After sowing chaos at American airports and tearing apart refugee and immigrant families that have already, or were about to, legally settle in the US by implementing a temporary immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, the Trump administration claimed in a statement that “this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.”
“This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” the statement read.
Actually, this is about religion, and it is not making America safer. Trump’s executive order bans most refugee admissions for 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely, and bars immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. However, Trump has made an exception for Christian refugees, saying, “We are going to help them,” and has not included any Christian-majority countries in his executive order. The White House is considering denying entry to foreigners who fail to “embrace American values,” CNN reports. It is very clearly laying the groundwork for exclusionary, “America first” immigration policies. It’s entirely possible that Trump could extend both the length of the ban and the countries included in it.
So far, none of this is likely to reduce the threat of terrorism. Most terrorism in the US is perpetrated by white supremacists, not jihadists. There have been no fatal attacks post 9/11 by immigrants from any of the seven Muslim countries included in the ban. Notably, his ban does not include Muslim countries where Trump has business ties, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, home of the 9/11 attackers and al-Qaeda officials. And refugees, who already go through extensive vetting, are fleeing persecution and simply trying to rebuild their lives.
The one thing the ban is doing very effectively: stoking hatred and racism. Since the signing of the executive order, a Texas mosque was set on fire and a gunman killed at least six people at a mosque in Quebec. In a statement condemning the executive action, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham wrote, “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
In an interview with Fox News on Saturday night, Trump fanboy and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani divulged that “when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’”
Let’s not forget, too, that the Muslim ban was a focus of Trump’s campaign. Though his position shifted often, he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” after the San Bernardino shooting. In his ominous speech on immigration in June, Trump said, “The ban will be lifted when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country.”
Despite all of this, the White House has chastised the media for calling the executive order a Muslim ban. But on Monday morning, after an eventful day of watching Finding Dory, Trump sat back and took some pride in having sprung America into calamity. He then admitted his order is, in fact, a “ban,” and it is meant to keep out the ‘bad ‘dudes.’”
On the bright side — if you can call it that — the ACLU is reportedly about to launch a lawsuit to overturn the executive order, claiming it discriminates against Muslims and is therefore unconstitutional.
This post has been updated to reflect police have singled out one suspect in the Quebec shooting, in which at least six people were fatally shot.