President Trump suspends immigration from seven countries with executive order


In his first week in office, President Trump has signed a record number of executive orders, a practice which he criticized now former President Obama for during his campaign.

Luke Dalessandro, Politics Editor

One of the foremost campaign promises of then presidential candidate Donald Trump was a shutdown of visas issued to all Muslims to the United States, as he put it during the announcement of the plan, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” However, upon extensive pressure on the Constitutional validity of a religious ban, the original campaign promise was reneged in favor of a ban on countries, ‘compromised by terrorism.’ 

To a certain extent Trump has implemented this campaign promise. On January 27th, an executive order issued by the president temporarily barred visas from seven Muslim majority nations, being Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. In a statement made by Trump at the Pentagon, he said in respect to the order, “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don’t want them here. We only want to admit people into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.” Under the executive order, the refugee program in entirety is suspended for 120 days after it has come into effect, as well as blocking all refugees from Syria indefinitely. In total, the seven nations in the ban account for 40% of U.S refugee intake.

Public support for the ban has been shown to be generally positive, and had an exceedingly divisive effect. Quinnipiac University polled U.S citizens on “Do you support or oppose suspending immigration from terror prone regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions?” 48% of those polled supported the concept, while only 42% claimed opposition to it. However this is not to undermine the strong enmity of many towards the ban, with protests against it being held at airports across the country, namely JFK International Airport in New York, Dulles Airport near Washington D.C., as well as the Los Angeles International Airport.

Heavy criticism was also lifted towards the seven countries which were chosen as part of the ban. However, in response, White House spokesman Sean Spicer claimed that the decision was made based on policies implemented by now former president Barack Obama, implying this in respect to the visa waiver system. In the U.S, citizens of thirty countries are permitted to legally have short stays in the U.S without having a visa utilizing this program. Among the countries included in the waiver program are Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. However among those not eligible for the visa waiver are those who are citizens of or have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen at any point after or on March 1, 2011, and must apply at a U.S consulate for a visa.

However, a common factor of five out of the seven countries, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are all currently or have been bombed or attacked by the U.S during Obama’s tenure in office. Based on information from the U.S Department of Defense, as of information updated as recently as January 25th, the U.S and a coalition of nations including Australia, Canada, and Jordan have conducted 10,984 strikes in Iraq and 6,786 strikes in Syria. The U.S has unilaterally conducted 7,421 of these strikes in Iraq and 6,482 of them in Syria, over 75% overall.

Operation Inherent Resolve Targets Damaged/Destroyed: Tanks: 164; HMMWV's: 388; Staging Areas: 2,050; Buildings: 7,984; Fighting Positions: 8,638; Oil Infrastructure: 2,638; Other Targets: 10,074; TOTAL: 31,900
The U.S alone has contributed over $10.9 billion dollars for military engagements in Syria and Iraq.

In August 2016, the New York Times reported that the U.S has stepped up military engagements in Libya, another country where visas have been suspended, writing “The U.S stepped up a new bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Libya, conducting it’s first armed drone flights from Jordan to strike militant targets.” These engagements specifically took place in the coastal Libyan city of Sirte. In Somalia, potentially the largest counter terrorism strike in U.S history was recorded, with 150 killed in a U.S attack at an Al-Shabaab recruitment and training. In his first two weeks as president, Donald Trump has carried out his first military operation in Yemen. In the attack authorized by Trump, which took place in the southern province of al-Bayda, medics estimated the death toll around 30. Included in this death toll are multiple civilian casualties such as upwards of 10 women and children.  According to data collected by the United Nations humanitarian coordinator, the war in Yemen, in which the U.S. has stood by its ‘ally’ Saudi Arabia, has resulted in a minimum of 10,000 civilians killed or gravely wounded. Saudi Arabia, an Islamic Wahhabi theocracy, which shares a religious ideology with ISIS, is not included in the executive order despite this.

Questioning of the list of countries included has also been levied due to the countries not included, which has gone further than Saudi Arabia, but also Muslim majority nations which have been considered state sponsors of terrorism, including Qatar. Qatar has been criticized based on accusations of being a terror financier, being called on occasion “The Club Med for terrorists.” In spite of this, Qatar remains exempt from the ban. In potential connection with this, Trump does have business interests in Qatar because the international airline Qatar airways has a New York office in Trump Tower. Furthermore, the Dubai based retail brand Lifestyle announced that it would be partnering with the Trump Organization’s line of home decor, Trump Home, exclusively in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. At the time, CEO of Lifestyle Sachin Mundhwa told magazine Arabian Business that, “We chose to collaborate with Trump Home for an exclusive Middle East launch keeping in mind the growing demand of the region’s style-conscious consumer’s need for premium and bespoke brands.” The same situation of a potential conflict of interest is the case with Saudi Arabia. Shortly after he launched his presidential campaign, Trump registered eight companies in Saudi Arabia tied to hotel interests there. At an Alabama rally after the registration of these companies, Trump said, “They buy apartments from me, they spend $40 million $50 million, am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.” Consistent with his proclaimed affection for Saudi Arabia, Trump has left Saudi Arabia, also a country criticized as a state sponsor of terrorism,  exempt from the ban.

In spite of this, in response to allegations of a potential conflict of interest, White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus said, “Just like I said very clearly, the countries that were chosen in the executive order to protect Americans from terrorists were the countries that have already been identified by Congress and the Obama administration.” on Meet The Press. However, many ethics lawyers have continued to disagree with Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush who claims that, “Somalia is on the list, but Saudi Arabia is not. People from Somalia are going to say that’s arbitrary. And one of the factors, people are going to say, is the president does business with Saudi Arabia but not Somalia.”