The Trump Executive Orders

Since stepping into office, President Trump has signed two executive orders affecting travel and immigration to the United States from certain countries. The first travel ban was signed on January 27, 2017. The executive order is formally titled: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Its stated policy purpose is 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.”

This January 27 executive order suspends the issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of certain countries for 90 days—countries that were designated by Congress and the Obama Administration as posing national security risks in the Visa Waiver Program. This 90 days suspension exempts those with diplomatic visas, NATO visas, and UN visas. This Executive Order does not specify which country is on the “ban list”; Homeland Security later issued a Fact Sheetidentifying the following countries: Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle ordered to block the enforcement of President Trump’s controversial travel ban. You can see a full video of the hearing here: http://www.uscourts.gov/cameras-courts/state-washington-vs-donald-j-trump-et-al

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld lower court’s decision to block the executive order (click here to read the court’s decision). (You can also read the most updated 9th Circuit Court case information here: https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view.php?pk_id=0000000860)

After the courts blocked this January 27 Executive Order, President Trump re-issued a new order (Executve Order 13,780) on March 6. The new executive order is titled the same but has a number of exemptions for legal permanent residents and existing visa holders. Iraq is also taken off the list of countries covered. The new order also has explicit waivers for various categories of immigrants with ties to the country.

Washington joined by California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon, filed a complaint in US District Court (Western District of Washington) challenged this new Executive Order. Their amended complaint alleged that the new Executive Order violates the First, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments, as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Just prior to those states filing their amended complaint, the US District Court of Hawai’i, on March 15, 2017, granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the enforcement of Sections 2 and 6 of the new Executive Order. This case is on appeal with the 9th Circuit. (You can review the case progress here: https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view.php?pk_id=0000000871)

Currently both the Washington and Hawai’i cases are ongoing.

Coda: Soon after the first executive order was issued in January, a dissent memo written by members of the Department of State, surfaced on the Internet. It should be noted that it is not unusual for the State Department employees to express dissent. In fact, the American Foreign Service Association actually gives out an award for their “Constructive Dissents.

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J. William Fulbright

“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.”

– J. William Fulbright, U.S. politician (1905 – 1995)

The blog is in part of the Mission Continues blog series, written by Jin Kong and therefore all words and thoughts are his own and not a reflection of GCWAC.  


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