“We don’t want them here,” President Donald Trump said in simple explanation of his highly controversial immigration ban, signed into effect on Jan. 27. This has been called a “blanket ban” that targets any person of one of the seven nations: Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sudan. Rather than addressing each individual seeking to move in and out of our country, Trump has decided that targeting the entirety of each nation is the best, safest option.
The argument of safety stands on thin ice. There has been a national outcry that this hasty order targets all people, regardless of their behavior, status or affiliations. The sole criteria for banning a person’s movement is their nationality — a blind decision that reduces people to only their origin country and relies heavily on racial stereotypes to be deemed appropriate.
Furthermore, those nations chosen in Trump’s executive order exclude all four of the countries which homed the hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks — a tragedy often given as the premium example for why this ban is so important.
At the front of the order’s full text, section 2 reads, “It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States…” According to an analysis by Cato Institute, zero U.S. citizens have been killed by terrorist attacks by these nations. Statistics seem to have little influence on whom this order targets.
As headlines poured in from sources all over the nation, the public gathered in dozens of protests outside major international airports. Their chants made no mistake of their intentions. Passionate cries of “Let them in,” and “No hate. No fear. Immigrants are welcome here,” can be heard in any video footage of the protests since the ban was signed. The former chant is sometimes amended to state, “Muslims are welcome here.”
It is no secret that the seven nations have Muslim-majority populations. The insistence of dangerous, radical Islamic terrorism is one of Trump’s fallback arguments. Often, the excuse that we do not know who is coming into our country is cited to further support bans and measures like these.
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) released a fact sheet about the refugee vetting process in October 2015 that debunks this argument. “It takes 18 to 24 months for the checks for proposed refugees to the United States to be conducted.” MPI further cites that Canada vets their refugees in a four-month process. What further methods need be applied?
Closer to home, protests took place on Jan. 29 in Bangor International Airport and Portland International Jetport. Though Maine is far from the metropolitan hub that these larger, televised protests take place in, there is still opposition and room to make our voices heard.
The University of Maine is a temporary home to many international students. Because of the quickness and uncertainty surrounding this immigration ban, there is no guarantee that our international classmates will be safe to move in and out of the country in the months ahead. Students with families outside of U.S. borders are left to wonder if the ban will grow in size or create complications with visitations.
The terms of the ban are largely temporary — barring entry of all refugees for 120 days, along with a 90-day block for citizens of the seven countries. Considering how quickly this situation unfolded over the weekend, there is no guarantee that the president will not push the ban in either direction. These time periods may lengthen or become indefinite, if we may read into Trump’s aggressive immigration stance during his election campaign. Already, judges throughout the nation have been working to put emergency stops on selections of the executive order. This may prove the downfall of the ban as we move forward.
Ultimately, the country is standing on its toes. While refugees of Syria are denied access to yet another safe haven — and Muslim Americans are faced with another executive decision painting them as dangerous liabilities — Trump has claimed, “It is working out very nicely.”