ANNALS OF A DISASTER

mother

^Mother from Iran, 5-year-old son reunited after he was detained for several hours at Dulles Airport

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NOTE >>>>> UPDATED 01/31/17 at 11:00 AM

The execution of it was incompetent, the timing insupportable, the wording sloppy, the consequences a total disaster politically, diplomatically, morally.

I refer, of course, to the President’s Executive Order banning entry to the United States by certain classes of people cited in the order itself. I will link you to the Order itself soon enough — below — but first a few additional comments need be said:

First : why needed the order be issued so soon, at, a time when there is yet no Secretary of State confirmed ? When the entire senior management of the State Department was asked to resign, leaving no one in managerial authority to help implement ?

Second: why were the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Council not given opportunity to vet the Order and suggest details of implementation that, as we saw, were utterly lacking ? DHS Secretary John Kelly said that he only learned of the Order’s being signed by watching the President on television ! Kelly said “we were still discussing it” when he saw the signing on TV !

Third : did the President not realize — did no one TELL him ? — that we are currently locked in battle, alongside Iraqi government forces, at the gates of West Mosul, and having the Order bar Iraqis from entering the US was hardly likely to make battlefield co-operation any easier, indeed just the reverse? How could the Order, for example, make no exception for Iraqi translators and other aides who risk their lives (and that of the families) to assist our soldiers on the scene ? The Order made plenty of exceptions; but none for these people at risk.

Fourth : how could the Order appear to ban holders of H-B1 visas, who form the backbone of our technology and scientific innovation industries, and even to prohibit, or impede, travel by “Green Card” holders, who are permanent residents of the US enjoying, by law, all the rights accorded to citizens except those appurtenant to voting ?

I think there’s a ready answer for these questions, but I admit that it is speculation on my part, backed only by more than 40 years of observing politicians at work. I think the haste, the imprecision, and the secrecy of the Order were all intended. More on this subject later.

And now a link to the Order itself in its entirety : http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/text-of-trump-executive-order-nation-ban-refugees/

( 1 ) Reading the Order, you find that it makes numerous directions to the Secretary of State and to the Attorney General; yet at present the nominees to each position have not been confirmed and thus the two posts are vacant. Why was this Order issued prior to there being persons in office to execute the directions the Order gives them ?

( 2 ) The Order does not only ban travel to the US by citizens of the seven banned nations. it also purports to change immigration procedures and standards. Yet immigration rules are a matter of substantive law, not of executive pleasure. The laws governing various immigration categories cannot be altered by the President, nor can the procedures established by law for immigrant application.

( 3 ) Because the Order purports to alter the laws governing immigration, Green Card holders — who have permanent residency and are accorded all rights of a citizen other than those appurtenant to voting — were initially caught up in the hectic enforcement of the Order. It took almost two days for the Homeland Security Secretary to direct that the Order did not apply to Green card holders.

( 4 ) lastly, the Order barring refugees in some cases indefinitely appears to violate commitments made in the Geneva Refugee Convention, of which we are a signer. The relevant responsibilities are itemized in the Convention, which I link to here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_Relating_to_the_Status_of_Refugees#Rights_and_responsibilities_of_parties_to_the_Refugee_Convention

Those who cite our nation’s (regrettable) refusal to admit 1938-39 refugees from Nazi Germany as a precedent for Mr. Trump’s refugee ban have it wrong, because the GRC did not exist then. It was signed in 1952.

By this act and the Order’s other provisions, enormous damage was done to the respect in which our nation is held, not to mention the denials of rights to those who were detained by the Customs and Border Patrol acting without any precise direction and often uninformed about the order itself. By no means do I excuse the CBP; many of its agents, especially at Dulles Airport outside Washington, acted with callous cruelty. Reports came of agents pressuring incoming Green Card holders to sign away their status or be detained and deported. There were also reports of agents asking incoming, detained travelers if they “love this country” — doubtless as part of the Order’s directive to the CBP to interview travelers in depth as to their attitudes and interests.

These reports, if true — and I have scant reason to doubt them — equate the US with notorious dictatorships in which the government pressures the beliefs and thoughs of citizens and visitors at all points.

We cannot be this kind of nation. We cannot third-degree interrogate visitors and immigrant applicants. We can certainly vet the biographies of immigrant applicants, but even then, we must accord applicants some measure of dignity. Handcuffing five year old children and holding elderly, medical patients wheelchair bound for almost two days cannot stand . (Even those without ordinarily Constitutional rights, are, if under our control, still entitle to basic human rights, as Justice Frankfurter wrote, of prison inmates, in a landmark 1940s Supreme Court decision.) We cannot be extorting Green Card holders, nor granting visas only to cancel them without warning, or remove people from flights to the US without warning on a CBP supervisor’s whim. People spend good money to buy international air tickets; they set aside vacation time to do so; they plan such trips well ahead. Students make plans to attend university here. Technical and medical people accept contracts to work at clinics and laboratories here. Patients in need of advanced medical care book appointments to our hospitals. Many technology firms depend upon Green Card holders and people with H-B1 visa credentials. We cannot be blanking all of their time, career plans, student entry, and money on the spur of a moment — not if we want to attract any respect at all in parts of the world where our word and reputation are crucial to our battlefield success.

It is reported that the President’s top advisor,m Steve Bannon — who incredibly has been appointed to the security Principals List, while the Joint Armed Forces Chiefs have been removed ! — objects to immigrants and visa holders becoming part of our economy, universities, and hospitals; that he considers them a foreign element (to what ?); it has also been very solidly reported that his world view is a white-supremacist one; and that the Order represents his views pursuant to his having written its purpose portions. Certainly the thrust of this Order is to oppress and intimidate citizens of the seven nations cited (and by implication, those who live in similarly Muslim-majority nations not (yet ?) cited. The anti-Mulsim, far right political cliques with which Bannon seeks American collaboration all want complete expulsion of Muslims from their nations; and if such a view is barred by our Constitution and our nation’s ideals, that seems no problem for a man who regards the Constitution as naive and the system upholding it an obstacle to the white tribe, tribal society he wants.

If these things are true, indeed if simply the white nationalism of it is true, then Bannon must go, and the Order he apparently had a major hand in drafting must be revised — as Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has insisted be done.

Most importantly, the Senate just act upon two bills filed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein, bills that would render almost impossible the confusion and skullduggery that made the current Order a disaster on so many fronts. I doubt we’ll ever fo0rget the sight of a Mom hugging her five year old (!!) daughter freed after hours and hours of detention at Dallas Airport. But we CAN assure that this scene never happens again on US soil.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

 

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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