President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order is poorly designed, potentially dangerous, likely illegal and fundamentally un-American.
It should be withdrawn. Today.
The stunning order, signed Friday, unleashed chaotic scenes at busy international airports — and for the second consecutive weekend prompted thousands of Americans to take to the streets, including mobilizing a protest at Kansas City International Airport.
Their message was loud, clear and correct: We are a nation of immigrants and refugees, and a blanket prohibition on new arrivals betrays everything we stand for.
Trump’s order banned the entrance of refugees from anywhere in the world for the next 120 days and from Syria indefinitely. It’s an absurd and indefensible decision. Refugees are already intensively vetted, and they must prove a specific fear of danger to take part in the resettlement program overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and the United Nations.
The process is long and difficult. The Kansas City area takes in roughly 1,100 refugees a year, many arriving from unsettled countries such as Namibia, Myanmar and Iraq. The transplanted families, working with local social service agencies, learn English, find jobs, send their children to school. They become our neighbors.
Is there any evidence refugees have been descending upon the U.S. as part of an elaborate plot to hurt Americans? No. “The likelihood of being killed by any refugee from any country is just 1 in 3.64 billion a year,” the libertarian Cato Institute wrote Saturday. “This discrimination is arbitrary and cannot be rationally justified based on an assessment of the risk.”
The executive order allows a case-by-case exception for refugees, and can be claimed if an applicant “is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution.” Suggesting refugees fleeing for their lives should face a religious test before entering the U.S. is abhorrent.
That the order came on a day set aside to remember the Holocaust adds to the shame.
Trump’s order also bars immigration from seven nations for the next 90 days. That touched off much of the confusion and anger over the weekend — some valid holders of permanent resident “green cards” were denied re-entry into the U.S., despite their apparent legal right to return.
Families were separated. Some detainees were denied access to lawyers. Border patrol officials seemed unsure of their jobs — or the importance of federal court orders.
The travel ban was criticized by universities — including Kansas State University, run by a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — and many private businesses. Interest groups rightly denounced it.
By Sunday, Trump administration officials seemed to back away from the most aggressive interpretation of their own order. Green card holders were admitted to the U.S., at least in some places. Case-by-case exceptions were being made.
But important questions remain. Why these seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen? Why not Russia, the homeland of the family of the Boston Marathon bombers?
The answer seems clear: The White House is worried only about Muslim-majority nations. Not only is such a religious yardstick unacceptable, it plays directly into the hands of extremists now recruiting across the world.
The order makes us less safe.
Execution of the order was inept. Key White House advisers were left out of the decision-making loop. The meaning of some provisions was unclear. U.S. officials held some immigrants in handcuffs waiting for clarification.
And what happens after 90 days? Won’t would-be terrorists wait us out?
Republican members of Congress from our area predictably wobbled over the weekend. They credited Trump with addressing American “safety,” yet suggested the order had gone too far. No profiles in courage here.
We’ve included ways to contact those members if you’d like to make your views known.
The executive branch is tasked with protecting the nation, and it properly has wide latitude to enact immigration and refugee policy. Some provisions of Trump’s order may yet survive legal challenge. But to what end? The order doesn’t protect America. It encourages our enemies and violates our fundamental beliefs. It cannot stand.
Contact your member of Congress:
Sen. Roy Blunt: 260 Russell S.O.B. Washington, D.C. 20150; 202-224-5721; KC: 816-471-7141
Sen. Claire McCaskill: 503 Hart S.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20150; 202-224-6154; KC: 816-421-1639
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver: 2335 Rayburn H.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20515; 202-225-4535; KC: 816-842-4545
Rep. Sam Graves: 1135 Longworth H.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20515; 202-225-7041; KC: 816-792-3976
Rep. Vicky Hartzler: 2235 Rayburn H.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20515; 202-225-2876; local: 816-884-3411
Sen. Pat Roberts: 109 Hart S.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20510; 202-224-4774; KC: 913-451-9343
Sen. Jerry Moran: 521 Dirksen S.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20510; 202-224-6521; KC: 913-393-0711
Rep. Kevin Yoder: 2433 Rayburn H.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20515; 202-225-2865; KC: 913-621-0832
Rep. Lynn Jenkins: 1526 Longworth H.O.B., Washington, D.C. 20515; 202-225-6601; local: 785-234-5966