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Executive Order Barring Muslims and Refugees from Entering the U.S. Sparks Outrage

Last week, President Trump issued an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” banning the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries into the Unites States.

The order, which is being referred to by members of the administration and others as the “Muslim Ban”, denies all immigrants and visa holders from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya entrance into the country for 90 days. Furthering the restrictions, all refugees are banned from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees are suspended indefinitely. The limit on the number of refugees permitted to come into the States decreases from 110,000 to a total of 50,000 for the year 2017.

The ban sparked national and international upset and is raising questions on the contradictions between the restrictions and their supposed intent. Christians and other religious minorities from the banned countries have been granted preference once it comes time to decide who is eligible for entry. Many are calling this a direct violation of the First Amendment upholding freedom of religion.

Additionally, the ban does not encompass Muslim-majority countries with whom Trump has business ties, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. In the United States, there have been a total of zero deaths as a result of terrorist attacks by people from the seven countries that Trump has restricted. The 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

Since the Muslim Ban went into effect, protests have erupted across the country. On Saturday, thousands of people flocked to airports nationwide where immigrants and refugees, green card holders, non-US dual citizens and legal residents of the United States were being detained. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), hundreds of immigrants traveling to the United States were rerouted back to their country of origin. On Sunday, the DHS said they would be allowing “legal permanent residents” that are not of a “serious threat” back in, but details on this statement remain unclear.

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington was one of the numerous airports at which protesters gathered, drawing a crowd of 3,000. Following the protest on Monday, Washington became the first State to file suit in federal court against Trump’s temporary Muslim Ban, alleging it is unconstitutional and unlawful.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has emerged as one of the leading forces fighting back against the Muslim Ban. They filed suit twenty-four hours after Trump issued the executive order and won a temporary stay in Brooklyn Federal Court. Their lawsuit argues that the Muslim Ban is unconstitutional and in violation of the 1965 law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of immigration status and national origin. Federal Judge Ann Donnelly barred the portion keeping out immigrants and refugees with valid visas who had already arrived at U.S. airports, granting them stay.

The executive order was signed after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved the nomination of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, and his vote on the Senate floor is likely to take place on Wednesday. If confirmed, Tillerson will undoubtedly inherit the responsibility of handling the international relations and internal State Department conflicts that have already resulted from the Muslim Ban, including the close to a thousand foreign service officers who legally demonstrated opposition to the order through the Department’s dissent channel.

Media Resources: VOX 1/27/17, The Telegraph News 1/31/17, CNN 1/30/17, CNN 1/29/17, ABC 7 News 1/30/17, The Guardian 1/30/17, The Independent 1/31/17, The American Civil Liberties Union 1/28/17 CNN News 1/29/17

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