Eric Ruark's picture


  by  Eric Ruark

In a previous post we outlined the plain facts of President Trump’s executive order [EO] temporarily pausing the admission of individuals from countries previously identified by Congress and President Obama as posing serious security risks to the United States. Many media outlets have again done themselves no favors in the credibility department with their hyperbolic reporting based on deliberate misrepresentations of what the EO actually says and does.

President Trump’s EO simply ordered secondary inspections for individuals coming from “countries of concernbefore they are admitted into the U.S., and instituted a temporary pause in refugee resettlement until the President is satisfied that effective vetting measures are in place to prevent the entry of potential terrorists.

The merits of the actions taken by the Trump Administration, like all Presidential decisions, are up for debate, but no substantive debate can occur when those responsible for setting the tone of that debate resort to demagoguery and fear-mongering. It is irresponsible for politicians and influential media outlets to portray this effort as something unprecedented or extralegal.

It is always instructive to take a step back from present controversies to use the recommendations of the Jordan Commission (The U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform) as a measure of what sound immigration policy would look like.

In 1997, the Jordan Commission report to Congress recognized that current law requires the executive branch to "detain all aliens found inadmissible or deportable on criminal or terrorist grounds." The steps taken by the Trump Administration are within existing law, and were designed to put in place stricter vetting processes that will better ensure that aliens who are inadmissible due to fraud or security risks are not admitted to the United States –- and that those who qualify for admission will be admitted.

The temporary suspension of refugee resettlement ordered by President Trump is also congruous with immigration law, which states:

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.

Congress also allows the President to set a limit on the number of refuges admitted for resettlement each year. The 50,000 ceiling for FY2017 not only returns refugee levels closer to the pre-2009 levels, it is the same number that the Jordan Commission recommended for refugee admissions.

Here is the Commission's language on refugees:

The Commission believes a comprehensive U.S. refugee policy should be coordinated by an office within the National Security Council [NSC] to serve as the White House
focal point for domestic and international refugee and related humanitarian issues: to care for and protect refugees overseas; to resettle the few for whom U.S. resettlement is
the only or best option and provide sensible transitional assistance to them; to operate an effective system for protecting bona fide asylum seekers in the U.S. while deterring those who are not; and to adopt a humane and effective plan to respond to mass migration emergencies.

With a pause in refugee resettlement for 120 days, with the stated goal of resettling 50,000 refugees in the coming year, it is clear the EO in no way constitutes a “ban.” With voters expressing support for the type of actions that President Trump is taking on immigration, his critics may want to consider spending less time attempting to manufacture outrage and more time engaging in constructive dialogue about how to best fix our “broken immigration system.”

Trump’s Executive Orders
Barbara Jordan

Updated: Mon, Feb 13th 2017 @ 4:25pm EST

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