On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order to suspend travel from seven Middle Eastern countries for 90 days and the acceptance of refugees for 120 days.
The affected countries where Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Syrian refugees where indefinitely banned, and religious minorities, likely Christians, will be given preference.
Shortly thereafter, there was chaos at airports around the country as airport officials attempted to deal with the sudden and unexpected order. Green card and passport holders were detained at the airport as protests formed outside. Then federal judge James Robart of Washington state, a Bush appointee, halted the travel ban. Upon being elevated to a higher court, the Robart’s order was upheld by a panel of three judges.
Now that Trump’s travel ban is dead in the water, his team has a few options. The first is to take the issue higher up to the ninth circuit court (or possibly the Supreme Court). Another option is to go back to Judge Robart and attempt once again to argue for the merits of the travel ban (perhaps tweaks could be made that might change his mind). Lastly, some on Trump’s team have toyed with the idea of simply passing a new order that would account for some of the things that got the first one suspended.
While there are not documented instances of Americans being killed by refugees from the seven banned countries, a number of refugees have been arrested for planning or executing terrorist activities. Curiously, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were left off the list despite people from all three countries being involved in the 9/11 attacks, the majority of them from Saudi Arabia.
We could speculate all day about why this is the case. Could it be because Trump plans to build in Saudi Arabia and the UAE? Could it be that Saudi Arabia is a huge producer of oil? It’s hard to say, but it all seems quite arbitrary to me. I don’t support the ban any way, but it might as well be consistent.
Whatever happens next, you can bet it is going to be controversial. Not a day has gone by that people haven’t been up in arms, and it’s going to be a long four years for us all. And when the executive branch comes up against resistance like this and it’s headed by someone as stubborn as Trump, we could be looking at a constitutional crisis.