We are called the “United States” because all our states are united in the belief that all are created equal and deserve equal treatment under the law regardless of religion, ethnicity or economic advantage. In a democracy, the title “citizen” is higher than that of president, in part, because the president works for us.
Citizens have both the right and duty to mold the future legacy of our country. Hence we must uphold our principles and stand for human rights within our borders and overseas. However, on Friday, Jan. 27,Mr. Trump’s executive order banned nationals from seven countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days, suspended all refugee admissions for at least 120 days and stated that no Syrian refugees can be admitted until further notice.
This executive order violated international law that requires countries to give refuge to those in critical need. Mr. Trump’s executive order bans refugees from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen from coming to the U.S.
These seven nations are countries where Trump has no business holdings. In signing this executive order, President Trump was fulfilling a promise he made in 2015 on the campaign trail to put a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the U.S. What he has overlooked is the fact that refugees arriving now are coming to our shores after an 18-month vetting process. After consultation with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump was cautioned by his legal team not to call it a ban based on Muslims (because that would be discriminatory), but one based on “security concerns.”
In issuing this executive order, there was little to no consultation with the Departments of Justice, Defense, State and Homeland Security. Embassy officials were not told about this, nor were border and immigration agents given advance notice to carry out this executive order expeditiously.
Congress has also been blindsided by this executive order with opposition coming from both sides of the aisle. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham notified Mr. Trump of their displeasure with this order that they felt was against human rights and would make the U.S. less secure because it would be used by ISIS against us. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said this “Muslim ban is against everything we stand for,” and Vice President Mike Pence stated that “calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.”
This ban affects about 1 million international students (about 5 percent of our nation’s undergraduates) studying in U.S. universities. It’s estimated that these international students add $30 billion a year to our economy. Moreover, a significant percentage of our physicians are Muslims, and immigrant physicians are most likely to serve rural areas. When these international students return to their own country, they can become lifetime ambassadors because of their experience in the U.S. With this ban in place I’m afraid we’ll have a brain drain.
I urge all of us to remember that “an assault on Muslims is an assault on the common humanity of us all.”
Richard Penaskovic is a Professor Emeritus at Auburn University.