It’s pretty clear at this point we live in a world where there’s no such thing as objective news reporting. Social Media has become a den of fake news and sharing news articles engineered to express certain points of view. While our blog here certainly does not claim to be objective, I will never deliberately lie to you, or deliberately twist facts to suit my agenda. I try hard to be honest.
I am going to use the example of the Trump Executive Order on immigration. It’s not my point to argue in favor of it, but it illustrates a very important principle: one, always go to primary sources. Don’t believe someone else’s characterization of something. Read it for yourself. Follow all the citations to legal statutes, and try to understand those. Eventually, you’ll develop a body of knowledge around a subject, and it will be much harder for people with an agenda to bullshit you.
Here’s the full text of the EO. You’ll see a lot of terminology and references to law. Like, what is an immigrant and non-immigrant visa?Â What is the Visa Waiver Program? What powers does the President have to suspend foreign nationals from entering the United States?Â So let’s look at some claims:
The EO is illegal and or unconstitutional!Â The EO is authorized by 8 U.S.C. 1182(f).
Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
This is a broad power. In my opinion it should violate the non-delegation doctrine and actually be unconstitutional. But I’m speaking about what I wish the non-delegation doctrine to be, not what it actually is under today’s body of law. No court has ever overturned the executive’s use of this power, though Trump’s use of it is probably the most broad use of it to date.
The EO is a muslim ban!Â The seven countries involved are muslim majority countries, but the selection of these countries is a function of law and not the executive order. Congress passed, and President Obama signed a law in 2015 that established this list of countries. It does not represent all muslim countries. This is a bullshit characterization of the EO, though one Trump walked into by suggesting he favored such a ban during the campaign.
Obama picked these countries!Â Sort of. The Terrorism Travel Prevention Act of 2015 was attached to an Omnibus spending bill he didn’t really have room to veto. TTPAÂ denied anyone traveling to Iraq, Syria, or other countries designated by the executive branch use of the Visa Waiver Program. Basically, if you’re a German National, and you travel to Syria, you don’t get automatically admitted into the US because we waive the Visa requirement for Germany. You have to get an entry Visa if you’ve traveled to any of those targeted countries. The law specifies Iraq and Syria. The Obama Administration added Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Iran.
The EO screwed permanent residents traveling back to the United States! It did indeed. The EO does not target permanent residents specifically, but Trump, wrongfully in my opinion, did not exclude permanent residents from the scope of his EO. Those people aren’t entering the United States, they are coming home.
The EO violates the establishment clause because it favors Christian refugees!Â Actually, one of the things the EO did do was suspend the admission of all refugees for 120 days, regardless of country of origin. But whether the EO violates the establishment clause is not clear at all. It gives priority to refugees seeking asylum in the United States if they are a persecuted religious minority in their home country. This could apply to Christians, but it could also apply to YazidisÂ in Iraq, practitioners of Falun Gong in China, or Muslims in Myanmar. I think this is carefully worded enough to pass muster.
Obama and Carter did the same things! Obama’s order only applied to Iraqi nationals who were applying for Special Immigrant Visas. Basically, the program that lets translators and other people who aided the United States emigrate here so they are not in danger at home. Carter’s order suspended all citizens of Iran from entering the United States (with certain exceptions) until our hostages were released. It’s safe to say, I think, that Trump’s use ofÂ 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) is the broadest use of that power to date.
The EO violates equal protection principles! There is other parts of immigration law which bar discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas. Trump’s order certainly violates that, but the law is in conflict with the discretion afforded the President. The equal protection law came later, so there’s an argument to be made that Congress intended to modify the earlier power, but that’s not really clear. No courts have ever resolved that conflict, so it’s an open question.
That’s the best I can do for a no bullshit analysis of what’s going on. All I had to do was read the EO itself and do a bit of research into the claimed powers, and read some reasonable claims by reasonable critics and check their claims against what the law actually says.