The Legal Case Against Trump’s Muslim Ban

Let’s be clear: Donald J. Trump does not have the Constitutional power to enact the executive order he issued last Friday, banning citizens from seven countries from traveling to the United States and barring refugees for 120 days (and refugees from Syria indefinitely). To be fair, he’d (arguably) be technically in the clear if he had made an exception for green card holders, but he didn’t. The United States green card lottery program even has a page titled Permanent Residents Are Entitled to the Bill of Rights. They are also entitled to protection under all federal and state laws. Essentially, once they are granted permanent residence, they cannot be detained or deported simply because of their country of birth. Particularly when the basis for such a ban appears to be religious discrimination. Those who arrived in the United States on Friday evening were not detained and/or deported because of a crime, or a review of their visa/immigration paperwork. They were harassed because the Trump administration has decided to punish Muslims.

It is worth noting that Trump has insisted that his order is not a “Muslim ban”. His case would never stand up in a respectable court of law. Rudy Giuliani said in an interview with Fox News on Saturday that Trump originally asked him how to create a “Muslim ban” legally. Trump, himself, has said that he will prioritize Christian refugees (once the refugee ban is lifted). The text of the refugee ban declares that priority will be given to refugees who “identify with minority religions” in their country of origin. For those not keeping tally, in majority-Muslim countries, that means prioritizing Christians, while discriminating against Muslims. Not enough? Try this page from his own website: Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration. He can try to claim it’s not religion-based, but renaming it doesn’t change what it is.

And it’s important to note that his claim that any of this is necessary doesn’t hold a drop of water. The terrorists who carried out 9/11 weren’t from any of the countries on the ban list. In fact, no one convicted for a terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11 has been, either. Furthermore, Trump’s justification for prioritizing Christian refugees is completely logically inconsistent with his own executive order. In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Friday, he stated: “Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.” And yet the order bans all refugees from Syria indefinitely.

It’s also worth stating that Trump’s order is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, which states that signatory countries (yes, the United States is one) may not discriminate against refugees solely on the basis of their nationality.

All of this, of course, does not even consider the sheer moral cowardice of, with no warning, blocking parents from reuniting with their children, immigrants eagerly anticipating their first day at a new job in the United States, or those who had finally completed the long and arduous process of applying for visas and residence. It does not touch on the inexcusable trauma inflicted on those who were detained for hours or days, without access to a lawyer or an understanding of what was happening to them. It does not address the deterioration of our international relationships or the fact the Donald Trump has single handedly given ISIS and other radical Muslim groups their best recruiting propaganda yet. All of that is just cruel and stupid.

But when we turn out to fight this, as we will continue to do, we must remember that the action Trump has taken is also illegal, and we are the ones standing up for the right side of the law.