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Immigration Executive Order

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

by Staff, Spaulding Law

The immigration executive order signed by President Donald Trump January 27, 2017 has caused an uproar in the United States. There are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Those opposed to the order see it as primarily a religious and a refugee issue. There is concern from the opposition that this is essentially a “Muslim ban”. Those in favor of the order see it primarily as a national security issue. There is concern that terrorists will disguise themselves amongst refugees.

The idea that this executive order is a “Muslim ban” comes from the language in section 5 subsection b of the order:

“Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.”

The countries that have been suspended are: Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. These countries are all Muslim-majority countries so a Muslim refugee would not qualify for prioritization under this order. This has led some groups to claim there is a preference for Christian refugees and a bias against Muslim refugees.

A reason for the order is stated in section 2:

“It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.”

Currently, individuals seeking visas to come to the United States must go through a review process. This order asserts that the review processes are in need of review and possible updates. There are 10 sections to the executive order and 7 of the sections specify current programs for entering the United States that may have processes that are inadequate to measure up to the above stated policy of the United States.

Those in support of the order point to recent examples of terrorism within the US such as the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the San Bernardino shooting. There is fear that allowing more individuals from the banned region will increase the number of these kinds of incidents. However, opponents to the executive action have been quick to point out that those involved in these incidents were not refugees and may still have been able to gain access to the United States under this order.

It is not clear whether this order will remain in place as a federal judge in Seattle suspended the travel ban, and a federal appeals court denied the request to immediately reinstate the ban and has yet to officially rule on the issue. It is possible that the issue will be brought before the United States Supreme Court. If this is the case, the argument will be whether the President has the authority to instate such a ban and if the ban is in line with the laws of the country. It is an interesting, if not an emotionally charged question. Either way, it is unlikely that the American people will reach a consensus on how to resolve this issue anytime soon.

The full text of the executive order can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states

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