The world gawked at then Republican nominee Donald Trump's call for a "total and complete shutdown" on Muslim entry into the United Sates, but very few of us thought this would become a reality. A year and a half later, we are seeing President Donald Trump lay the legal groundwork for the Muslim ban, and it's not looking good.
Trump hasn't yet signed the executive order on Muslim-targeted immigration restrictions, penned and released to the public yesterday. But there is little doubt that the document will join the heap of beyond-our-wildest-dreams executive orders (example: the wall on the borders with Mexico, the freezing of global funds on int'l groups that promote abortion...).
Here's what we know so far, and how it will affect you.
1. The executive order is not yet a blanket ban on Muslims, but it can be
The draft executive order so far singles out six nationalities, but, in theory, it can very well come to include all Muslim-majority countries. Sections (e) and (f) indicate this strongly.
The draft order stipulates that the Department of Homeland Security (a department created by George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11 attacks) has the legal power to add countries to the immigration ban. Given the language of the draft order, including not-so-subtle references to Islamism, those countries will almost certainly be Muslim-majority states.
Section (f) states that the list can grow indefinitely.
The draft order speaks of blunt tools to tackle terrorism--it clearly states that immigration restrictions post-9/11 did not go far enough to "stop attacks by foreign nationals". So it is easy to foresee countries like Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan added to the list given the existence of Islamist groups in the respective countries.
2. Christians and other minorities can skirt the ban IF they claim that they are persecuted
The only refugees that can skirt the refugee ban are non-Muslims. Yes, you read that right. This is the clause that extinguishes doubt that this may not actually be a Muslim-targeted immigration ban.
The draft law makes an exception on its refugee ban for religious minorities only if they can claim that they are victims of persecution.
3. No refugees allowed in the US for the next 120 days
The draft order places a cap of 50,000 refugees for the year 2017 (less than half of Obama's), and suspends entry of all refugees into the US for 120 days.
4. No Syrians allowed...indefinitely
The draft goes on to order the creation of "safe zones" for Syrians -likely the most vulnerable group of people in the world- in and around Syria.
The ban applies to both Syrian nationals -now personae non grata in the United States of America- and refugees.
5. For 30 days, no entry for nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen
There is now a ban on individual countries designated in Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 consolidated appropriations act. These are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The ban is in place for 30 days.
6. It's not just immigrants -- foreign-born US citizens will be subject to security screenings
US citizens are also part of the mix, and it's another reason to view this not only merely as a new set of immigration restrictions but as a Muslim-targeted measure.
Foreign-born individuals will be screened for "radicalization" -a term typically associated with Islamism and Muslims- and for views regarding women and "honor killings" -a practice seen as an extremist Muslim custom.
The language is unclear, and this could go in all sorts of directions. But it is definitely not reassuring.