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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

February 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Legal battle continues over Muslim ban

Following the announcement of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban Jan. 27, a series of protests against the ban and confusion over the specifics have made the measure a controversial subject.

The executive order bans travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — for a period of 90 days. The ban also prevents refugees from entering the country for 120 days and indefinitely stops the U.S. refugee program.

Trump campaigned on a Muslim ban during his presidential campaign and has justified the order as a measure of national security and protecting the U.S. from potential terrorists. However, countries where known terrorists have carried out attacks on U.S. soil are left out of the ban, such as those who committed the attacks on 9/11.

The Muslim ban has been suspended after a federal judge in Seattle issued a ruling Feb. 3 blocking the executive order. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security suspended any and all action implementing the ban.

Despite the current suspension, many travelers and refugees have been impacted since the ban’s signing. According to the State Department, about 60,000 visas were provisionally revoked since last week.

In the immediate aftermath of the Muslimban signing, many travelers flying into the U.S. from any of the seven identified countries have been detained at airports across the country. Reports from Amsterdam, Cairo, Frankfurt and other cities also showed that many travelers were barred from boarding flights to the U.S. Some individuals with valid green cards were also detained.

News of refugees and foreigners being detained prompted hundreds of people to flood airports in protest of the Muslim ban. Teams of lawyers also congregated at airports, ready to provide legal help to any detained travelers. A strike organized by Yemeni business owners Feb. 2 shuttered a thousand bodegas and businesses across New York City in protest of the ban. During the eight-hour strike, approximately 5,000 people gathered for a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn, New York. During sundown, the crowd quieted as hundreds of men lined up to pray.

Implementation of the Muslim ban prompted action from judges and legal advocacy groups. The American Civil Liberties Union, as well as other groups, filed a lawsuit against Trump challenging the detention of two Iraqi men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi. A ruling of a federal judge in Brooklyn on Jan. 28 then blocked a part of Trump’s order. The ruling only went so far as to prevent the federal government from deporting individuals impacted by the ban.

In response to the Feb. 3 ruling, the Trump administration issued a statement calling the ruling “outrageous” and adding that the Department of Justice would seek an emergency stay of the order to defend the ban. Trump also sent out a series of tweets Feb. 4 expressing his discontent with the ruling, writing that the decision is “ridiculous and will be overturned.” He also tweeted that because of the suspension, “many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country,” even though research shows no person from the seven targeted countries has committed an act of terror on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015.

In response to the suspension of Trump’s Muslim Ban, the Department of Justice filed an emergency motion Feb. 4 to issue a stay on the executive order. The next day, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals denied the request. The justice department responded by filing a new defense of Trump’s Muslim ban with the ninth circuit. A three-judge panel is now weighing the lower court’s decision and is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days. On Feb. 9, the appeals court came to a decision and refused to reinstate Trump’s executive order.

Celisa Calacal can be reached at ccalacal@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @celisa_mia