On Friday, January 27, President Trump signed an executive order suspending all refugee resettlement for 120 days and indefinitely suspending the resettlement of refugees from Syria. In addition to banning Syrian refugees, the president ordered a ban all entries of the nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, for 90 days, and provided that the ban might be extended and that additional countries might be added to that list.
President Trump's executive order is a major step toward carrying out his campaign threat to ban the admission of Muslims into the United States. Tellingly, the order authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security to admit refugees on a "case-by-case" basis, notwithstanding the 120-day suspension, for people of a minority religion in their home countries. The people of a minority religion means Christians.
In effect, Trump has barred Muslims from entering the United States, while favoring the entry of Christians.
One of the founding tenets of our country is that religion is our own business and not the governments'. We have freedom of belief. We do not have religious litmus tests for participation in society. Trump's order runs contrary to our founding principles. It violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from preferring or disfavoring any religion. Trump's anti-Muslim policy also violates the Equal Protection Clause, the part of the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law.
Trump's orders are immoral as well as unconstitutional. The people that will be hurt the most are the victims of war. Children injured in Syria's terrible and brutal civil war, who are at imminent risk of being killed.
These executive orders represent a broad overreach by the federal government. The American Civil Liberties Union will be responding swiftly and vehemently to protect the fabric of our democracy.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on Saturday challenging the ban on behalf of two Iraqis who were detained at an airport in New York. While we won the first step of our challenge, the victory only allows those who were in an airport to be released. The ACLU will continue to challenge the executive order so it can be struck down at its core.