What you heard:
President Trump signed an executive order (yeah, I’m really fucking tired of those words too) banning refugees with the purported purpose of “protection from radical Islamic terrorists“.
What it is:
Read all about executive orders here.
Refugees are people who are forced to leave their home to escape war, persecution, or national disaster. These people are mostly women and children. Once a refugee arrives in the US or at the border, they apply for asylum; asylum is only granted if a person can prove they are at risk of harm if they return to their home country for reasons like race, nationality, religion, massacres that have already taken the lives of half a million of their countrymen, etc.
The term “radical Islamic terrorists” is a racist term made up specifically to convince your crazy uncle or Fox-“news”-watching grandparents that it’s okay to let hundreds of thousands of people be slaughtered just because they’re Muslim. The term could – and should – be very easily shortened to “terrorists”, because terrorism is not specific to any one religion or ethnicity. Also, most terrorists are not Muslims, and you’re more likely to be accidentally shot by your toddler than killed in a religiously-motivated attack. Unless you’re at a clinic that provides abortions, of course, because white Christian dudes bomb those pretty frequently.
What it means:
Quick sidebar: I actually had to get up and go for a walk just now because the “radical Islamic terrorist” thing got me so worked up.
Actually, this e-order does a few things. Naturally, none of them are good. In addition to suspending the entry of refugees into the US for 120 days, it bans the entry of anyone from seven entire nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). Most horrifically, it stops the admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely. Trump also ordered that, moving forward, Christian refugees be given preference over Muslim refugees.
Do you want to throw up yet? I’m not even done.
We’ve already seen a bit of what it means for non-US-born travelers, workers, students, and those traveling for medical care: immediate chaos at airports around the world. Even green card holders, who are permanent legal US residents, were not allowed to board aircraft to fly home to their families in the US, or were detained upon their arrival in the US, meaning they’re trapped at JFK in some nightmare version of The Terminal.
What could happen:
People – mostly women and children – are going to die. Quite literally and quite simply. Since Syria is top of mind for so many people (including, unfortunately, this administration), I’ll start there. The civil war started after President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on protesters that were responsible for the massive uprising as part of the Arab Spring. It’s been six years since then, and here’s where we are now: nearly 5 million Syrians are refugees, more than 6 million are internally displaced, it’s estimated that 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, and half a million have died. Half a million people.
The US already admits an embarrassingly low number of Syrian refugees – 10k or so in 2016 – and approximately 80% of those refugees are women and children. By turning these families away, we are sending them back to destruction and rape and death in Syria. We’ve buried our heads in the sand before, and after the Holocaust or Rwanda or Serbia we say never again, never again. Yet here we are, again.
In another recurring theme, we can also expect a ton of lawsuits to come out of this horrific action. There have already been suits filed on behalf of detained individuals, and there are broader ones to come on the basis of religious discrimination. Make no mistake: this order is 100% about legalizing discrimination against Muslims, not preventing terrorism. The US takes in nearly equal numbers of Muslim and Christian refugees already – it’s not like there’s some broad government conspiracy theory to make sure Christian refugees aren’t allowed asylum (sounds like somebody’s projecting, wouldn’t you say?). An incredibly high majority of acts of domestic terrorism are committed by non-Muslims, not refugees who are so scared for their lives and the lives of their families that they leave everything they know behind to come to a new country with unfamiliar language, culture, and customs. You’ll also notice that Saudi Arabia, where most of the 9/11 terrorists hailed from, but where the US and Trump himself have lots of economic (+ oil) interests, is absent from this list of banned countries of origin. Let’s all stop pretending that this is anything but what it is: codified religious discrimination that condemns tens of thousands of innocent people to death.
In addition to the immediate massacre of women and children, there are some scary implications for the US as well. We’re moving farther and farther from the tenets laid out in the Constitution and getting closer and closer to a government that legislates based on “Christian values” and racism, which besides being a violation of the Constitution at the root also threatens things like a woman’s right to birth control & abortion and makes it easier to dismantle voting protections for non-whites. The first week of this administration has shown us that it has in mind a systematic dismantling of of the freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution and Supreme Court.
Never lose sight of the fact that a government so eager to take away the human rights of others today is a government that will not hesitate to take yours tomorrow.