One week to the day from his inauguration, President Trump signed into effect his most globally destabilizing executive order so far — a United States travel ban which bars entry for all refugees for 120 days, and Syrians indefinitely, as well as visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The refugee action flies in the face of America’s commitment to provide for those fleeing war torn areas under the Geneva Convention. As such, it set off immediate and vast protests at airports around the nation over the weekend and quick condemnation from most leaders of the international community.
Iran foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted this would constitute a "great gift to extremists," while even Brexit leader and Trump's UK spirit-brother Boris Johnson added it was "divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality."
At a few major American airports, the government had detained travelers who found their status as lawful entrants switched while mid-air. Amongst those detained were green card holders, who are foreign nationals who have legally secured "permanent resident" status after vigorous vetting, that happened to come from those countries. Lawyers quickly rushed to the airports to provide pro bono legal services to those affected, as crowds gathered to chant "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here" along with many other chants that were creative, comical, and staunchly anti-Trump and fascism along the way. At LAX, where I reported from yesterday, they got some Ludacris remixed. ("Move Trump, get out the way! Get out the way, Trump, get out the way!")
Opponents of the Trump order experienced a temporary victory on Saturday night, when ACLU lawyers prevailed in a lawsuit they filed on behalf of those detained in a federal district court in Brooklyn. The judge there rolled back a part of the order — primarily preventing deportation for some of those detained — though the ruling is temporary, and didn’t address the underlying constitutionality of Trump’s executive action.
Critics have focused not just on the substance of the order, but also the sudden haste in its implementation, which has contributed to a sense of destabilizing panic. Trump has replied via Twitter, with reference to "bad dudes":
If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017
As for identifying these bad dudes, President Trump now denies that his order is a "Muslim ban," despite campaigning on that specific idea. Instead he insists it is the "extreme vetting" he also promised; the high coincidence of Muslim lives affected by his order is not, he contends, an actual religious test.
At LAX, as around the nation, protestors disagreed. "We’ve seen rhetoric from Trump and his administration that reflect a clear bias against Muslims," Syed Hussaini of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told me. "It’s just a nice way to say we’re banning Muslims, but just to kind of get around it," added his colleague, Ali. Both young men are US citizens and Muslims, one born here and another born in Pakistan. As young Americans of Islamic descent, they clearly felt the rise in the hateful and fearful rhetoric against their culture. "But I will say," they added forcefully, "This is the most help and cooperation I’ve ever seen from people of other faiths…I’ve seen that change in the past 18 months."