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OPINION: Trump’s Travel Restrictions

Dissecting the most controversial of President Trump's Executive Orders

Christopher Young, News Editor

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Several protests have sparked across the States in opposition to President Trump’s first three executive orders since his first day on the job. These orders become effective immediately, and for one to be revoked it would have to go to Supreme Court. In essence, these orders are absolute unless they go out of effect or the Supreme Court finds them as unconstitutional. If enough federal courts rule against one, however, then the order will need further litigation to become effective.

For some people, this is great news. One of the orders halted international funding for abortion. Essentially, what this does is block federal funding for non-governmental organizations that promote or provide abortions. The pro-life movement had much to celebrate, as they marched in Washington just a few days later.

However, one of the other orders is causing even some who call themselves pro-life to protest. This order is a strong travel restriction between the U.S.A. and seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The media and its followers have taken to calling the order a Muslim ban. President Trump has stated that the purpose of the restriction is to revamp the policies of the country concerning refugees and immigrants, and also to prevent terrorist groups, particularly ISIS, from entering the States.

Presented here is a moral and political dilemma that affects both Americans and foreigners, possibly even affecting those not restricted from entering the U.S.A. So is the order evil? The question can be difficult to answer, as bishops across America, even the world, have spoken against this order. To answer the question, you must examine the pros and cons of the order.

The first issue is that the media has been villainizing President Trump since before the presidential campaign even began. Not surprisingly, this criticism continues into his presidency. One of the ways the media has accomplished this is by using incorrect terminology to describe his actions, or by intentionally misinterpreting what he says. For instance, to call this order a “Muslim ban” would be incorrect for several reasons. The “ban” restricts travel to and from seven Muslim-majority countries, the highest Muslim percentage in any of these countries being 99.7%, (Iran) and the lowest being 90% (Syria.) The media uses these statistics to say that President Trump is racist and discriminatory, while they ignore the fact that the order only restricts travel to and from seven of the fifty Muslim-majority countries, and it makes restrictions to Americans in those countries. Also, the Trump administration used the list of “countries of concern” left by the Obama administration when writing the order. Trump said many times during his campaign that he wants to end Islamic terrorism, and the media relayed this to the public as hate towards Muslims. But to say that a desire to end terrorism and save lives equates to hate for a people with violent members is absurd. One may not judge the whole people for the actions of some. While it is undeniable that Islamic terrorism does exist and does pose a threat, it is equally undeniable that not all Muslims are bloodthirsty, indiscriminate murderers. Despite the fact that the President has made many insensitive remarks on minorities and religions, there is no real proof that he hates Muslims or that this order was given as an anti-Muslim act. “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” he said. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

That being said, there are benefits to the order. The four months will allow the United States to amend its refugee policies, which will allow a safer, more secure process of lawful entries into the country. The current refugee system in America is broken and in great need of revitalization, but while this order will temporarily keep out illegal refugees, it will also make it harder for American citizens on work-leave, students, and legal refugees to enter the States. Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans was working with an Iraqi family in their efforts to come over to the New Orleans Archdiocese to live. Their process was legal, and they had been working for fifteen years to immigrate to America for a better life for themselves and their children. One day they have their visas, ready to come over to the States. The next day, their visas are taken away by American agents and told that they will probably have to wait another ten years before they can come to America. According to the State department, 60,000 visas have been revoked! The sudden cancellation of the plans of so many people to come to America While the immigrant/refugee system does need to be reformed, it can certainly be done so without causing harm to those who attempt to travel legally.

Archbishop Aymond made a statement on January 30th concerning the order, reminding New Orleans that “Catholic Social Teaching states that people have the right to move to provide a better life for themselves and their families.” He goes on, “We have never advocated to open our borders indiscriminately, but are called to live out this teaching with open hearts and to accompany those who are lawfully seeking a new life in a new land without discriminating by race, creed or religion.” The Archbishop points out that people of all races, religions, and classes are persecuted, and that those who call themselves Christian are called to show mercy to all of them. The seven Corporal Works of Mercy call for Christians to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. Can those who call themselves followers of Christ and supporters of life deny of those in need the things which maintain life?

Despite all of this, the order is not evil in and of itself, but as the Archbishop says, “If it continues to go on as it is, it may produce evil.” This order tests those who call themselves pro-life, as it proposes charity towards those in need, while potentially risks the safety of American citizens. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken about the order; how the Trump administration could reform the order to make it more charitable towards those seeking lawful refuge in America.

The order, which has been halted by a 9th-Circuit court ruling, within expected to go before the Supreme Court within the few weeks following the halt. However, the case was appealed because a replacement order was announced. Released on March 6th, it too was halted. This new order dropped Iraq from the list due to its own strong policies in vetting and its work with the United States to crack down on Islamic militants. Many expect that this new order will still be met with the same oppositions the original would have in court.

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OPINION: Trump’s Travel Restrictions