to prove.

What is very interesting is that all terrorists who have committed lethal terror attacks within the US since 9/11 were a citizen or legal resident of the US and only 17 people from the banned countries have committed terror attacks in the US between 1975 and 2015.

Nineteen people from Saudi Arabia have committed attacks within the same timeframe. Saudi Arabia wasn’t included in the ban.

I’m sure it is just a coincidence that Trump has eight businesses in Saudi Arabia.

Has Trump committed an impeachable offence?

Technically, yes, but only if the allegations are true. Allegedly, Trump instructed federal agencies to defy a federal court order. Allegedly, even after federal courts ordered the temporary ban on deportation, detainees were handcuffed and forced onto planes.

Although this would be almost impossible to prove that Trump ordered it and even if you could the impeachment process is long and since congress and the house are controlled by republicans, it would be unlikely they would impeach Trump.

Even if we had the rare case of him being impeached, we then get Donald Trump’s free life insurance policy: Mike Pence as President.

Has Trump broken the Geneva Convention?

Yes, he has. He has breached Article 3 of the Refugee Convention 1951 which forms part of the Geneva Convention. Although the US has not ratified the Refugee Convention 1951, it has ratified the 1967 protocol, which stipulates that countries must abide by articles 2 to 34 inclusive of the Refugee Convention 1951.

Article 3 says: ‘The Contracting States shall apply the provisions of this Convention to refugees without discriminations as to race, religion or country of origin.’

Trump has suspended indefinitely entry to Syrian refugees based on country of origin.

That is a direct breach of international treaties and the Geneva Convention.

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Callum Williams

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