Monday 30 January 2017

Malevolence tempered by incompetence

The confusion began shortly after Trump issued his sweeping executive order on Friday night. Under its provisions, Trump suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, barred the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. on all but certain diplomatic visas for 90 days, and permanently blocked the admission of Syrian refugees into the United States. The order does not affect travel by U.S. citizens, whether they were born in the country or later became naturalized.
The order’s sudden release and sweeping effect led to confusion and chaos at major U.S. airports as hundreds of travelers, including some lawful permanent U.S. residents with green cards, found themselves unable to enter the country. In New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and other major cities, demonstrators gathered outside international terminals to protest the executive order. Democratic members of Congress and volunteer lawyers also arrived to free people detained by U.S. customs officials. The ACLU and other legal organizations also filed lawsuits seeking temporary stays of removal in federal courts in at least four cities. 
The Atlantic: The Legal Battle Over Trump's Muslim Immigration Order, January 29, 2017
It makes no sense. It makes us no safer. It needlessly harms hundreds of thousands of rule-followers who are either barred from reentering their home or unable to leave and come back without going through an opaque, “case by case” screening process at a foreign consulate with no fixed procedures or timeline or any guarantee that they will be cleared, eventually, so long as they don’t actually pose any security threat.
This gravely harms the permanent residents with no benefit for other Americans. In fact, it harms the United States citizens who are their spouses, family members, friends, and employers. And it harms those of us who are ashamed of how our country betrayed them. 
The Atlantic: The Betrayal of Legal Immigrants Who Followed the Rules, January 29, 2017
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.
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.
The Guardian: Suddenly, Muslims are America’s pariahs, January 30, 2017

This order - issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day - affects people who have worked and lived in the United States for years. It affects refugees who were vetted, went through the process, and thought they could resettle in the United States. It affects people who left the country holding valid visas and were then inoformed that they no longer had the right to come back - and then interrogated, for hours, about their history and their political affiliations. When I imagine the worst case scenario - as an immigrant with a non-permanent visa in a country that is my home now, the centre of my life - this is pretty much what it looks like. 

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