Saturday, January 28, 2017

UN 1951 Convention on Refugees: "without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin."

Hurricane Sandy/Photo: Newscom

A disturbing Saturday morning at the end of a disturbing week.

Yesterday, President Trump issued an executive order on immigration that slammed "the border shut for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Boston, an Iraqi who had worked as an interpreter for the United States Army, and a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio, among countless others," reports the NYT (Trump's Immigraton Ban blocks travelers at airport and around the Globe).

500,000 U.S. green card holders might be affected.  Some have been barred from reentering the country says Vox. Others are being admitted after extensive questioning.

The executive order is being challenged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in an action, Darweesh v Trump, filed yesterday by the ACLU, supported by Yale law school, The International Refugee Assistance Program, the National Immigration Law Center, and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP.

We think of refugees from past wars. Anne Frank's family was deterred/kept out by our protectionist, navel gazing, immigration policy in 1941. We think of 1939 and the ship St. Louis, filled with 935 German refugees, which was turned away outside Miami.

We think of our invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the fact that we have significantly contributed to the Syrian refugee crisis. We have a moral responsibility. Trump is turning our nation's back on this moral responsibility.

What the order does in part...

Trump's executive order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to "immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat."

... and what, pray tell, does Trump imagine we've been doing since 9/11/2001? In the wake of the terrorist attack we imposed an exceedingly strict vetting process of refugees and asylum applicants.  See this White House graphic. As a result, Syrian refugees have had to wait 18 months to two years before being admitted. As a result accordingly to the Cato Institute, the chance of being killed by a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is about one in 3.6 billion. The terrorist threat from refugees is non-existent.

Trump's order suspends entry into the U.S. from seven countries for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Trump's order suspends entry of all refugees into the United States for the next four months, and suspends the entry of refugees from Syria indefinitely.

Trump's order puts us, at the very least, in violation of the spirit of the UN convention and the 1967 protocol regarding refugees which provides that refugees must be accepted "without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin."

Trump's order does not bar entry from Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 hijackers who crashed commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania cornfield, killing more than 3,000, hailed from. The United Arab Emirates where two of the 9/11 hijackers originated is not on the list. Egypt, where one of the ringleaders of 9/11 (Mohamed Atta) originated is not on the list. Lebanon, where one hijacker originated is not on the list.

An Irrational, Cruel, and Arbitrary Act

Here is Stephen Griffin at Tulane Law School writing at the group law professor blog, Balkanization:
"The White House just threw a cloak of legitimacy around arbitrary discrimination against Muslims and, in doing so, Trump employed an explicitly religious rationale.  This puts us in exceedingly dangerous territory. .... The action is also wholly arbitrary.  There is no rational basis for this policy.  This is like policy as fantasy football, policy as vanity plate.  There is no evidence of an increased danger to the US from Syrian refugees or any other refugees.  If terrorism is the problem, I suppose we might be more concerned by people traveling from France and Belgium than Yemen and Somalia.  But however we analyze the policy, the underlying reality is that it is not the result of any rational policy process.  There was no process.  This is pure prejudice." 
Follow me on Twitter @RolandNikles


Read Benjamin Wittes, Sr Fellow at Brookings at Lawfare. (He concludes: "You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point.") I.e. he sees the same motivating force as I argued in my recent ACA article.

Read David Bier at NYT, discussing the illegality of the order.

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