Posted by Kristin McCarthy on March 14, 2017 in Blog

Yesterday, President Trump finally unveiled the second iteration of his Executive Order temporarily banning refugees and visa issuances to individuals from six Arab and Muslim majority countries. While there are significant differences between the first and second versions, the Executive Order (EO) issued yesterday remains discriminatory, inhumane, without a factual basis, and counterproductive to U.S. national security interests. It is indeed a “Muslim Ban 2.0” and should be fought as such.

While many focus rightly on the urgent legal battles, there are two under-reported points that are critically important to begin organizing against locally If we want to avoid the monstrous long term implications of the revised ban.

First, President Trump’s Muslim Ban calls for new screening procedures including additional questions on applications that can be an “ideological test” regarding religion and allegiance to the United States (see Section 5).

Second, President Trump’s new Muslim Ban calls for states and local jurisdictions to play a greater role, and perhaps have a final say, in whether or not refugees are resettled in their districts (see Section 6d).

The potentially devastating impacts of these provisions should be taken seriously given the past statements of President Trump and his allies on this issue. As a candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly promised an “ideological test” for immigrants, and we saw hints of a proposal he was considering that made mention of questions about the applicants “support for Sharia, jihad, equality for men and women, and the U.S. Constitution.” The second provision in consideration is even more concerning given the 30 governors who have previously gone on the record against allowing refugees to be resettled in their states. The Section 6d provision empowers these governors to reject refugees for no reason other than their obvious bias and xenophobia.

Our activation against these two provisions cannot be delayed even while the most urgent legal needs are attended to. Why? The new Muslim Ban includes a new lawyerly provision that says if one part of the order is overturned, the rest of the order stays in effect. These two provisions, on screening and on local jurisdictional involvement, must be a part of advocacy and legal cases now.

There is a need – and space for groups and communities – to look beyond the 120-day crisis and get ahead of these two insidious provisions. Because after the ban is lifted, or the most egregious part of the Order is overturned, these two provisions stand to remain as stains on our refugee resettlement program. Local communities and advocates can and should pressure city councils and state legislature to pass bills that support refugee resettlement, and condemn Trump’s Muslim Ban. Organizers can and should reach out to their local resettlement agencies to help meet impending budget gaps that are facing their staff and resource gaps that are facing the refugees they serve. Communities are not powerless. Indeed, local networks of engaged and empowered activists hold a great deal of power to fight back against the on-the-ground effects of Trump’s ban. You can find resources and support from AAI online here.

These two points should not take away from  the urgent legal actions happening as a result of yesterday’s order. Because the new EO rescinds the prior one, all the lawsuits challenging the first Executive Order are now charting a new path forward, and much remains unknown. Added to the existing lawsuits, the ACLU has promised new legal challenges to the second order. These legal cases are imperative to lessen the damage to impacted individuals as well as the American values that this order undermines. What’s more, the legal aid that lawyers and organizations are providing to people impacted by this ban (immigrants and their families alike) have continued with the greatest compassion, patriotism, and indefatigability imaginable. Several members of Congress have expressed their intent to pass legislation that would overturn the President’s order.

While supporting the legal and legislative attempts to overturn the order, we must also be explicit in what we are fighting: the power granted to local jurisdictions is poisonous, and the provision that will allow for ideological screenings of immigrants & refugees alike is fundamentally counter to American values. Both provisions should be overturned.