You’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed the controversy that’s arisen over the past week.
But if you’re not sure what this headline’s about, it’s entirely fair that you may have wanted to escape the vitriol that’s emerged with Trump’s dramatic change in immigration policy.
Anyway, as much as I don’t want Travelscriber to become entirely politically-based, I also recognise that culturally-aware travel does not exist independently of history and politics.
So let’s talk about Trump’s Muslim-ban, shall we?
What does a Muslim-ban entail?
The New York Times released a full copy of the Muslim-ban from Trump as soon as the information became available. While the piece is littered with legal jargon which can make it difficult to fully understand, a number of severe repercussions were felt immediately.
The citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries were banned from entering the United States for 90 days. Students, visitors, and permanent residents that were originally from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were stopped at airports across the US, and barred from entering the country.
It is also assumed that dual-citizenship holders are also subject to the ban, should they leave the United States and wish to return.
Syrian refugees have been indefinitely barred from entering the United States, and all refugee admissions have been suspended for 120 days. Trump has also instituted a cap of 50,000 refugees to be admitted to the United States annually.
The significance of the Muslim-ban is that it’s a result of an Executive Order from President Trump (I shudder as I write that title). And what is an Executive Order?
It’s not actually implementing new laws. Rather, it’s about outlining to the United States Government how to enforce current legislation. That’s right: an Executive Order has to fit within the United States constitution. Which begs the question as to how a blanket Muslim-ban fits into current, constitutionally-based law.
The repercussions of the Executive Order in the United States
Trump’s Executive Order went into effect immediately, meaning that people entering the US across the country’s airports were detained and questioned upon landing.
On an aside, I’m curious to know what the security officers at those airports felt, having to take a bunch of people into custody that they wouldn’t have looked at twice otherwise.
Anyway, it seems I was not alone in my aspersions. Mass protests were held in both Dallas Fort Worth Airport and John F Kennedy Airport, broadcasted live to social media. Lawyers set up their own makeshift legal centre at JFK Airport, working pro-bono to assist the people detained by officials. New York Taxi Workers Alliance similarly halted their activity around JFK Airport to support the protest of the Muslim-ban.
Uber, however, continued to service the area, even going so far as to halt its surge pricing. This then incited outcry against the company for undermining the human rights protests at JFK Airport.
Eventually, Federal judges in New York, Virginia and Seattle enacted emergency stays against the Executive Order, meaning that the people who were stuck in limbo at a number of US airports were admitted to the United States. Now, a lawsuit has been brought against Trump for jeopardising the safety of quite a few individuals due to instituting the Muslim-ban.
While it is heartening to see that there is strong democratic opposition against the Muslim-ban, there’s still the question of how the temporary stays are going to play out in the long term. And, whether the Muslim-ban will be considered constitutional, and become a mainstay in American legislation.
The international repercussions of Trump’s Executive Order
It’s exhausting to think about what exactly the Muslim-ban and immigration changes are going to impact in the long term, but suffice to say it’ll be bad. Especially when we look at some of the immediate repercussions across the Middle East, good ol’ Australia, and the United Nations.
The Iranian Government has already released a statement saying that it would be taking ‘reciprocal measures’ in the face of the Muslim-ban from the United States. The Sudanese and Iraqi governments have responded with distaste for the new rules. Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia are yet to respond - namely due to the extent of the humanitarian crises that each of these countries are currently experiencing, some to the extent of not even having a functioning government.
It’s heartbreaking to consider that over half of the countries that Trump has targeted with his Executive Order on the 27th are so devastatingly affected by conflict - so much so that they cannot even muster an answer to the immigration ban. Support is being cut off to exactly the people who need it.
And where does Australia come into it?
The US’ immigration ban now potentially jeopardises the previous agreement it has with Australia that was made under the Obama administration. Reports say that Trump has confirmed that the deal will proceed, but doubts remain as there has been no detail around the plan.
And what is that plan?
I am being a bit harsh. These refugees need a place to live safely and prosper - whether it be in Australia, or in the United States. But I have always remained a critic of Australia’s policies around processing refugees … as has the United Nations. To cut a long story short, Australia takes refugees into custody on islands off the coast for ‘processing’ before being admitted to the country. However, detainees are indefinitely kept in squalor, and have little to no contact with the outside world. Riots and suicide are rife within those places.
While the deal that Australia struck with the United States during the Obama administration seemed like a great outcome at the time, now with Trump in power, this may not be the case. Now it’s uncertain what the reception will be like when these refugees do reach the US, how long they will be stuck in detention, and even if the terms of the original agreement will be respected.
To put it in Aussie terms: shit’s fucked, aye.
And then there’s the United Nations
The United Nations has released a short statement against Trump’s new policy. While it largely maintains a positive outlook on working with the United States to change the current Executive Order, it forgets to mention that the current state of immigration in the US is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. You know, the one that the United States attended along with the rest of the world in the 1950’s. Where they signed an agreement that excluded people from being protected as a refugee on the basis that they were known to have been involved in terrorist activity - not as a result of religious persecution. The United States is heading down the path that Australia has already tread with its immigration policy … and that’s not something to be proud of.
The tl;dr version of this blog post is basically this: the US ain’t being nice to people, despite the fact that they signed an agreement to be nice to people, and now it’s having national and international repercussions. To solve the problem, everyone just needs to start being nice to each other again - and we’ve seen a good start to that with the protests that have occurred at the airports throughout the US. This is going to have some serious effects for people worldwide who are looking to travel, especially if they have some form of citizenship that is from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and/or Yemen. Whether other countries will follow suit from the Trump's actions, only time will tell.
But what I really want to know is this: is this really what people had in mind when they wanted to ‘make America great again’? What do you think of the recent happenings with the Trump administration? Share your thoughts in the comments below.