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Refugees come from countries that are usually in civil war, through government reform, plagued by famine (outdated) or in a state of war.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

 

 

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

Back to blogging: my future as a writer

Well, the election season is officially over, and I took a break from writing. But after biting the lip these past couple of months I’ve decided this is a great time to pick back up again. Being a journalism student, this is the one of the worst and best times to be in the industry, a paradox that makes my head spin ultimately questioning the worthiness of a future as a reporter.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States, and although I can sit in this coffee shop for hours on end writing and dissecting his policy over the past few weeks, I’ll save my audience the headache for today.

Today is a day for a philosophical discussion about my life and future as a journalist. Some politics, but mostly philosophy.

For those that know me, I try to stay very objective with my line of thought. Naturally as an aspiring journalist, I try my best to not let political bias control or hinder the quality of my writing.

So without any more hesitation, let us begin.

Today, I want to discuss the first amendment, particularly the freedom of speech and the press. I want to discuss the importance of this and dig into some philosophical context to allow my audience to understand why I am hesitant about my future as a writer, predominantly in regards to our newly elected President.

As James Madison once said, if people we angels, then the function of government wouldn’t be necessary. But isn’t that what makes our world so beautiful and fascinating at the same time? Political discrepancy is only a natural part of our political system. Understanding each other’s viewpoints and decision making is how democracy flourishes and thrives. After all, in order to fix an issue, you must know what is wrong in the first place. I will always preach political moderation—equilibrium if you will. I firmly believe that Democracy fails when there is a lack of understanding from both sides of the political spectrum. Political or not, I try everyday to understand people’s needs and ideas, regardless of what I may personally believe.

The constitution is the law of the land and the foundational doctrine that governs our decision making as a united people. Regardless of your political identification, this document in particular must be the foundation of our decision making. Whether or not you believe in original intent or original understanding, the Constitution of this country is still the foundation—the starting point of our lawmaking, ethics, and social structure.

After all, good laws must satisfy three common factors: equality, eradicate pre-established notions, and form a social contract.

Equality: Law must be clear, precise and treat every citizen of equal standard no matter the authority.

Pre-established: No law that is made today can punish an action that was committed yesterday, before it existed.

Social contract: Bad laws can have a chilling effect on speech, limiting people’s access to an equilibrium of ideas and thoughts. Good law is well tailored, and applies to all individuals without hindering freedom.

The pinnacle of American ethics and law, the first amendment does exactly what law should do. It gives people the freedom of expression, an idea that was not the standard of practice around the world when it was written. At only 45 words, the first amendment is the source of our freedom.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So how does this apply to my life as a writer? Well, under the first amendment I am granted the freedom of speech, and the press. There are 16 words that allow me to sit here and write about whatever the hell I want, guaranteeing that I will not be punished for the content I produce, regardless of what you think (as long as I don’t violate libel or slander). 16 words. 16 words gives me the freedom to express myself in the fashion I feel fits suit. Yet within those 16 words, are a billion ideas of what that freedom can mean. There are over 200 years of debate circulating on what those 16 words mean by definition, yet our morale code as a people help govern what those freedoms entail. The words are on paper, but we define by our philosophy what those words mean. Beautiful isn’t it?

The media is here to stay. It is a source for people to gather information and learn about the world around us. Historically, the media has played a huge role in the progression of our country. Providing people with information about British taxation, spreading ideas of revolution and freedom, informing individuals about government policy and war; some form of media is what keeps people in the loop at all times.

This is where I have issues. It pains me and ultimately hurts to see our President say journalist are “among the most dishonest people on Earth,” while stating he is at war with the media.

The President has also restricted certain publications from entering national briefings, an unprecedented restriction that according the historical interpretation to those 16 words, is unconstitutional. Yet the President has chosen to allow a specific handful of publications to report inside the walls of the White House, particularly those who write content supporting the rhetoric and policy of President Trump. This unfair treatment of the press has only fueled his support to follow in his rhetoric, as trust with the media has dwindled.

This is inherently dangerous to those who consume news on a daily basis. Just like our government, the media is not ran by angels. Both biases MUST be shown in the news. It allows educated individuals the opportunity to dissect and absorb all angles in politics. Democracy requires the most attentiveness of its people compared to other forms of government, relying on political attentiveness to move the country forward. Voting is just a small engagement that people must have. Consuming news is part of our democracy, and more importantly the foundation of how people base their political identification.

The President’s suppression and negative rhetoric of the press is not only inherently dangerous to our democracy, but it also moves our nation into a state where media is controlled.

I just came back from Nicaragua, and during my visit I was told I could not write about the politics of the country based on the law. The media, for the most part, is controlled and funded by the government. This allows the majority of the population to only consume news that benefits the impression of the government. Without criticism, the government can continue to influence what people think, often hindering progress and freedom of thought.

No, the United States is most likely not heading into this direction, but it does make me wonder how the suppression of the press by this administration is comparable to other nations that control the media.

It is, constitutionally speaking on behalf of those 16 words, un-American to control what media is allowed to report on the President’s behalf. It not only violates the first amendment, but the fundamental values that makes America so great to begin with.

If you are mad with the media, then as consumer, you should absorb more news from multiple sources, not engage yourself in what makes you happy.

Remember, democracy requires the most attentiveness from its people to thrive, and that includes the consumption of news. Equilibrium. Open your mind, and hear both sides of the argument in order to formulate an objective opinion. Never stop engaging and reading.

So although the words of the President do make me hesitant in my future as a writer, I will allows hold dear those 16 words that help make this country the greatest place on the planet. I will continue to write no matter the circumstance. I will always be critical, no matter who is in power. It is my job to do so. And although I do have my own political opinions, I will always try my best to stay objective. I’m sure there will be things President Trump does that I will agree with, and I’ll write when that opportunity comes. Positive or negative, I will continue to write until the day I die.

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Thank you for reading everyone! I will try my best to post twice a week from here on out.

Until next time, stay engaged.

God bless,

Exsar Misael