Trumps new immigration ban: a more moderate approach

On Monday morning President Trump released the new and reformed version of his January immigration ban, a controversial executive action that received major criticism both domestically and abroad.

With much surprise, the new reform is much more subtle in its intent clearly showing the power of the people’s outcry against the original version. But, before we get into what the new order says, I would like to start by informing my audience the power of the people is still within our grasps.

The absolute backlash of the last order clearly shook A LOT of heads around the world, which included republicans skeptical of the order. On my last post about the immigration ban, I was very stern in my criticism. I stand by what I stated before: the immigration was doomed from the start by its poor execution. It was unclear, lazy in its approach, and more so, caused confusion within the Department of Homeland Security about how to execute the order.  Legal residents, green card holders and Visa holders were barred from entering the U.S., a highly illegal action made by the administration.

Let us all be clear with something. This is NOT a “travel” ban, but a ban on immigration.

There is a strict distinction between an immigrant, a traveler and a refugee and the rhetoric needs to change as a lot of these terms are thrown together interchangeably. For starters, immigrates go through a strict vetting process which can take over two years to complete. Immigrants also usually come from countries where the government is functional, but the people choose to leave by choice (most of the time). This is important, because when a country has a substantially functional government, it is easy to compile information of the people seeking immigration status as records are easier to come across. This is exactly why am I so against this “extreme vetting” that the president so eagerly wishes to adopt. The vetting process is already tedious and timely. In the post-911 era the United States government has been extremely successful in combatting foreign terrorism. We have the best security in the world, hands down. “Extreme vetting” is a paradox in itself as the current measures are already extreme in a lot of senses.

Refugees come from countries that are usually in civil war, through government reform, plagued by famine (outdated) or in a state of war. Syria is a country with a high number of refugees because the government lost control of its own land against ISIS, to keep it simplified. Since the government of Syria is barely a functional entity, what vetting process is there to execute? These people have no records, no tracking, and can pose a threat to national security. In most cases, it is hard to track and monitor refugees’ behaviors simply by the nature of the native state.

This is why I am okay with not letting in refugees into the United States. Europe is proof that these kinds of integration laws don’t work when the people are so culturally different. We don’t need that problem here in the United States. Notice how I said I was “okay” with not letting refugees in. It’s painful to see what these people have to go through, but until there is a way to apply a vetting process to these refugees, it is in the best interest of the United States to keep them out.

Immigrants, however, do go through the vetting process, and for me, if they pass the requirements, should be allowed to enter the United States. We need immigrants. This is a land of immigrant and it will forever be that way. Refugees are NOT immigrants, so people need to be a little more careful with the rhetoric.

Okay, lets get into it:

The New Order:

Interesting enough, the new executive order, which will go into effect on March 16, is more moderate in its approach. For starters, there are now six countries on the ban, all of the same from last time excluding Iraq.

Looking into the text, the Trump administration is allowing previously accepted refugees to enter the United States, but is limiting the number to 50,000. To me, that number is very high, but to a lot of people on the left, this should be calming to you. When 50,000 refugees will be allowed to enter, it’s hard to argue that the United States isn’t trying its best to meet in the middle of the issue.

The new order doesn’t give priority to religious minorities (mainly Christians), a highly controversial topic of discussion on the last order.

The new order also lifts the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees to 120 days along with the rest of the countries.

Further information will be presented as this story progresses, but until now, this is all we know.

Concluding thoughts:

The administration clearly put more thought into complying the new order together looking at a more moderate approach to the issue.

Still, it only feels the current revision is a test to what the order should have been from the start, maybe saving the administration some headache from the backlash that followed. At the end of the day, it doesn’t change what was already done, and the pain still lingers for a lot of people. But I firmly believe it goes to show that Trump cannot simply do as he pleases. This reform is proof of a more tempered approach, something I hope everyone could appreciate.

Finally, the ban is still controversial in its own right, and although I’m not fully sold on the intent considering the president has stated he wants a ban on “Muslims,” this is exponentially better than what we got in January.

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Sorry about the lack of content lately…senior year is kicking my ass. I’ll do a follow up when more information is presented.

 

-Exsar Misael

 

 

McMaster is a hopeful replacement for Flynn

 

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Michael Flynn before resignation. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo (EPA)

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, the nation eagerly waited on who Donald Trump would pick as the next National Security Advisor. And with much surprise, the new pick may be of some importance for the Trump administration. Army Lieutenant General H.R McMaster is a man whose experience in the armed forces has given him a different perspective on the “war on Islam”—rhetoric chief strategy advisor Steve Bannon so eagerly chooses to use.

For the new pick, there are two major takeaways that the American people should be aware of: McMaster’s experience and how that molds his potential world views, and his take on Russia-American relations.

Middle East:

McMaster’s experience in the Middle East during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Commander of the Army shape the way he views Islam as a whole. In 2005, in an attempt to retake the city of Tal Afar which bordered Iraq and Syria, McMaster had his troops dress in traditional Arab clothing to blend in to the environment. He also taught his soldiers how to walk into a home and determine if the residents were Sunni or Shiite Muslims. McMaster is also on record for commanding his troops not to refer to locals as “hajjis”, a racial slur used to identify Muslims who take pilgrim to Mecca, showing his respect to the people and culture.

This firsthand understanding, respect and strategy McMaster has displayed in his deployment shows the kind of mind he has: one that will not plague an entire religion for the fault of few, an issue a lot of members of Trump’s cabinet cannot seem to distinguish. Furthermore, McMaster does not have a political mind. He is military. And that experience gives this administration a head who can actually speak on behalf of terrorism from a personal level and one that isn’t convoluted by an unrealistic vision of the enemy we are fighting. McMaster understands and fundamentally believes that plaguing an entire religion on the faults of a few can actually be detrimental to foreign relations. McMaster is on record for stating that Trump’s rhetoric regarding “bombing Islam into oblivion” only fuels fire for terrorism. This rhetoric also further divides the American people from understanding the culture and religion of these people.

For the future on combatting terrorism, McMaster will act as the middle ground for a lot of key issues, socially and strategically.

Russia:

Unlike President Trump and Flynn, McMaster is a Russia skeptic, noting the country is not an ally of the United States but an adversary. Last May, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, McMaster cited Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine as evidence of a broader effort “to collapse the post-World War Two, certainly the post-Cold War, security, economic, and political order in Europe and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.” His skepticism on Russia is very outspoken, and reflective of a more “realism” world view of international relations. McMaster’s military experience probably has something to do with his cynical view of the world, and for the United States, this might be the best man for the job in an administration clouded with Russian influence.

Conclusion (opinion):

I actually like this pick by the Trump administration. McMaster is a man of integrity, respect, mutual understanding, and of course his military experience allows for a more realistic approach on how to combat Islamic terrorism (hopefully). I don’t know him personally, so although it is hard for me to speak on his personal traits, on the surface level, he seems to have a lot of credible ideas and philosophy. His respect and understanding of the culture abroad, to me, gives him a lot of credibility. More so, he knows HOW the Middle East operates—culturally and in terms of terrorism.

For Russia, I am on the boat that our Western neighbor deserves more punishment for their actions in Crimea. Naturally, my bias against Russia, which has been stated in previous posts, draws me to McMaster’s words and skepticism. I do not think Russia is an ally. Nor is the country’s involvement in our political system something that should go without notice or action in the future.

Everything I’ve read on McMaster has actually made me more relaxed about the administration’s inner-circle, as I hope he can be the voice against the ideology of President Trump and Stephen Bannon. Let us not forget how Bannon has stated that “every President needs his war.” This rhetoric is inherently dangerous considering the amount of turmoil in the international world, and I hope McMaster’s military experience will help level this thinking.

 

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McMaster and Trump. Photo: CNN

Whether McMaster becomes a puppet for Trump will come in time, but let us not forget Flynn was part of the inner-circle of decision making in the early weeks of administration. I just hope McMaster will also be part of that tight-knit group in order to help moderate some of the discussion happening inside the Oval Office.

I am hopeful, for once.

Best,

-Exsar Misael

Russia has too much influence in American politics

Russia has been in the headlines a lot recently, causing a lot of tension and confusion with the American people on what exactly is going on. Today, I hope to remedy some of those concerns or questions about Russia-American relations.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the election had repeated phone calls with members of Russian intelligence officers. The article immediately grabbed national attention. According to the Times, phone records and intercepted calls by four current and former American officials released the information to the publication.

This all coming after U.S. intelligence agencies stated that Russia leaked democratic emails to sway the election in Trump’s favor. Sergei A. Ryabov, deputy Russian foreign minister, is on record stating that there were contacts between the two parties during the election.

These actions from the Trump campaign are in direct violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which I feel will come into question if more information about Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics continues.

Republican South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham, a critic of Trump’s administration, said on Good Morning America “if it’s true, it is very, very disturbing to me. And Russia needs to pay a price when it comes to interfering in our democracy and other democracies, and any Trump person who was working with the Russians in an unacceptable way also needs to pay a price.”

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So, as the American people, where should you have a problem with these interferences in our democracy (if they are true)? The answer lies in the hypocrisy of the administration in power.

On March 18, 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a region that belonged to the Ukraine. To Trump’s backing, I do agree that President Obama was extremely weak regarding the annexation of the territory. The act was a violation of international law under the Agreement on Establishing the Commonwealth of Independent Nations in 1991, and should have been dealt with in such manner. Sanctions should have been the least form of punishment for the Russian’s actions. Vladimir Putin was a former KGB (Soviet Union committee for state security) officer for 16 years and is on the record for stating he wants to move Russia in a more Soviet-esque state.

The Russian President, quite frankly, is embarrassed. And who could you blame him? His great country was stripped of their world dominance when the Soviet Union collapsed, allowing the United States to take control of global influence. The annexation of Crimea is the first step of what may come in the future. Russia seeks power and dominance, and as an American, that makes me fearful. The ideals of the Soviet Union that are still embedded in the mind of Putin is not what the world needs in terms of political ideology.

President Trump was rightfully a critic of the Obama administrations handling of the Crimea region, but ironically, his campaign is being accused of having close administrative discussion during the election. All of which came after several intelligence agencies stated Russia was responsible for leaked democratic emails during the election.

Senator Graham is rightfully critical. It is disheartening to even try and comprehend that the current President is in talks with Russia after the annexation of Crimea. We are not friends with Russia. Our governments are different in so many ways and historically represent different ideology.

What makes the situation a little stickier is Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor after he had discussion with the Russian ambassador on sanctions before Trump even took office.  Flynn, who resigned Monday, was misleading the Vice-President on his discussion with the ambassador. This becomes problematic as even people within the president’s inner-circle are hiding and misleading information about Russian politicians.

Regardless of your political ideology, Russia is way too involved in our political system, and they are getting away with it. I am all for improving relations with Russia, but the country should respect those boundaries set by the international community. They are making the United States look weak, and for reasons we can’t explain, Trump and his administration are at the forefront of the controversy.

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Trump-Putin phone call in the Oval Office. Flynn (right) before his resignation.

Sanctions should be set in place by this administration after Russia’s actions during the election. Interfering in our politics, regardless of who was at service, needs to be punished. It makes our nation look weak at the hand of Russian influence. China in the South China Sea, and now Russia’s interference will make for great foreign policy discussions in the near future. I am eager to see what new information is released on these matters.

Let me know what you all think! Hope you enjoyed the read.

Best,

Exsar Misael

Morning briefing: Immigration Ban has been lifted

After over 48 hours of patiently waiting, the world finally has an answer to the recent controversy surrounding President Trump’s immigration ban. On Feb. 9, the 9th circuit court of the United States refused to reinstate President Trump’s Immigration ban, marking the president’s first big legal loss since taking office.

Today I want to focus on two key aspects of the discussion:

  1. What did the court decide and what was the legal question at stake? What comes next after the decision?
  2. Where did Trump go wrong? (Opinion)

The United States is split into 13 circuit courts. Each circuit has a few states that belong to its jurisdiction.  More importantly, if a state in a particular circuit rules in a specific fashion, then all the other states in the circuit must follow the precedent of that state. Confusing? Let me break it down.

For example, the 5th circuit court of the United States comprises of Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. If the circuit court of Texas decided to rule against state funded abortions, then the other two states in the circuit will follow suit.

The 9th circuit court includes the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho Montana, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Simply put, the decision from the 9th circuit court is not a surprise by any stretch of the imagination. The states represented in the 9th circuit are by in large, liberal. Interesting enough, the three judges who ruled on the immigration policy all ruled unanimously against the ban, 3-0. A 29-page concurring opinion basically stated that the immigration ban was a violation of fundamental American constitutional values. The Washington Post reported that the 9th circuit court ruled that the executive order harms international business as it prevents students, faculty, and overseas employees of American companies from traveling abroad in fear of being stranded in another country.

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So what is the legal question being asked? Well, we don’t necessarily know. The court has stated that it goes against American constitutional values, and that’s about it.

During the first week of the executive order, green card and Visa holders were restricted from entering the United States, which is illegal. However, the Trump administration has since reversed that rule, one again permitting these people to enter.

Since the Supreme Court usually deals with pressing issues of national security, it is highly probable that the constitutionality of this order will be taken to the highest court in the nation. But until then, we patiently wait. As of now, the immigration ban has been halted in compliance with the decision of the 9th circuit court.

Furthermore, I feel this executive order was doomed from the start not because of its intent but because of the execution.

Like I stated in my last post, I am in no way against immigration bans that are done correctly. Unfortunately for the president, this executive action was amateur at best in its execution.

First, the president is on the record for stating he wanted a ban on Muslims from entering the United States during the campaign season. This was his first mistake. Although the executive order claims it to be an “immigration ban” it is hard not to see past the lines of those words considering the rhetoric. The United States is a country founded by people seeking religious freedom. This is a nation of diversity and something I deeply take pride in. The president’s words are not only contradictory to what makes this country great, but ultimately disrespect fundamental American values—such values which are written in the doctrine of our founding, the constitution.

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Photo by Alyssa Schukar, The New York Times  

The next mistake came with the actual signing of the executive order. Countless stories have surfaced the internet of constant confusion from different government agencies on how to properly execute the ban. During the first couple of days, the Department of Homeland Security was not properly informed on who exactly was allowed into the country, causing major confusion at airports around the world. People who legally had the right to enter the United States were being detained for extended periods of time without any explanation to why they couldn’t enter. For lack of a better word, the execution of the ban was messy.

So now we wait. This case is far from over and will most likely be presented to the Supreme Court very soon. As of now, the Supreme Court is split evenly 4/4. This is important because if the court cannot come to a consensus and the vote is evenly split, then the decision made by the 9th circuit court WILL STAND AS LAW marking the president’s first major defeat in office. Obviously that may be jumping the gun a little, but it is interesting to think about all outcomes of the situation.

Regardless of how you feel about the ban, this case could set precedent to how the judiciary reacts to Trump’s executive decisions. Only time will tell….

These past two weeks have been quite hectic, but I hope I can help out with any questions anyone may have.

Until next time, stay engaged!

-Exsar Misael

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