President Donald Trump recently announced that he will be issuing another executive order temporarily pausing travel of refugees and/or aliens from seven dangerous countries to the United States.
His first order on this subject stalled in Federal courts after hundreds of State Department careerists objected to the original order. His new action may once again displease the State Department careerists, federal judges and others opposed to his policy, but it may save lives in the American homeland.
During the first week of his presidency, President Trump ordered a temporary pause in refugee and alien travel to the United States from seven of the most dangerous radical Islamic terror-practicing, terror-infested, civil-war-ridden, and/or failed Muslim-majority states on earth (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). A prime purpose of the order was for the new administration to evaluate whether current U.S. visa screening procedures for travelers from those countries were adequate enough to prevent foreign terrorists entering the United States disguised as innocent refugees or aliens.
The president’s action seems reasonable to many Americans, the extent of approval/disapproval varying according to polls. One of his presidential campaign promises was to install an “extreme vetting” protocol for refugees and/or aliens from dangerous countries, in the wake of murderous radical Islamic-driven terrorist attacks in the U.S. at places like Ft. Hood, Chattanooga, San Bernardino, Orlando and elsewhere.
Nonetheless, about 900 of approximately 24,000 State Department diplomats, Foreign Service officers and civil servants (whose Dissent Channel policy disagreement with the president on this matter was improperly released to media outlets in violation of the governing Foreign Affairs Manual) objected to the president’s order. The objection came even though the State Department is the lead foreign affairs agency in implementing such presidential policies and its personnel serves on the diplomatic front lines overseas screening visa applications.
They claimed the order would, among other things, sour relations with the seven affected countries; inflame anti-American sentiments; and hurt those seeking to visit the United States for humanitarian reasons. Moreover, the four Federal judges in Washington and the 9th Circuit who stalled President Trump’s original order ruled, among other things, that it was unconstitutionally focused on Muslim-majority countries without placing the overall global Muslim population in context or addressing the governing statute giving the president the authority to act.
Americans – including the State Department dissenters, federal judges and others opposed to the president’s action – should consider the following as they evaluate the merits of the revised order which reportedly will also apply to refugees and aliens from the same seven countries:
- The U.S. Constitution’s Article 2 gives the President the authority to conduct the nation’s foreign affairs. And the Immigration and Naturalization Act, Section 212 F8 USC 82 F gives the President the broad authority to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States when the president deems it in the national interest.
- According to Pew Research, there are 50 Muslim-majority nations, with the global Muslim population estimated at 1.6 billion. The presidential executive order applies to only seven Muslim-majority nations with a collective population of about 220 million.
- The U.S. State Department’s congressionally-mandated annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” identifies the governments that sponsor and support international terrorist activities and/or have significant terror groups and activity occurring within their nation’s boundaries. All seven countries listed in the president’s order are listed in this report and threaten U.S. citizens and national security. To achieve their political ends terrorists have used genocide, beheadings, crucifixions, drownings, burnings, hangings, shootings, roof-top tossings and home-made bombs – against innocent civilians in war zones and urban areas.
- There are ongoing sectarian civil wars between Shia and Sunni Muslims, tribal wars, and/or genocide occurring in 6 of 7 countries (Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen). The State Department lists the other nation, Iran – where chants of ‘Death to America’ are routinely heard – as the world’s leading exporter of terrorism.
- The U.S. State Department does not have open U.S. embassies or consulates in five of the seven countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen). Without onsite U.S. representation, it is extremely difficult to have normal relations with host governments (if they even exist) or to properly and thoroughly scrutinize visa applications of citizens of those countries wanting to visit the United States. And in the cases where it does have representation (Iraq and Sudan), ongoing conflicts make it very difficult as well.
The actions of unelected officials – like the State Department careerists and federal judges who may have violated their own regulations or ignored the governing law or serious conditions in the seven countries affected by the presidential order – may be doing a great disservice to the American people by opposing this presidential action, and they will have blood on their hands if a terrorist, or terrorists, from any of these countries is granted entry and strikes the American homeland while courts adjudicate the president’s order.
The most important job of an elected U.S. President is to keep the American people safe. And it seems from the circumstances listed above that President Trump has the clear constitutional and statutory authority, responsibility and legitimate reasons to temporarily suspend travel from these seven dangerous nations until current visa vetting procedures are properly evaluated to better ensure that terrorists are not among those refugees and aliens cleared for entrance into the United States. To do anything less would possibly endanger American lives.
Fred Gedrich is a foreign policy and national security analyst. He served in the U.S. departments of State and Defense.