United against division: Reaction to executive order
February 8, 2017
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On January 27th, President Trump signed an Executive Order that implemented a 90-day ban on immigration from “terror-prone” Muslim-majority nations, including the nations of Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Iran. It also suspended the U.S. Refugee program in its entirety for 120 days. Although not explicitly mentioned in the Order, some border control officials have also taken to banning the entry of legal U.S. resident Green Card holders. Compounding the issue, some border control officials are not complying with court-mandated stays, suspending the Order’s enforcement.
In response to the Executive Order, thousands of Americans took the streets in protest, occupying airports and rallying in parks in solidarity with those affected. Lawyers took up cases pro bono, elected officials exerted their influence, and millions of dollars poured into the ACLU. These were all done in effort to stand up against something that many Americans felt was wrong.
We, the authors of this piece, feel that the Order is unconstitutional, immoral, and simply bad policy for the following reasons:
Puritan leader John Winthrop christened the new Massachusetts Bay Colony as a “Shining City upon a Hill”, exemplifying its goal of being a bastion of liberty and an example for the rest of the world to follow. As the United States grew and expanded, it has always sought to maintain that status, even though our darkest moments, and lead the world by example. This Executive Order severely detracts from that status and that governing principle.
The Executive Order also gives preference to Christian refugees over Muslim refugees, despite it being a central point of the Bill of Rights that the government of the United States will not pass any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. In this respect, the Order is unconstitutional and violates the beliefs of the Founding Fathers and the central ideas that America was founded on.
The United State of America was founded by immigrants. At first the Puritans fled religious persecution in Europe, but so many more have followed since. The Dutch, British, French, Spanish, and Russians all colonized the lands that make up the modern United States. It doesn’t end there. People from Ireland, Italy, Poland, China, Japan, and Mexico all migrated to the United States, searching for a better life for themselves and a better future for their children. While today these cultures are all accepted and beloved in American society, there was a time when they faced persecution much like people of Muslim and Latinx backgrounds face today. America the beautiful wasn’t built by just white Europeans. It was built by people from all over the globe who wanted to live in a place that was better than where they came from.
Since 9/11, it has become a generally held position in the United States that we cannot police the world. We have built our foreign policy around maintaining several strong allies in the Middle East. This Executive Order strains some of our most important relations, both in the Middle East, especially Iraq and the Kurds, allies in the fight against ISIS, and around the globe, especially with the United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico, major trade partners.
America is a melting pot of cultures, which makes us stronger as a society and as a nation. The U.S. is the one place on Earth where you can walk down the street and see restaurant signs for Italian, Korean, and Middle Eastern food. Some of our greatest companies are run by people of all different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Our culture is entirely unique because it takes the best that each culture has to offer and composes them into one American culture that we all should be proud of.
America has seen a dramatic increase in hate crimes over the last two years. A large percentage of these crimes were directed towards Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent. By banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries in the name of national security, some people may take this as an invitation to discriminate against American Muslims or other Middle Eastern-Americans who have never done anything to warrant such violence and discrimination.
It doesn’t matter if you are a Yemeni-American from New York or the great-grandchild of a German immigrant who settled in North Dakota. We are all Americans because of the ideals we strive for. We all want to achieve the American dream. While we may not agree on politics, we do agree that there are some central themes to this nation. Equality, honesty, and fairness are just some of those ideas. We feel that President Trump’s Executive Order violates these ideals and betrays the principles that this great nation was built on.
We are a stronger people together than we could ever hope to be apart.