Blanket Bans Make No Sense

I do not support the travel ban and hope that our Taoiseach will not meet with the US President unless the ban is lifted. America has been a very good friend to Ireland and so we must be a good friend to her now and not support this.

There is already a global backlash well underway about this and if you think that our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, should not visit the White House for St. Patrick’s day unless the ban is lifted then you can sign a petition that says “not in my name” here.

I don’t know this youtube channel but I came across this video and thought It was worth sharing. I still believe there is enough safeguards and protections of human rights in the states that this won’t be allowed stand. Hopefully I’m right on this one.

Here are some stories of people who were refused entry into the US (or detained for a number of hours) this weekend purely on the basis of their nationality.

This is the story of the federal judge who halted refugee deportations. And that is why the world loves the US.

It took me ages to write this short little post because I couldn’t think of how to put my dismay at what’s happening into words. Below is how I began it.

I don’t know what to say or how to express my dismay at discovering that – yes, Donald Trump meant everything he said during his election campaign. I never supported him but when he was elected and made his victory speech where he sounded so reasonable I thought- oh great, he didn’t mean it, it’s going to be fine. In fact I thought there would be a silver lining to his election because I believed he did want to improve the US’s infrastructure and that sounded like a very good plan. I even posted about it saying Calm Down America, This is no Brexit. Over the next week or so I saw a few troubling news reports that made me think I should take the post down and then I watched a video which said that Trump’s infrastructure spending plan would not be about direct spending on road building, etc. but would amount to tax breaks for large companies to incentivise them into doing the works … I don’t know. At that stage I decided I didn’t know enough about it so I took it all down.

It feels like there is this determined effort going on to divide people, doesn’t it? I’ll bet if you’re a Trump supporter you feel like that too. Please realise that I am not against you. At all. I’m not against anyone (well, if someone’s been personally mean to me I won’t like them – but I still won’t wish them ill). I am against this travel ban because yes, it is racist (it’s anti-Muslim there are no two ways about it) and also it makes no sense. This ban will not make the US more secure. It’s banning everyone from those countries, yes, just for 90 days (unless you’re in Syria), but that ban means that people who have worked with US forces, people with valuable skills who are travelling to the US, people who are travelling to join their families in the US are denied entry for no reason other than the country they come from. It’s not right. So if you support this ban am I against you? No I’m not against you, I’m for you – that’s why I’m not going to let you be part of something that is wrong. I’m not anti people but I am anti some policies. And if you don’t want to be anti people then you always have to look beyond whatever policy is proposed and see how it will affect people, ordinary everyday people. If we let the actions of extremists guide our policies we can end up hurting grievously and unnecessarily the lives of ordinary everyday people.

*****

5th February

Since last Sunday, many federal judges in the US have issued temporary stays on the order or parts of it, and then at the end of the week a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide temporary halt of the ban. Seems like the separation of powers is alive and doing its just job – so democracy remains intact. The real case has yet to be heard but watching the protests and the progress of legal challenges has been very encouraging – and it’s just great to see people sticking up for what’s right and each other.

If you agree with the ban and are pulling your hair out right now shouting “It’s not a Muslim ban, it’s only temporarily stopping entry of people from 7 countries.” You’re right that this is not a Muslim ban it was devised in a way that it couldn’t be called that on its face but this ban is anti-Muslim and could potentially pave the way for a full Muslim ban.

The first big signal is that it targeted not just refugees but immigrants. The order talks about protecting the country and making sure that people are who they say they are. Because refugees can be literally running from their homes in the middle of night, running for their lives so they don’t have time to pack their passport, birth certificate or anything, it can be difficult for asylum seekers to prove they are who they say they are, and unfortunately it can happen that it’s necessary to suspend a refugee programme while vetting and screening processes are audited and improved. A temporary suspension of this kind, though regrettable is understandable. However this order also suspended entry of people with valid immigration visas. An immigrant is someone who can prove they are who they say they are with relative ease because they are not in hiding or running away, they are people who have decided to go to a country, they have a specific reason for the visit, they have all their documentation to prove who they are.

The second major sign that the order is anti Muslim is that it talks about making changes to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality” – that is about allowing in only Christian refugees from Muslim majority countries. Just to be clear the people committing war crimes in those countries are killing Muslims too – and in far greater numbers simply because there are far more Muslims there. Some people appear to think of Muslims as one homogenous group – that really isn’t the case. As an example of how wide-of-the-mark this view is, do you know which Muslim majority country provided the most strategic help and assistance to America when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001? Iran. This is because the Taliban (a group of Sunni Muslims with extreme views who were in control of Afghanistan at the time) are enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran (a Shia Muslim controlled state) – they are on better terms now and the Taliban seem not to be as extreme as they once were. Iran also offered to help in the invasion of Iraq but I think that offer was declined. Iran is fighting ISIS (Da’esh) there though – I think – and they’re fighting them in Syria. The situation in Syria is even more complex. I’m not going to pretend to have any kind of handle on what’s happening there and I’m going to admit something which might make me sound ignorant – prior to that conflict breaking out I thought there were only three types of Muslims; Sunni, Shia and Sufi. There are lots more. Regarding the the mix of cultures and ethnicities in North Africa, the Levant and the Middle East I only know enough to know I don’t know enough. This video made in October 2016 provides an overview of the Syrian conflict at that time.

The worry that this order could lead to a full scale Muslim ban, that it was testing the waters first, was due to the fact that the order leaves open the possibility of adding more countries to the list, and to the initial confusion as to whether it applied to Green Card holders from those nations, so people who were already legally resident in the US and had gone through a rigorous vetting process.

America has every right to protect herself. Personally I believe a safe and strong America means a safe and strong world. I don’t think this ban protects anything – according to this video it could actually make fighting terrorism more difficult.

I think there needs to be a global response to the refugee crisis. Leaving it to nations to step up and offer to accept people isn’t a sufficient response and may be aggravating the problem of offering true asylum to those seeking it. This is a topic for a different post though.

Anyway it’s great to see the safeguards that exist in US at work to protect liberty for all.

*****

Rosie Ayliffe says president is wrongly using daughter’s death in Australia to further ‘persecution of innocent people’ – worth reading

*****

08/03/2016

So as you probably know Trump signed a new executive order on Monday temporarily stopping people from certain countries from going to the US. This article runs through it. The bit at the end entitled ‘What changed: Trump’s travel ban‘ is very informative. Gone is the language about prioritizing refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, which I mentioned above as being a particularly obvious sign of an anti-Muslim basis to the old order – so that’s good. Also gone is the indefinite banning of Syrian refugees which is really good. Green card holders and valid visa holders are explicitly exempted from this new order – which makes sense and is obviously good. The order doesn’t go into effect until March 16 so no one should be affected mid-air as it were – again that’s better. And Iraq is no longer on the list of countries to be “banned”. I can’t really call that good because, being honest, I can’t see the point of banning people from any countries in a blanket manner like this – but I understand that sometimes immigration and refugee programs need to be halted temporarily while processes are improved and countries have every right to do this. Obviously enough. I have concerns though and we need to watch what happens in July – will we see the banning of people from 6 Muslim majority countries end or will the order be extended?

I have other concerns too … but I’m afraid they’re more of the tin-foil-hat variety … yeah, I’ve kinda tumbled down the “wait, is the Trump administration acting in collusion with Russia?” rabbit hole. I’ve tumbled hard enough that I suspect my head is now rooted where it can’t see daylight. So when I heard about this new order my first reaction was “hey, are they carving up the region into areas of would-be American influence versus areas of would-be Russian influence – the 6 countries that are banned?” I know, I know, it’s madness… And the worst thing about this sort of madness is that it makes you forget the actual people affected by this – we have to just focus on treating each other well and equally – if we can achieve that what does it matter what games the powerful play?

15/03/2017

A federal judge in Hawaii has temporarily halted the new order. He looked beyond its text to the history of the order and the rhetoric that led up to and surrounded it, and found it to be unconstitutional. In order for the new order to be enforced a higher court would need to overturn the decision. Here’s an article with more information on the ruling.

26/06/2017

The Supreme Court has allowed Trump partially enforce the ban while they review it. I think what they are allowing is that the administration can deny entry/visas to people from the six countries except to people “with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” – so admittedly it’s no longer a blanket ban. Here’s an article about it. They will give their final decision later this year. I think the President in the US has wide discretion regarding immigration policy but there are safeguards in their constitution to prevent discriminating against people on the basis of the their religion. I think the lower courts found that the orders did amount to discrimination but they looked at the rhetoric and background of those orders and the Supreme Court probably won’t do that. Justice is blind after all.

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