Here are some of the problems with this approach;
- Banning people simply on the basis of country/religion violates multiple international laws/conventions including the Geneva Convention on refugees as well as human rights law that forbids discrimination on basis of religion or nationality.
- Justifying the ban on the basis of addressing terrorism is a flawed perception and a concept I do not accept as a matter of principle (Ends Justify the Means). It seems to me that Security has effectively become the convenient vehicle setting us towards a slippery slope path that encourages discriminating against minority communities and particular ones already vulnerable to racism & hate crimes-something that in actual fact only compounds the problem of terrorism and plays well into terrorists organisation narrative/mirrors their overall objectives. It also complicates our task of social integration/cohesion which should be our main priority considering the increased level of migration. So by all measures this seems to be a self-defeating approach. Note that list of countries mentioned in the ban is “initial” and likely to increase based on a recent interview with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Meet the Press.
- Critical policies that affect our security let alone ones that also impact our social cohesion require detailed review/analysis by professional government bodies as well as parliamentary oversight to assess viability/ramifications and should not be rammed through the political system by executive order or any fast track system-that is ill equipped to address even legal implications or defining the processes/scenarios involved. Remember these are solutions that may seem short term but their impact are certain to be lasting, so relying on shallow campaign rhetoric and using rhetoric to stir public debate that is not purvey to intricacies of national security strategy/existing procedures is not the way to go in dealing with such critical issues.
- For any objective assessment of this issue one needs to establish some context. Part of that context as relates to this particular executive order are the following facts;
a) It is indisputable that the Trump campaign was the most racist/bigoted/xenophobic rhetoric packed campaign that we have ever seen in US history-and possibly western history-particularly towards vulnerable minorities including Muslims, African Americans and Hispanics. So when we begin to see policy linked to Trump campaign rhetoric being fast tracked into the system without legislative oversight or valid justification then we can safely assume this in not strictly about national security but one that is more deep rooted in ideological convictions. And beyond this particular issue, Executive Orders should be the exception to the rule and NOT treated as the norm as demonstrated by former US President Barack Obama during his term in office when using this mechanism as a discretionary power to enact law.
b) It is also indisputable that the composition of the current US administration team in charge of national security includes some of the most ultra-right individuals that we’ve seen in any previous US administration with a well documented track record in this direction including; Stephen Bannon, Michael Flynn and Reince Priebus (you can research their profile on the web to assess their views/credentials)-worth noting here that Stephen Bannon has links to the European populist right leaders including Marine le Pen & Nigel Farage which strongly suggests a level of cross-border coordination.
Just considering these facts alone should make one more inclined to question true objectives of policy coming out of this particular administration more than any previous one.
- One of the arguments used to defend this policy is comparing it with the Barack Obama policy in 2011 where a similar ban was applied to Iraqi citizens entering the US. However upon further scrutiny of this observation by reviewing the Obama policy-which can be found here-you will eventually discover a few big differences;
a) Rather than a blanket ban on individuals the Presidential Proclamation was constrained as per clause 1(a & b) which both begin with the following statement;
Any alien who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in, including through command responsibility, widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population based in whole or in part on……..
b) Section 6 states; Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to derogate from United States Government obligations under applicable international agreements, or to suspend entry based solely on an alien’s ideology, opinions, or beliefs, or based solely on expression that would be considered protected under U.S. interpretations of international agreements to which the United States is a party.
c) The 2011 policy which only affected one country was in response to specific threat information about Iraqis seeking to use the refugee program to enter the United States and carry out terrorist acts. And while it tightened visa requirements for people entering from the seven countries, the Obama administration never sought to bar them.
As such it is clear such a comparison does not hold on closer review.
Just as a side note to say I was actually opposed to a complete open door policy on refugees at the start of the crisis and reasons were related to both security concerns as well as past/present failures in dealing with immigration/integration conundrum-had we been successful in this later area we might have afforded being a bit braver in our approach. So I am all for prudent/measured security measures, but what I am against are policies that do not make any sense whatsoever and merely give the perception of racial/religious profiling-this is where the buck stops as far as I am concerned. What we need is sound policy to enhance/reform and not panic politics to destroy.
Finally, let me just say this; irrespective of our political affiliation let us try hard to push back towards centre grounds because believe it or not this is where pragmatic solutions are found. Remember we are NOT considering building a predominantly multi-ethnic/diverse society-we already have one to deal with and we will continue to hit a brick wall if we try to establish a social order that fails to factor this into account. It is also worth noting that racism/bigotry/xenophobic tendencies are by and large symptoms of divisive politics that has plagued our political echo system for far too long-we should NOT allow this trend to continue unchallenged but rather do all possible reverse it by demanding our politicians adhere to certain base standards in political debate, otherwise the destructive force from within is the one that will bring us down not Terrorism.