Executive Order Bans Refugees, Legal Battles Begin

President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order establishing "extreme vetting" of people coming to the United States. Via Getty images
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Late Friday night, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of all refugees into the United States for the next 120 days in the name of “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry.”

Individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries are banned from entering the United States for at least the next 90 days, including those from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Trump’s executive order bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.

The list of countries found in Trump’s executive order originated under the Obama administration’s Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which restricted travel for individuals who had visited Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Sudan after March 1, 2011.

The updated list of “countries of concern” from the Department of Homeland Security added Libya, Yemen, and Somalia in February 2016.

But the executive order goes beyond the list of seven countries previously mentioned, opening the door for future restrictions:

It calls on the administration to compile a list of countries that do not meet vetting standards that would be “recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals” from those nations until they are in compliance.

The State Department says that Trump’s visa ban also applies to citizens with dual nationality and the Department of Homeland Security says the travel ban applies to legal permanent residents who hold green cards but not U.S. citizenship.

Late Saturday night, a federal judge granted the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a nationwide temporary injunction, blocking the deportation of all individuals stranded in U.S. airports due to President Trump’s executive order.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, reacted to the ruling:

Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country. Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court.

As did DHS:

The Department of Homeland Security will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people. President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place—prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety. President Trump’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.


Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the Intercept with Glenn Greenwald, points out:


Legal scholar and civil libertarian Jonathan Turley has some nuanced points on the subject:

Curiously, the order notes the 9-11 attacks but the order does not cover the countries that were the sources for those attackers, including Saudi Arabia and UAE.   I think that this order is a mistake and contradicts our values.  However, I do not agree with some of my colleagues at GW and other law schools that the order is clearly unconstitutional. Courts are not supposed to rule on the merits of such laws but their legality.  I think that the existing precedent favors Trump.

Turley notes that this executive order 1) is not a religious ban; 2) suspends entry pending new vetting procedures; and 3) follows precedent for limiting immigration from specific countries with case law going all the way back to the 1875 Page Act.

Turley highlights the conflict between what’s just and what the Constitution permits, which isn’t necessarily the same thing:

None of this means that I personally support this action. I do not. However, one’s personal views should not influence one’s constitutional analysis in such a case.

Read his comments in full and his follow-up, which claims that Trump still has legal precedent on his side, even after he “inserted an express religious preference into the debate.”

Of course, as libertarians have insisted for years, the public must acknowledge that the American Empire’s military interventions in the Middle East are the reason for both the threat of terrorism against US interests and now the cause of the current refugee crisis.

The best course of action is immediate withdrawal and non-intervention.

Because where this is going is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly not over:

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Jared Labell is the Executive Director of The Libertarian Institute as well as Taxpayers United of America. A native of Texas, Jared is a history major whose work and interviews have been published by dozens of radio, newspaper, and television stations across Illinois and publicized nationally, including such media outlets as the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, WGN, Fox, ABC, NPR, and the Illinois Radio Network, as well as Antiwar.com, the Future of Freedom Foundation, and the Foundation for Economic Education.


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