Almost two weeks ago, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia), arguing that a ban on immigration from these countries will improve national security and reduce the potential for terrorist attacks. President Trump’s executive action has sparked a major controversy in the US and has raised numerous questions. Overall, it can be argued that President Trump’s executive order is morally reprehensible and goes against nearly every value the US stands for. Here is a list of the reasons why Trump’s executive order is unethical, inhumane, and an example of public policy at its worst.
1. The action itself is unconstitutional and discriminatory
The executive order is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, which states that Congress or the Executive Branch will not put forward any laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” Additionally, the Supreme Court also declared in the case of Epperson v. Arkansas (1968) that the federal government may not “aid or oppose any religion” through the policies that it seeks to implement. President Trump’s executive order clearly favors Christianity over Islam, as it states that the US will continue to take in Christian refugees from Muslim-majority countries as opposed to aiding Muslim refugees in Muslim-majority countries who face religious persecution.
The executive order also creates a negative precedent that may be used to justify future violations of civil rights and civil liberties of both Muslim-Americans and Americans who hold dual-citizenship from Muslim-majority countries. As such, one can conclude that the executive order by President Trump is a blatant violation of the US constitution and is a violation of civil rights and civil liberties.
2. None of the countries affected by the executive order were involved in past terrorist attacks on US soil.
In order to justify the actions, President Trump claimed that the countries included on the list were directly involved with the 9/11 Attacks and in numerous other terrorist activities in the US. In actuality, Trump’s statement is entirely false. For example, the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (countries that are not included in Trump’s executive order). Additionally, according to a report by the think tank New America, no individual from any of the seven countries committed any violent attacks on American soil. Additionally, the report further states that most terrorist attacks are not carried out by refugees, but instead by people who are already American citizens who became radicalized due to a multitude of factors such as continued economic inequalities, religious bigotry, and racism.
3. All of the countries on the list are victims of aggressive US foreign policy
Another common theme shared by all seven of the countries included in President Trump’s executive order is that they have been victims of aggressive US foreign policy over the years. Here’s a list of the countries and the actions by the US in each one:
• The US has followed an aggressive policy towards Iran since 1953, when the CIA participated in a Coup that removed the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh from power and gave Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, increased political powers in relation to the elected government of Iran. Over the next 25 years, the Shah ruled Iran as a brutal autocrat with full US-support, torturing and executing thousands of political opponents, attempting to force secularism and Western values on the Iranian people, and personally profiting off the selling of Iranian natural resources.
- After the 1978-79 Revolution that resulted in the Shah’s overthrow and the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the US has repeatedly sought to undermine and destabilize the Iranian government through numerous policy actions. For example, the US (under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan) strongly supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War and provided Hussien with chemical weapons that were used against Iran, supported groups such as the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK), a militant group that has killed 20,000 Iranian civilians, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in 1988 (killing 290 people), placed crippling sanctions on Iran through the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, and played a role in encouraging protests against the Iranian government in the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian Presidential election.
• The US and its allies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States have played a major role in the escalation of the Civil War in Syria since 2011 by supporting rebel groups in opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, placing crippling sanctions against Syria, and by attempting to isolate the Assad government and turn international opinion away from it. Because of the policies of the US, the Syrian Civil War has steadily escalated, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of at least 10 million Syrian civilians. Additionally, the increased intervention by the US and its allies in Syria directly contributed to the rise of extremist groups such as ISIS and threatens to spark a conflict between the US-led coalition and the main allies of Syria such as Russia, Iran, China, and Hezbollah (a Lebanese political party that is primarily supported by the Shi’a Muslims of Lebanon and the Maronite Catholic Church).
•The US intervention in Libya in 2011 to remove Muammar Qaddafi from power has destabilized the country and has essentially turned it into a “failed state.” As a result of the US-led intervention, some 30,000 Libyan civilians were killed and the country is now beset with a continual civil war and is a breeding ground for extremist groups.
• The US has played a major role in support of the Saudi-led intervention in the Civil War in Yemen (which began in 2015 with the overthrow of the pro-Saudi Yemeni government) and their efforts to fight against the Houthis, a Shi’a group that is opposed to the Yemeni government (which has ruthlessly suppressed the Shi’a community in Yemen). The Saudi government has primarily targeted civilian areas and is considered by many to be guilty of committing war crimes against the people of Yemen. The US has supplied Saudi Arabia with military aid and has participated in numerous drone strikes in the country. As a result of the actions by Saudi Arabia and the US, close to 10,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed and the entire country is at risk of undergoing a severe famine.
•The US-led invasion of Iraq (which occurred after a dozen years of crippling sanctions against Iraq) resulted in the deaths of close to 500,000 people and permanently destabilized the country. Additionally, the actions of the US contributed to Iraq becoming a major stronghold for extremist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda and created a precedent for future US-led intervention in the country.
•The US has been involved in covert actions in Somalia since the start of the War on Terror 15 years ago. Since 2003, the US has launched some 20 raids and 21 drone strikes into Somalia in order to take out suspected terrorists. In 2016 alone, the US launched 13 strikes into Somalia, killing 215 people. Since their initial launch, the raids by the US into Somalia killed over 400 people and did little to restore stability to a country that has long been characterized as unstable.
•President Bill Clinton placed crippling sanctions against Sudan in 1997 due to their alleged connection to terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. In reality, the US-implemented sanctions against Sudan ended up negatively impacting ordinary people by denying them access to healthcare and negatively impacted the already-weak economy of Sudan. Additionally, the US blew up the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant (which manufactured over half of the country’s pharmaceutical products) in 1998. Although the attack was supposedly aimed at Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and Al-Qaeda, no such link has ever been proven.
4. The executive order goes against all of the core values of the US
The US has historically prided itself on a reputation as a nation that takes in people in need and gives them the opportunity to have a better life free from fear and oppression. On the other hand, President Trump’s executive order goes against these values. As the well-known Iranian-American religious scholar Reza Aslan (who himself is an immigrant who came to the US in the early 1980s) noted, supporters of the executive order such as House Speaker Paul Ryan are hypocritical by not accepting immigrants and people in need because their ancestors came to the US for the very same reason that the refugees from war-torn regions and the immigrants from Muslim-Majority countries are coming to the US.