Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes: The Presidential order that Donald Trump signed on Friday barring all refugees and citizens from seven Muslim countries from travel to the United States was reviewed by virtually no one. The State Department did not help craft it, nor the Defense Department, nor Justice. Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, “saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized,” CNN reported. Early Saturday morning, there were reports that two Iraqi refugees had been detained upon their arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport. When a lawyer for the men asked an official to whom he needed to speak to fix the situation, the official said, “Ask Mr. Trump.” This sounded like a sign of straight goonery and incipient authoritarianism; maybe it was. But it also may have been the only reasonable answer. Few people understood what was going on.
The order claims to protect Americans from “foreign terrorist entry,” but that was no reason for it. A wealth of data shows that immigrants from those countries have not been responsible for fatal terrorist attacks in the United States. At first, the acting spokesperson of the Department of Homeland Security said that the order would not apply to permanent residents of the United States. This seemed to be a sensible assumption; as fevered as the talk over immigration has been on the right, few have threatened a mass revocation of the rights of green-card holders. But a senior White House official later said that green-card holders would have to undergo screenings. Morally outrageous scenes followed. Homeland Security officials said that at least a hundred people had been prevented from entering the country, and many more had been stopped from boarding planes to the U.S. Those detained at Dulles International Airport, before federal judges issued stays of the order, included an Iranian couple in their eighties, both with green cards. One was legally blind, and the other had recently had a stroke; their granddaughter said that officials at the airport “weren’t treating them very well.” At O’Hare, a couple with an eighteen-month-old was reportedly detained, after a trip abroad to introduce the baby to relatives. [Continue reading…]