Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban
Dr. Mozammel Haque
Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America on Friday, 20th of January 2017. There were protesters clashed with police outside in Washington DC. Next day, Saturday, there was hundreds and thousands of men and women of all ages took to the streets of Washington DC. In the first week of his full working week, President Trump issued around 13 Executive Orders, one of which is Muslim Immigration ban. President imposed a blanket Muslim Travel ban on all refugees coming from seven Muslim majority countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. That provoked outcry, concerns, condemnations and legal confrontation in USA and aboard.
In this paper, I will mainly concentrate on President Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban, how the international community responded and reacted to it; what is the opinion of the world leaders? This cruel, inhumane Muslim immigration and refugee ban created another issue in the United Kingdom. Donald Trump was invited by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May for state visit in her first official meeting with the American President Donald Trump on 28 January 2017.
Later on, President Trump issued another Revised Travel Ban on 7th of March, 2017 which suffered legal setback again. Revised Travel Ban was blocked by two Federal Judges, judges in Hawaii and Maryland saying President was likely engaged in unconstitutional religious discrimination. (The Wall Street Journal, 16 March, 2017). Countries included in the Revised Travel Ban include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq was first included in the list, but was taken off when the second travel ban was rolled out.
Before narrating, discussing and analysing the Muslim Travel ban, I would like to start with President Donald Trump’s inauguration in rainy Friday amid spontaneous protests in capital, Washington, DC and global women march and issuance of executive orders. Muslim Travel ban is one of the executive orders which was protested, condemned and criticised in America and abroad.
The reaction and response to Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban in the United Kingdom will be dealt with in the next write-up where it would also be mentioned about Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom which was debated in the British parliament.
Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on the rainy Friday, 20th of January 2017 amid anti-Trump protesters clashed with police in the US capital, Washington DC. The number of protests against and rallies for Trump taking place on Friday is far above what has been typical at recent US presidential inaugurations.
Women March on Washington
Hundreds of thousands of men and women of all ages have taken to the streets of Washington DC on Saturday, 21st of January 2017 to march in opposition to President Donald Trump, a day after the Republican took office, as sister demonstrations took place in cities across Africa, Asia and Europe. It was one of more than 600 rallies taking place worldwide on the new US President’s first full day in office rallying around issues like women's rights, reproductive rights and immigration. Protesters held signs like "Women's rights are human rights", "Break down walls, don't build them", and "Hell hath no fury as a nasty woman scorned", referencing the time Trump called his opponent, Hillary Clinton, a "nasty woman" during a debate, reported in Al-Jazeera, on 22 January, 2017.
Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women's Equality party, told Al Jazeera that protesters had gathered in a show of unity. “We are here to protest the hate and the division that Donald Trump puts forward as politics,” she said and added, “We are here to march against the rising xenophobia in this country. We're here to march against the normalisation of racism and misogyny and sexism.”
Demonstrations against Trump's discriminatory rhetoric were also held in Australia, the UK, Germany, Japan and France, and others. It is reported in Al-Jazeera, “In Kenya, hundreds of protesters in Nairobi's Karura Forest waved placards and sang American protest songs. In Sydney, Australia's biggest city, about 3,000 men and women gathered for a rally in Hyde Park before marching on the US consulate downtown, while organisers said 5,000 people rallied in Melbourne. In Japan, hundreds of people joined protests in Tokyo, including many American expatriates.” (Al-Jazeera, 22 January, 2017).
UK protesters join anti-Trump rallies in London
Thousands of protesters have taken part in a Women's March in London on 21 January 2017 as part of global protests on the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency. They marched from the US embassy to Trafalgar Square - as part of UK-wide rallies to highlight women's rights. Organisers said up to 100,000 people took part in London, although that has not been independently verified, reported by Sian Grzeszczyk to BBC on 21 January 2017.
BBC also reported, “Protesters left the US embassy, in London's Grosvenor Square, shortly after midday and chanted ‘build bridges not walls’ as they made their way along Piccadilly. TV presenter Sandi Toksvig and Labour MP Yvette Cooper later addressed crowds, while London mayor Sadiq Khan was also in attendance. London organisers announced on stage that between 80,000 and 100,000 women and men had taken part in the rally, but police have not given an independent estimate. UK demonstrations have also been held in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol.”
Into the first week into his Presidency, Donald Trump issued executive orders. James Reinl reported in Al-Jazeera on 27 January 2017: “Up until he was inaugurated as United States president this month, opinions were divided over whether Donald Trump would come good on his hard-line campaign pledges to tighten US borders, scrap Obamacare and exit free trade deals. One week into his presidency and it has become clear that Trump meant business. He hit the ground running with a flurry of executive actions that won cheers from his Republican admirers but alarmed liberals, environmentalists, minorities and others.”
After Trump's rainy inauguration ceremony on Friday, he quickly directed government agencies and issued executive orders. Al-Jazeera and BBC has mentioned the following executive actions and directives.
Opening salvo on Obamacare
President Trump directed government agencies to freeze regulations and start weakening Obamacare, the signature healthcare policy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, a Democrat. ii) Goodbye Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: On Monday, Trump signed an order formally withdrawing the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), once viewed as the crown jewel of Barack Obama’s international trade policy. iii) Cutting cash to global, pro-abortion charities: controversial pipelines - Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, which respectively link Canada and North Dakota with US Gulf Coast refiners. (BBC & Al-Jazeera)
Border Security: He pledged repeatedly at rallies to build wall along the southern border saying it would be big beautiful and powerful. On Wednesday, Trump signed a pair of executive orders to fulfil that campaign pledge. One order declared the building of a multibillion dollar wall along the 3,200km US-Mexico border and signalling tough action against the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, mostly Latinos. The second order pledges to hire 10,000 more immigration officers and to revoke federal grant money from so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ which refuse to deport undocumented immigrants. ( reported by BBC & Al-Jazeera)
Muslim Immigration Ban
On Friday, 27th of January, 2017, Mr Trump signed a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travellers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He claimed the moves would protect Americans from terrorism. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” he said in a ceremony at the Pentagon, where he also signed an order to boost the US military. President Trump announced last week of January 2017 that nationals from seven Muslim majority countries will now be refused access to the United States of America. (reported in The Independent online, 28th of January, 2017)
Lucy Pasha Robinson reported, “Trump has ordered a four-month ban on all refugees from entering the country as well as enacting an indefinite ban on all those who hail from Syria. For 90 days, visas will not be issued to nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Green card and visa holders were being blocked from boarding US-bound flights within hours of Donald Trump issuing an executive order limiting immigration from several Muslim countries, according to reports. (The Independent online, 28 January 2017)
The cruel inhumane bans affect travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and even extend to green card holders who are granted authorisation to live and work in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman.
President Trump has imposed a blanket ban on all refugees from seven Muslim majority countries. He has signed Executive Order to ban refugees from entering the US. Syrian refugees will be banned 'indefinitely'. Refugees from the other six Muslim countries will be banned for 120 days. In this connection, it should be mentioned that Mr. Trump first promised to ban Muslims in December 2015. He got his wish just 13 months later.
Rachael Revesz reported from New York: “Mr Trump’s executive order, signed on the same day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, requested that the Department of Homeland Security imposes a 120-day blanket ban on all refugees coming from seven Muslim-majority countries. Syrian refugees would be banned "indefinitely", but Christian applicants would be given top priority.” (The Independent online, 28 January, 2017)
(a) Chaos Confusion and Anger:
Visas denied immediately, chaos created at airports and in the air. The decision has sparked chaos, outrage and anger around the world. Andrew Buncombe from New York wrote: “Donald Trump’s ban on refugees entering America has caused chaos, confusion and anger across the globe, as people were turned back from US-bound flights and others were detained on arrival at American airports. Mr Trump denied that his executive order amount to a Muslim ban, but he said: “This is working out very nicely.” (The Independent online, 28 January, 2017)
Narrating the horror stories after the Muslim Immigration banning executive order, Ms. Nesrine Malik wrote in The Guardian: “Within minutes of Donald Trump signing his executive order banning the entry of nationals from seven Muslim majority countries, the horror stories started coming through. “Some were turned back from boarding their flights; others were handcuffed in airports, patted down and interrogated on their political beliefs. Mothers, fathers, children, students, employees suddenly found that the unthinkable had happened. They had been banned from returning to their jobs and studies, to their families and homes because they were Muslims.” (Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)
She also mentioned, “The thought was almost too evil, too grotesque, to countenance. The hours after the ban felt like living through a chapter of history that we’d left behind. Events unfolded the likes of which we had only ever seen in documentaries, in fragments of newsreels from the archives. Travellers in tears, stern officers “just following orders”, refugees on the cusp of safe harbour wild with despair at the uncertain fate to which they must return, confused children huddled behind their parents as they plead with authorities, their faces speaking of fear, confusion and the sense that something is about to change for ever.” (Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)
(b) Condemnation and Criticism within the US
This Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban from seven Muslim majority countries was widely condemned and criticised both within the country and abroad. Muslim leaders filed lawsuit against Donald Trump’s refugee ban. There are around 3.3 million American Muslims in the US, just one percent of a national population of more than 120 million. “The American Muslim community has been the target of discriminatory policies for many years,” Lena Masri, CAIR’s national litigation director told Independent and added, “Generally speaking at this time the Muslim community is being attacked by this order. It’s important for Americans to stand together and rise together.” (The Independent online, 27 January, 2017)
Rachael Revesz from New York, reported, “CAIR will file lawsuit in the US District Court of the Western District of Virginia on Monday. The CAIR’s lawsuit is aimed to “challenge the constitutionality of the order which very clearly is designed to target Muslims.” “There is no evidence that refugees, the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation, are a threat to national security,” Ms Masri said in a statement released by CAIR. “This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”(The Independent online, 27 January, 2017)
An estimated 400 lawyers have signed up to represent detainees, and dozens flocked to airports, many with signs in Arabic and Farsi to alert relatives that attorneys could help them find lost loved ones. From Saturday into Sunday, hundreds attended rallies against Trump’s “extreme vetting order” at 29 cities and airports across the country, reported by Edward Helmore. (The Guardian, on Sunday, 29 January, 2017).
In the report, Edward Helmore also mentioned that Executives at major tech companies that rely on foreign skilled labour also expressed concern. In a memo to staff, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said it had been “painful to see the personal cost” on our colleagues.
© Legal Challenges against the Executive Order
Four states filed lawsuit against Trump administration over ‘un-American’ travel ban. Joanna Walters from New York reported: “New York, Massachusetts and Virginia on Tuesday joined Washington State on a growing list of states challenging the travel ban that caused chaos at airports in those states and beyond at the weekend as people with valid immigration documents were detained or deported after arriving on flights from overseas.” (The Guardian, on Wednesday, 1 February, 2017)
Lauren Gambino, Sabrina Siddiqui and David Smith from Washington reported, “On Tuesday, 31st of January, 2017 New York joined a federal lawsuit against Trump’s executive order brought by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the Urban Justice Centre and others. Eric Schneiderman, the New York state attorney general, described the order as “unconstitutional, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American”. (The Guardian, 31st January 2017)
And the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, said the state was also filing its own case seeking to have the ban struck down. “The executive order is harmful, discriminatory and unconstitutional. It discriminates on the basis of religion and national origin,” Healey said at a press briefing at her office. (Joanna Walters, The Guardian, 1 February, 2017)
Late Saturday night, Federal Judges in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts ordered a temporary halt to the President’s deportation of people who had arrived in the US with valid visas, reported by Edward Helmore from New York in The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017.
Amid a tremendous backlash in America and around the world, on Monday night Trump removed Sally Yates, acting Attorney General after she told justice department lawyers not to defend his executive order. The White House said she had “betrayed” the department by refusing to enforce a legal order that was “designed to protect the citizens of the United States”. (25) The dismissal of Sally Yates from her post as acting attorney general is just the latest.
After a federal judge in Seattle ordered a temporary halt on Donald Trump’s travel ban for refugees and people from seven predominantly-Muslim nations, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly told US airlines that they could board travellers who had been barred. “We are a nation of laws. Not even the president can violate the constitution,” Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson told reporters outside the courtroom. “No one is above the law, not even the president.” “This decision shuts down the executive order immediately, shuts it down,” he added. “That relief is immediate, happens right now. That’s the bottom line.” (Reported by Martin Pengelly and Edward Helmore from New York in the Guardian, Saturday, 4th of February, 2017)
(d) United Nations Secretary General
Criticises Trump’s border policies
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the US President to abandon his controversial policies. He criticises President Trump’s border policies. The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday, 1st February 2017 that U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions on seven countries and freeze on refugee resettlement should be lifted sooner than later. “This is not the way to best protect the U.S. or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possible terrorist infiltration,” Guterres said to reporters. “I don’t think this is the effective way to do so. I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later.”
Travel ban is not the effective way of stopping terrorists entering U.S,” he said.
(e) International Organisations – UN
Civil rights and faith groups, activists and Democratic politicians were furious and vowed to fight the executive order. The Trump’s executive order provoked international outcry from human rights, humanitarian and faith groups, activists and democratic politicians, with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration and Amnesty International all condemning the ban.
The United Nations has condemned Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and order to stop Syrians and travellers from six other Muslim-majority countries entering the US amid mounting international anger. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) called on the new President’s administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, a right protected by international law. (Reported by Lizzie Dearden, The Independent online, 28 January 2017)
Lizzie Dearden also mentioned in the report, “The UNHCR and IOM urged the new administration to continue its work with the UN and other agencies to ensure “vital” resettlement programmes for people fleeing conflict and persecution, whatever their background. “We strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race,” a spokesperson said.
(f) Concerns and Condemnation
from International leaders
US and European officials have expressed anxiety about the damage the Trump administration’s ban targeting Muslim refugees could inflict on western security. The ban is believed to have been drafted by an ideologically-driven group around Donald Trump without consultation with the justice, state, defence or homeland security departments, which could have weighed on its implications for US foreign relations, as well as the country’s security concerns and legal obligations, Julian Borger reported from Washington. (The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)
Sam Jones and Philip Oltermann reported on Sunday, 29 January 2017 about the reaction of the international leaders. It is reported: Donald Trump’s Executive Order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – has provoked a wave of concern and condemnation from international leaders and politicians.
“A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US. “The chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. “She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion. The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”
“The French President, François Hollande, said that “when [Trump] rejects the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we should respond to him”. Hollande said that in an unstable and uncertain world, “withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response.” Italy’s Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, in a tweet, said his country was committed to the values that bind Europe: “Open society; plural identity; no discrimination.” Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, said that while US immigration policy was a matter for the US government,”It is clear that the most recent decisions could have far-reaching implications –both on humanitarian grounds and on relations between the US and the global Muslim community”. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, tweeted: Justin Trudeau @Justin Trudeau. To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #Welcome To Canada. Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister, Margot Wallström, said she was “deeply concerned” by a decision that “creates mistrust between people”. (Sam Jones and Philip Oltermann reported in The Guardian, 29 January 2017)
(g) Human Rights Organisations and NGOs
It provoked outcry from NGOs working to stem the worst ever global refugee crisis with more than 65 million people forced to flee their homes.
Amnesty International warned the move could have “catastrophic consequences”. Salil Shetty, the group’s secretary general, said: “These men, women and children are the victims of the same terror President Trump claims he wants to fight against. The irony beggars belief.” The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said Mr Trump’s “harmful and hasty” decision would impact thousands of innocent people, mostly women and children, awaiting resettlement to the US. “In truth, refugees are fleeing terror – they are not terrorists,” said IRC president and CEO David Miliband, the former British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,” Help Refugees, a British charity working across camps in northern France, Greece and the Middle East, said news of Mr Trump’s order was “devastating”. “Refugees are, by definition, people seeking sanctuary from some of the most horrific circumstances and it is the duty of compassionate and progressive nations to accept their fair share,” a spokesperson said. “Banning refugees on the basis of their religious beliefs is abhorrent.”(Lizzie Dearden reported in The Independent online, 27 January, 2017)
I would like to draw conclusion with two very relevant observations: One by Robert Fisk who is a regular columnist and journalist in the Independent and another by Nesrine Malik, contributor in the Guardian.
Commenting on Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban, Robert Fisk observed in The Independent online: “There’s no getting round it. Call it Nazi, Fascist, racist, vicious, illiberal, immoral, cruel. More dangerously, what Trump has done is a wicked precedent. If you can stop them coming, you can chuck them out. If you can demand "extreme vetting" of Muslims from seven countries, you can also demand a "values test" for those Muslims who have already made it to the USA. Those on visas. Those with residency only. Those – if they are American citizens – with dual citizenship. Or full US citizens of Muslim origin. Or just Americans who are Muslims. Or Hispanics. Or Jews? Refugees one day. Citizens the next. Then refugees again.”
While commenting on Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban, Nesrine Malik observed in The Guardian: “This did not start with Trump, it’s something that is only reaching its climax. For years, as people warned against the mainstreaming of Islamophobia, they were met with equivocation. “Islam is not a race”, “we are criticising Islam, not Muslims”, “we condemn all religion, not just Islam”. Mosques were attacked, women were spat on and had their hijabs snatched from their heads. Western media, led by the British tabloid press, established an industry of hysteria against Muslims with fake news. The niqab and its banning commanded hours of debate in European parliaments. All the while Muslims repeatedly hit the panic button and were told that they needed to stop overreacting and being so precious. Rightwingers exploited Islamophobia to channel anti-immigration hatred, and liberalism took refuge in intellectual handwringing and posturing over prophet cartoons and freedom of speech and women’s rights, unable to ally itself with what it perceived to be a backward Muslim tradition, and failing to understand that the danger to everything the west stands for is not from Islamic extremism but from the response to it.”
No one was asking for forgiveness, merely an understanding that collective condemnation of a people via attacking their religion meant collective punishment. And here we are. It unfolded before our eyes and yet many still could not see it coming. It became apparent that people would pay attention only if something terrible happened, and by then it might be too late. Now something terrible has happened, but it can and will get worse. If the past seven days have taught us anything, it is that events that seem to happen overnight are actually the climax of years of complacency,” Malik concluded (49. ‘After banning orders, horror stories,’ by Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)