A Bipartisan Coalition Is Pushing Back Against The Unexpected Consequences Of Trump's Executive Order

"Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred."

As immigration officers began enforcing President Donald Trump's executive order to bar citizens from seven countries from entering the United States, confusion and concern spread among State Department officials, immigration activists, Republican lawmakers and liberal pundits.

It was a rare moment of alignment between officials, activist groups and politicians who don't usually find themselves on the same side of the aisle. The universal pushback demonstrates how Americans can find consensus on topics as divisive as immigration. 

As news broke about the executive order, which largely bars refugees and non-U.S. citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States during a 90-day period, activists became outraged at the broad nature of the order. Language that prioritized religious minorities — which in most cases would mean non-Muslims — drew rebuke from the left. Soon after, reports began breaking that green card holders, permanent U.S. tax-paying residents, were being detained upon arrival. So were refugees who had undergone extensive screening, aides to U.S. military in the Middle East, and — according to multiple reports — children as young as 18 months old. 

This set off protests across dozens of major airports throughout the country, and eventually drew the ire of lawyers, federal judges and even Senate Republicans.  After four congressmen were turned away by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, who were effectively ignoring a federal court order not to detain visitors who had already arrived, congressman Don Beyer declared a "constitutional crisis." In a joint statement by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, President Trump's executive order was criticized for its lack of vetting.

"It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted," the two former Republican presidential candidates wrote. "We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security."

Soon after McCain and Graham released this statement, State Department officials reportedly collaborated on a draft of a memo dissenting with Trump's executive order. According to an alleged copy posted by Lawfare, the State Department officials laid out four key outcomes they predict will  result from the executive order:

1. It will immediately sour relations with these countries. 

2. It will increase anti-American sentiment, particularly amongst the under-15 population of these seven nations, which accounts for a third of their populace. 

3. It will have an immediate humanitarian impact, cutting off access to life-saving medical treatment.

4. It will hurt the economy. Foreign travelers put more than $250 billion into the U.S. economy in 2015 alone, supporting over one million U.S. jobs. This executive order cuts out a chunk of those travels and, consequentially, that money.  

"We are better than this ban," the memo reads. "Looking beyond its effectiveness, this ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold."

That sentiment, that the United States is "better" than a decision to bar refugees and immigrants from certain countries, is one that is quickly getting a foothold throughout a nascent coalition of opposition. It is not common for liberal activists, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Democratic congressmen, Democratic senators, federal judges, State Department officials, Republican congressmen, Republican senators, defenders of the Constitution and political pundits on both sides of the aisle to be singing the same tune. 

And yet, a bipartisan sentiment rejecting this executive order — or at least rejecting the way it has been implemented — has coalesced in just a few short days.

Rallying under the hashtag #NoBanNoWall, immigrants, minorities, and allies have been speaking out against the ban — and proposed funding for a border wall — since President Trump signed a slew of executive orders last week. The support now coming in from colleagues and allies of the Republican party indicates that the new Trump administration may be running up against its first political tug of war early on in its tenure. 

Perhaps the growing sentiment is best summed up by the final words in Senator McCain and Senator Graham's public statement, one being widely shared across social media:

"At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. 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."

Cover photo: Shutterstock / Drop of Light

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