Policy Brief: Trump's Muslim Ban from Jessica Levitan

Note: This brief is intended as an introduction to current events or specific policies. Any opinions expressed herein reflect only those of the author.

Trump’s First Week in Review

President Trump signed off on several sweeping pieces of legislation within his first week in office. His first executive order reinstated the “Mexico City” policy, which prohibits international nongovernmental organizations that provide or talk about abortion services from receiving federal funds. He then signed off on the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and subsequently issued an executive order for the immediate construction of his promised Mexican border wall, as well as a rapid increase in border security efforts.

Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

On Friday, January 27th, Trump issued an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” The order includes ten sections and does four main things (quotes taken directly from http://www.cnn.com):

1. It prohibits individuals from seven particular Muslim-majority nations (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia) from entering the United States for 90 days. The actual text does not specify whether or not the ban applies to green-card holders or people with special visas, like students and researchers. As a result, travellers from the seven countries were detained at airports around the country and in Cairo, Dubai, and Istanbul.

2. It suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, sets the limit for 2017 refugee admissions at 50,000, and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely.

3. It instructs the Department of Homeland Security to implement “a uniform screening standard procedure that includes “in-person interviews,” “a database of identity documents,” application forms designed to identify “fraudulent answers and malicious intent,” “a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be,” “a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to national interest,” and “a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts.”

4. It instructs the Secretary of State to collect and make publicly available within 180 days “information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offences while in the United States.”


Lena F. Massri, National Litigation Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the press, “There is no evidence that refugees- the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation- are a threat to national security... This is an order that is based on bigotry, nor reality” (https://www.cair.com). And she’s right. Trump’s immigration ban excludes Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, the specific countries of origin for the 9/11 perpetrators. Of course, stand-out individuals do not represent the intentions of entire countries, nor their majority religions, but Trump’s executive order seems to ignore all records of terrorism in the United States. The seven countries targeted by the ban have not been countries of origin for an perpetrator of domestic terror attacks within the last fifteen years.

The American Civil Liberties Union responded to Trump’s ban with a painful reminder of a historical precedent; just hours before announcing his order, Trump’s administration released a message in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention of the six million Jewish people murdered by the Nazis. ACLU Deputy Legal Director, Cecilia Wang, points out that Trump’s immigration ban authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to “admit refugees on a case-by-case basis, notwithstanding the 120-day suspension, for people of a minority religion in their home countries” (www.aclu.org). Trump even assured the press that his order would make it easier for Christians to enter the United States.

The day after Trump issued the order, a Federal Judge in Brooklyn granted the ACLU’s request for a nationwide injunction to protect all detainees from deportation. Since then, a collaborative legal team staffed by the ACLU, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, has filed a lawsuit against the White House on behalf of those targeted by the immigration ban. The Counsel is suing the Administration on the grounds that Trump’s executive order violates the plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights as well as their U.S. Immigration statuses.

Join us for our inter-club discussion tonight on Trump's Executive Order! 7pm in Kimmel 802.

Update: On February 6, 2017, the Department of Justice filed its appellate brief in the appeal of the Western District of Washington's temporary restraining order. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral argument at 6pm tonight, February 7, just in time for our meeting at 7pm. Click here for information on all the ongoing legal challenges to this order. 

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