Day 8-10: Trump targets Muslim Countries in Refugee Moratorium
“You guys have got to stop taking him so literally.” This line, made famous by every Trump goon to traipse into a cable news studio, somehow seems more relevant every day. #NotMyPresident Donald Trump promised a “total and complete shutdown” of all Muslims entering the country during his campaign—not to mention the proposed national Muslim database he was “fine with”—and now, strangely, we have an executive order that’s pretty darn close.
Perpetuating the country’s increasing Islamophobia, Trump signed another Trump Decree on Friday, halting all refugee admission and resettlement in the United States for 120 days. It also indefinitely barred refugees from Syria and six other Muslim-majority nations from entering the country. The new restrictions affected people in transit to the United States almost immediately, with two Iraqis detained in an airport upon arrival despite their valid visas. Their lawyers, who sued the government for their release, say that an estimated 100 to 200 other travellers could face the same problem. Then on Saturday, a federal Judge ordered a partial block on Trump’s executive order, mandating that refugees who were recently detained in U.S. airports upon entrance into the country should not be sent back to their home countries. However, the judge did not go on to say where these people will go, essentially leaving them in limbo until a resolution of the case. If you think this sounds like this is a hasty, brash PR stunt of an executive order, with several flaws and clear logistical problems, you’re right.
The point of Trump’s lengthy moratorium, apparently, is to further intensify an already rigorous vetting system for refugees—with screenings by several security agencies, fingerprints, and biometrics. Ultimately the process for permitting refugees into the country could take two years or more, essentially the amount of time it takes for a war-torn country to destroy whole cities. As he promised during his campaign, Trump is introducing extreme screening measures aimed at Muslim refugees.
Refugee resettlement operations local to Syracuse, Catholic Charities and Interfaith Works of Central New York, will also be hurt by the moratorium. The city is a known refugee hub, taking in 1,112 new Americans in 2014. Interfaith Works, which helps settle 40 to 50 of them per month, will be forced to shut down its Center for New Americans and lay off or cut back hours for 14 to 15 staffers, and Catholic Charities has instituted a hiring freeze, according to Syracuse.com.
The executive order also affects green card holders from the seven targeted countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen— barring them from re-entering the United States. In a White House briefing, reporters were told that re-entrance would be determined on a “case-by-case” matter.
Meanwhile, at Syracuse University, the Slutzker Center for International Services sent approximately 50 students from the affected countries who are here on student visas an email telling them to not to travel outside of the country, lest they be barred from returning. According to The Daily Orange, the director of the Slutzker Center, Pat Burak, said the number of affected students could be higher since the executive order also applies to green card-holders. That may be subject to change, however, as White House officials are beginning to poke more holes in the policy.
Hani Sullieman received one of the emails from Pat Burak. A refugee from Syria and a PhD student at Syracuse University, Sullieman left his home to study in the United States. Right now, his employer helps to pay for his work visa, but he says he is unsure what he will do when he graduates. “I don’t know if I’m going to get an H-1B visa or a green card to stay here,” he says. “They keep changing the laws and regulations so I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Sullieman’s hometown of Aleppo has been devastated by Russian airstrikes since September 2015, and has been nearly destroyed by civil war there. He says it’s unfair to target these countries in the name of protecting the United States. “People have been killed, women, children… Buildings and the infrastructure of Syria has been totally destroyed. The young people can’t go to school and get an education,” he explains. “You cannot overgeneralize that all Syrians are terrorists or bad people.”
Here we are: Day 8, 9 and 10 of the Trump presidency. This policy is already throwing White House officials and Americans alike for a loop. I can’t wait for more decisions to be made in rooms full of people they will not affect.