Almost two weeks into the Trump Presidency, and already a lot has happened. Of the executive orders from just Trump’s first days in office, the “Muslim ban,” or as it is actually titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” seems to have been the most polarizing. Crowds of protesters have been seen in airports around the country as well as in front of the White House, national news networks are seemingly unable to cover any other topic, and multiple locally elected officials, predominantly in sanctuary cities around the country, have been vocal of their dissatisfaction with the new policy.
In all fairness, however, this is not a “Muslim ban” in the way that many media outlets and those upset by the order would like to have you believe. America does not, nor has it ever, had a religious litmus test to be or become an American. This statement is just as true today as it was under the previous president. The order does bar entry to the United States from seven Muslim majority countries. These countries include Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, and Syrian refugees indefinitely. There are several other Muslim majority countries that this does not effect. Now, there is plenty to object to regarding which countries were selected, and those that were not, for this “extreme vetting.” Many point to possible conflicts of interest regarding Trump’s business ventures in the region, but benefit of the doubt could also be given do to the use of previous legislation [section 217 (a) (12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187 (a) (12) ] that had already selected these seven countries of concern, even before Trump’s presidency.
Unfortunately, it is not true that Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, nor, apparently, Donald Trump the Statue of Liberty from Trump Tower. Sarcasm aside, nothing written in this particular order is necessarily illegal, but that does nothing to hide the fact that it is intrinsically un-American. Section 4 of the order reads:
… establish “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 the national interest… “
Perhaps to some of those who find themselves on the alt right, or maybe even those merely conservative, this may seem harmless, or even good natured. It is somewhat understandable that one might desire those who can “contribute to society.” However, none of this can do anything to change the now famous words found engraved on a bronze plaque found in the Statue of Liberty. Among much more, the sonnet reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Excerpt from “The New Colossus”
On this plaque mounted on one of this country’s most iconic monuments, Lazarus wrote a very clear message. He did not leave anything to doubt. We are not charged to admit those who could be “positively contributing members of society,” but instead to accept “the wretched refuse of your teeming shores.”
Is the order illegal? No, it is not. But as far as the assertion to “un-American,” your choices are the, admittedly ill named, “Muslim ban” or the Statue of Liberty. Choose wisely.