Trump’s Travel Ban: An International Travesty

Cartoon by Joe Gallina.

On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld the latest iteration of President Donald Trump’s “travel ban.” In February The New Paltz Oracle published an editorial denouncing the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13769, also known colloquially as the “Muslim ban”, the first attempt at such action. The ban would “suspended refugee admissions for 120 days and the entry of all travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days,” as reported in our earlier editorial. Only a week into his presidency, Trump showed the nation that the anti-Islam rhetoric lining his campaign would carry over into his behavior in office and even be acted upon.

The first implementation of the ban was immediately met by outcries from the American public. Protesters rallied around international airports throughout the country calling for the order to be struck down. The language of the order prevented the entrance of even permanent residents of the United States from the banned nations, though they were later exempted from the ban, creating confusion among families around the country. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union took action almost immediately, helping to pay for legal fees for travellers and residents alike and urging judicial action to combat the ban. Lower courts challenged the constitutionality of the ban and removed momentum from the Trump administration’s anti-Islam policies. The restrictions set by Executive Order 13769 were lifted as judicial proceedings began, but the administration was not deterred.

In the 11 months since Trump entered the Oval Office, three iterations of the travel ban have been ordered from the president’s desk. Now, however, the damage created by such a ban seems to loom ever closer. The Supreme Court’s orders to uphold the ban allow the administration to “fully enforce its new restrictions on travel from eight nations, six of them predominantly Muslim,” according to The New York Times. “For now, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be barred from entering the United States, along with some groups of people from Venezuela.”

The bans have been an unfounded extension of the anti-Islamic stance Trump flaunted throughout his campaign. Claims that “Islam hates us” and calls for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the United States filled his speeches leading up to his election. Trump has actively tried to combat what he has referred to as “radical Islamic terror” and incite an anti-Islamic mentality in the collective American population, capitalizing on a post-9/11 view on the Muslim world. Late last month, Trump shared videos on his personal Twitter account purportedly showing incidents of violence carried out by Muslims. The videos, posted by the ultranationalist group Britain First, were titled: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” The latter two videos were four years old and shared by Trump without context. Neither of the boys shown in the first video are Muslim, as reported by The New York Times and confirmed by Dutch officials. Elected officials internationally and at home were quick to denounce Trump’s actions and call attention to the purpose of such videos. “Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people,” said the United Kingdom’s prime minister Theresa May in a statement from her office. Trump responded to May via Twitter saying “don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism [sic] that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

The extreme, misguided views of Trump and his administration are – despite the damage they do – largely unfounded. Right-wing associated domestic terror incidents nearly doubled those carried out or planned Islamic groups and individuals from 2008-16, according to a report from The Investigative Fund. In 2017,  some of the biggest incidents of domestic terror – like the Las Vegas shooting – were carried out by white men. Reports of domestic terror attacks followed in the wake of events like the Charlottesville riots and were tied to alt-right protestors. A lack of reason, sadly, has not led to a lack of action.

We at The New Paltz Oracle demand that the Constitution of the United States be upheld; we demand that the people of this nation, and those coming to this nation, be afforded the right to practice their religion, free of discrimination or hate-fueled rhetoric. We call upon the appeals courts of the United States to fight this travel ban along with any that may follow, regardless of form, in an effort to preserve the American dream and values of the true patriots of this free nation. We call upon the average citizen to reject Trump’s rhetoric and the anti-Islamic sentiments that have been bubbling up in our culture. In this nation, one we claim provides hope for the oppressed and opportunity for those who seek it, we must stand together, now more than ever, to become a truly united people.