By Jannelle Dang
On Jan. 27 President Donald Trump signed an executive order to temporarily block travel from seven Muslim-dominated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, from entering the United States for a period of 90 days.
According to the Guardian, it also paused the country’s refugee admissions system for 120 days, and abolished the Syrian refugee program altogether. Although Trump’s decision was made in the interest of protecting the nation from the possible entry of terrorists from foreign countries, the U.S. Supreme Court should suspend the order on the basis of its unconstitutionality and misalignment with American principles.
An executive order is a declaration issued by the president, but it does not hold the same power as a law, which can only be made by Congress. Yet, it is still holds weight because it directs how federal agencies use their resources and funds for certain projects.
President Trump’s order demands that security agencies carry out extreme vetting processes that are discriminate against Muslims. Although the text of the order does not explicitly use the words, “Islam,” “Muslim,” or “Christian,” it is clear that the ban singles immigrants out based on their Muslim faith.
Former mayor of New York and adviser to Trump, Rudy Giuliani, stated to Fox News, “When Trump first announced [the order], he said ‘Muslim ban… Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”
The order violates the provision of freedom of religion in the First Amendment of the Constitution, which states that Congress cannot make laws that prohibit individuals’ religious practices.
Ironically, Vice President Mike Pence argued against such a ban during his term as Indiana’s governor when he tweeted on Dec. 8, 2015, “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the US are offensive and unconstitutional.” Furthermore, it infringes upon citizens’ rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the laws regardless of one’s faith.
It also defies core American values of inclusivity and equal opportunity. Because the U.S. already has rigorous screening policies and complicated legal processes to attain citizenship in place, the number of immigrants who are allowed into the country is already limited. Enforcing the ban would mean turning away more people who risk their lives to escape violence and persecution, further diminishing their chances to rebuild their lives in a safe haven.
USA Today reported that on Feb. 3, U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart of Seattle passed an order to temporarily nullify the executive order, which went into effect nationwide. Robart stated to CNN, “[Trump’s order negatively affects] residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations, and freedom to travel.”
The U.S. Department of Justice appealed to have the immigration ban restored, but was rejected by a federal court, whose decision should be echoed and reinforced by the Supreme Court.
It is the judicial branch’s job to check the power of the president and help ensure that the nation remains just and loyal to its morals. By ruling that the executive order is unconstitutional and revoking it, the Supreme Court can prevent consequences that would have devastating impacts for millions of refugees, and avoid damaging America’s image as a beacon of hope.