Trump’s Immigration Order (Updated)
NOTE (added 1/30/17): Please use the comments option here to share (a) relevant links, (b) accounts of those affected, (c) relevant updates about events and activities planned, (d) ideas about what to do, and the like. Thank you.
At the time of this post, over 4,700 academics have signed a petition opposing Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. You can read the text of the order, signed two days ago, here. An annotated version of some excerpts is available here. Last night, in response to a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a federal judge blocked the implementation of some parts of the order.
The stated purpose of Trump’s order is protect citizens of the United States from terrorism. The order includes a prohibition on entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of aliens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. However, according to the Cato Institute, “Between 1975 and 2015, foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen killed exactly zero Americans on U.S. soil.” Additionally, as the Huffington Post reports, “none of the 19 plane hijackers on 9/11 were from any of those seven countries.” Further, “attacks by Muslims accounted for only one third of one percent of all murders in America last year.”
The order also indefinitely suspends the admission into the US of any refugees from Syria, and suspends the admission to the US of refugees from anywhere for 120 days. Upon resumption of refugee admissions, the order directs the relevant agencies to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality,” which will have the effect of prioritizing Christian over Muslim refugees.
This is the “Muslim Ban” that Donald Trump campaigned on, and which even his fellow republicans—including Michael Pence, his vice president—-criticized. (As Rudolph Giuliani said in an interview yesterday: “When [Trump] first announced it he said ‘Muslim Ban.’ He called me up, he said ‘put a commission together, show me the right way to do it, legally.'”)
The ban is affecting people worldwide, including academics, in both personal and professional ways. (I will leave it to those individuals whose stories I’ve heard to share them here in the comments, if they so wish.)
There are questions now being raised about whether the locations of workshops and conferences, including the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association, should be moved to outside the United States.
I encourage readers to share information and thoughts related to the immigration order, and what should be done in regards to it, in the comments.
I also encourage readers to support or donate to those institutions and organizations of civil society (news organizations, advocacy groups) that have helped the United States strive towards realizing its founding ideals. Their work is now of the utmost importance.
UPDATE 1 (1/30/17): Some accounts of students and scholars affected by the executive order at Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
UPDATE 2 (1/30/17): Arash Abizadeh, a political theorist at McGill who was born in Iran, cancels plans to attend workshop at the University of Chicago.
UPDATE 3 (1/30/17): The University of Michigan refuses to disclose students’ immigration information.
UPDATE 4 (1/31/17): “I study philosophy because I think it can help us to know how to keep ourselves, how to keep our commitments to democracy, how to help make the world great. I think it’s unfair for Iranian students to lose our dreams, our hope, and our admissions…” Shadi Heidarifar, a student admitted to NYU’s gradauate program in philosophy, who may not be able to enroll because of Trump’s executive order on the subject.
“There are questions now being raised about whether the locations of workshops and conferences, including the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association, should be moved to outside the United States.”
While there are clearly many positive aspects to this suggestion, I would raise the caution that some foreign nationals currently working in the US might as a result have difficulty attending, as I am given to understand that they might then be unable to return, even with a valid visa. Just something to think about, though needless to say it’s probable that the pros outweigh the cons.Report
I posted these remarks on Facebook earlier today:
“Lots of philosophers and others on here and in other fora are making claims about Trump’s “mental stability,” “fitness,” and “sanity.” These appeals to (so-called) mental illness and cognitive disability are ableist, serving to further stigmatize and marginalize sectors of the population that already experience grievous socially-imposed disadvantage. If you are engaging in this rhetorical strategy, please stop. Your actions are having unintended detrimental consequences for many people who will be gravely affected by Trump’s policies. By pathologizing Trump, you are vilifying people who are largely hidden from the mainstream due to poverty, ableism, racism, and social indifference. Furthermore, this rhetorical strategy also covers over the fact that many sectors of the American public want Trump to do exactly what Trump is doing. By pathologizing Trump, you individualize zenophobia, ableism, racism, sexism, and elitism. Pathologizing Trump is counterproductive.”Report
As someone who has suffered from mental illness for most of my life, I want to say that I absolutely do not share Prof. Tremain’s sentiment. Eminently qualified professionals have questioned whether Trump is mentally healthy, and any layperson can see that they have excellent evidence for doing so. There is also more than adequate reason to expect that someone who has the specific conditions they suggest Trump may suffer from, and who occupies the specific position that Trump holds, yet who receives no treatment of any sort, will be liable to do enormously destructive things. I absolutely do not question anyone’s standing to remark upon these facts; I wish more people would. As for the notion that referring to Trump as insane will contribute to the many serious disadvantages that the mentally ill do indeed face — I will believe this causal claim when I see the proof. It bears mentioning that I have never come across any such proof myself, whether through the medium of personal experience, which some seem to believe can inform me of the structural burdens that my group faces, or in the form of the sorts of statistical facts ascertained by means of rigorous work in the social sciences that I would consider necessary for properly supporting such an assertion.Report
I am diagnosed with a mental illness and a POC, and I am in no way offended by any such remarks. I am also baffled about how challenging Trump’s mental stability could possibly lead to stigmatization. It’s a pretty big jump from “Trump is unstable” to “mentally ill people are villains.” Also, it is surely possible to both say Trump is mentally unfit to be President and maintain that large sectors of Americans want a mentally unfit person to be president, and that is bad.Report
As someone living with a mental illness and a neurological disorder, I just wanted to echo the two responses here. Also, I really wish ST would stop speaking as though she spoke on behalf of the entire disabled community (and as though there is some monolithic disabled community). I suspect that the majority of people who are dealing with mental illness don’t share her sentiments, and I’m frankly tired of her acting as though those sentiments are incontrovertible facts that no one is allowed to question. (And acting as though questioning them is morally outrageous.)Report
Hi Ich, Student, and some person or other,
I would be happy to interview you for Dialogues on Disability, the series of interviews that I’m conducting with disabled philosophers (if you are philosophers) and post to the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog on the third Wednesday of each month. If you are interested in doing an interview, please write me at [email protected] or [email protected].
If you are unfamiliar with the series, you will find all of the interviews I’ve done so far archived here: http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/dialogues-on-disability/Report
An objection to Trump BEING PRESIDENT based on his lack of mental stability is not bigoted, in the slightest, no more than it is bigoted to suggest that Stephen Hawking is unqualified to pitch for the Yankees.
I can, of course, understand how the words you mention are often tossed around pejoratively, and I agree that more sensitivity is often needed.Report
No further comments on this subthread about ablelist language, please.Report
New York University has pioneered a concept of global education under which a university is a “global network”, the fundamental principle of which is that there is network of sites in all parts of the globe around which students and faculty are fully free to circulate. The three current campus portals are in New York, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, with other sites in several continents. The President of NYU, Andrew Hamilton, has said today in a letter to all members of NYU that “As a scientist who studied and worked in four countries before becoming a citizen of the U.S., I know how important it is to be able to move across borders in peaceful pursuit of one’s scholarship.” Academics such as myself chose to join NYU from many countries precisely because of its bold commitment to this principle. Trump’s executive order undermines all this, because although the UAE, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, curiously does not (yet) fall under its purview, many students, staff and faculty who are at NYU Abu Dhabi cannot, as of now, circulate freely within the NYU global network and so cannot participate in the forms of academic exchange that define NYU as a university.Report
Since I am an admirer of his academic work, it pains me to report that Jonardon Ganeri’s remarks strike me as oddly inward and self-congratulatory. Trump’s policies undermine so much more of value than NYU’s junkets for its faculty. Certainly we should point out harms to our particular institutions and especially to our colleagues from or based in the targeted countries. But it trivializes real harms being done to focus on movement within NYU’s “global network”, which is far from an ideal to be emulated.
I think I am not alone in thinking of NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus not as some miracle of global education to be cherished but rather as a project completely tainted by the harsh conditions faced by many of the migrant workers who physically built it, an absolutely predictable result given the way the UAE works. Equally troubling, though more indirect, is the fact that the NYU brand provides continued legitimacy to the repressive regime which made that exploitation possible. Indeed, one of NYU’s own professors was barred from entering the UAE for criticizing labor conditions there – so much for freedom to circulate. In that light, it is striking that the third NYU campus is located in Shanghai.
The free movement of scholars is absolutely an important principle, and we must find ways to support the many academics and students whose lives have been disrupted by these harsh restrictions. I find that focusing on the peculiar configuration of one extremely wealthy institution, whose members have great privilege by virtue of their association with it, is, in this dire context, somewhat unhelpful. The OP called for personal stories. I’d like to hear from some Iranian or Sudanese or Syrian or Yemeni or Somali or Iraqi or Libyan academics.
 As documented by the New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/19/nyregion/workers-at-nyus-abu-dhabi-site-face-harsh-conditions.html & http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/nyregion/nyu-labor-rules-failed-to-protect-10000-workers-in-abu-dhabi.html
Please join the petition from academics opposing the ban: https://notoimmigrationban.com/Report
The petition is great, but it’s just a first step in protecting the academic community from this order & related policies. In anticipation of potential future Trump steps, pressure deans/admin to refuse to enforce any attempts by trump to deport those in their university. And pressure deans/admin to refuse to release information about DACA & other vulnerable students & faculty.
And, if relevant, consider building something into your courses about the ethics of turning away refugees &/or of forcing someone to emigrate out of a country where they were raised. Other possible topics might be the ethics of prejudice & profiling, or the question of how a nation should respond when democratically elected leaders ignore the law (there are reports that the requirements of the federal judge’s stay have in many cases gone ignored, evidence that Trump is ignoring the judiciary or else is not properly ensuring that his people are respecting the judiciary).Report
This is pretty unoriginal, but you should call your congressperson and report your concern. Members of congress often ignore emails, but they take note of phone calls. Here is how you find the right number:
Congress can override this executive order via legislation. That’s unlikely to happen, but it’s not unheard of. More importantly, congress has indirect influence over immigration. If you read the research on public opinion and immigration policy in the US, you’ll find that individual senators and congresspeople can exert influence over immigration policy by pressuring immigration agencies to make exceptions, refrain from enforcing the law, etc, and they are sometimes effective. Here’s a good book on the topic: http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521092906
I think this will be struck down in the courts–among other things, it appears to violate the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 that abolished discrimination based on national origin. But that may take some time and it is possible that congress can pressure the president to rescind more of the executive order in the meantime.Report
On the side of positive proposals for action, Elon Musk, a member of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, has asked for input on alternative approaches toward immigration. He’s evidently looking to build a consensus and present it to Trump. Might be worth thinking about for those with the inclination and wherewithal; I gather it would make more of an impact than signing a petition (which is no doubt supremely laudable in its own right).
And for those who don’t know–Musk is basically our Tony Stark. He started an electric car company in the late 90s and sold a little roadster. That revenue was used to support more ambitious automotive projects, and Tesla now has three all-electric models that cover a huge swath of the American car market: midsize and fullsize luxury, and an SUV. He’s also planning a high-speed rail system for the southwestern United States. And the guy has been building a re-usable rocket for delivering a payload to the upper atmosphere for, eventually, a manned expedition to Mars. I gather the guy is serious when he says he’s open to input and is interested in building a consensus on immigration to present to Trump. One might think there’d be some people in philosophy who could productively contribute to that consensus.Report
Personally, I’m much more of a Steve Rogers fan myself.Report
If you’re interested in a different take, see the posts I wrote on the subject on my blog (http://necpluribusimpar.net/executive-order-immigration/, http://necpluribusimpar.net/trumps-executive-order/ and http://necpluribusimpar.net/meanwhile-in-yemen/), which I just saw Justin was kind enough to put in his Heap of Links.Report
“First, judging by what I read on my feed, the vast majority of people who talk about this haven’t actually read Trump’s executive order. The New York Times published the full text on its website, so if people want to talk about it, they should start by reading it, especially since it’s not that long. If they had done that, they would know that, despite what a lot of people are saying, it does not ban muslims from entering the US. It just temporarily bans entry into the US for anyone, with a few exceptions I already mentioned above, who is a citizen of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen. Now, these countries are majority-muslim, but there are plenty of majority-muslim countries that aren’t concerned by the order. ”
This seems to me like an overly narrow view of the law (or perhaps an overly literal interpretation of the statements you object to). Here’s an analogy. Literacy tests in the US didn’t prevent all blacks from voting and they did prevent some whites from voting. Nonetheless, their function was to prevent blacks from voting. Trump’s executive order similarly functions to drastically reduce Muslim entry into the country in a way that makes statements of the kind you’re objecting to essentially correct. I’m not even sure whether Trump is now denying that this is the point of the order (his surrogates seem to be), but he was pretty clear about it on the campaign trail, and we have the testimony of his inner circle that this order is essentially the “Muslim ban” Trump spoke of:
“It was more than a year ago that Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” for instance. (Friday’s executive order stops short of that, but Trump allies such as Rudy Giuliani have spoken of the order as a legal workaround that seeks to accomplish the same objectives as a Muslim immigration ban.)”
If this is a “legal workaround that seeks to accomplish the same objectives as a Muslim immigration ban”, then it’s doing a pretty terrible job at it, because it’s highly unlikely that this order will “drastically reduce Muslim entry into the country”. The seven countries affected by Trump’s executive order contains less than 15% of the world muslim population. So even assuming that muslims from those countries were 3 times more likely than muslims from other countries to emigrate to the US before this order, which I have no reason to believe is remotely close to the truth, it would still not affect the majority of muslims who come to the US every year. There are plenty of good reasons to oppose this decision, but it’s not a muslim ban, no matter how much you spin it. That it’s a way for Trump to make it look like he is delivering on his promise to create a muslim ban for his supporters, I have no doubt, but that doesn’t mean it’s a muslim ban.Report
I agree that the order does fall far short of Trump’s stated aim of a complete ban. This is how things tend to be when ideals confront legal and political realities. And so ‘ban’ might be the wrong word for this order considered in isolation. But I’m not convinced by the numbers you allude to that this is for political consumption as opposed to being a legal workaround. First, consider these remarks by Priebus in light of Trump’s promise to single out immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia:
Second, I think a look at where Muslims in the US are coming from suggests that the restrictions on people coming from the seven countries mentioned in the order, if continued long enough, would in fact drastically reduce Muslim entry. (And if the “extreme vetting” succeeds in reducing Pakistani, Afghani, and Saudi Arabian immigration, the reduction will be even greater.)
Finally, all of this has to be viewed in the light of Breitbart’s editorial stance that the American Muslim population has surged to dangerous levels during Obama’s presidency. The causal relationship between Breitbart’s stance on Muslim immigration and the executive order is quite clear; to me, it would be more surprising if it didn’t obtain.
I think I may be straying from (a)-(d) in Justin’s update, so I’ll make that my last word in our discussion, Phillippe, except to say that I enjoyed your blog posts (and, for what it’s worth, agreed with several of your points).Report
A muslim ban, according to the way this expression has been used for months, would deny entry into the US to any foreigner who is a muslim. Again, Trump’s executive order simply isn’t a muslim ban, I don’t see how anyone could deny this in good faith and, indeed, I take it that you essentially concede the point and want to argue for a weaker claim. The article you mention in your second point only gives the number of green cards by country, but Trump’s order doesn’t just concern people who have a green card, it affects anyone who would like to come to the US even just for a temporary visit. (Indeed, if you ask me, that’s one of the things which are objectionable about it.) According to the numbers in this article, people from the countries affected by Trump’s order made up approximately 34% of the muslims who received a green card between 2009 and 2014. I have no idea, however, what the proportion is for the total number of muslims who came to the US during that period, as permanent residents or otherwise. It might be more or it might be less, but in any case, Trump’s executive order still isn’t a muslim ban. Anyway, I hadn’t seen Justin’s update, so I think you’re right that we should leave it at that. Thanks for the nice words about my blog. I will probably have more to say later about this, but I will do so on my blog, so you’re more than welcome to share your criticisms over there when I do.Report
There is a useful discussion of the issue here:
The take-away, which seems in general to be well-supported, is that Trump (and Bannon) wanted a full ban on Muslims (as Trump had called for) but soon realized that this wasn’t possible. The current process was put in place to get as much as was possible without being both explicitly illegal and to be at least not 100% obviously indefensible. (This is, I suppose, about 98% indefensible, and so a slight improvement.) There is further speculation at other sources about whether some countries that should have been included based on the public justification (Saudi Arabia, etc.) were not because of Trump business ties. I am slightly hesitant to speculate on that, but I think that the idea that this wasn’t aimed at Muslims really doesn’t cut water.
(I might add that the suggestion to read the order, while perhaps not awful, is unlikely to be especially useful. I am a lawyer, as well as a philosopher, who specializes in immigration law and administrative law, and it is a mess, even by the normal low standards of clarity of these areas of law. These things are often hard for people without training to understand in any case, but this one is really poorly drafted. An Immigration professors’ list serve that I am a member of has spent several days trying to figure out exactly what it is supposed to mean in many key areas, and the members are still not sure. It is clear that this wasn’t carefully drafted by people trying to make sure not to do damage to people unnecessarily.)Report
I’m not a lawyer, which is why I didn’t comment on the legality of that order, but one doesn’t need to be a lawyer to know, upon reading it, that it’s not a muslim ban, and that’s all I said on this aspect of the controversy. Again, this is indisputable, so people can’t say that it’s a muslim ban and, when others point out that it’s not, defend this assertion by arguing for another, related but different claim.Report
Although I am a US citizen working abroad, such that Trump’s executive order does not threaten my residency or overall security, I would like to note that the ban is already affecting the ability of academics to successfully collaborate. I was supposed to present at an upcoming conference in Qom (Iran) as part of an ongoing Christian-Muslim-Jewish project on virtue and sincerity in early March. It is now unlikely that I will receive a visa from Iran to travel there, given their response to the US ban on their citizens. (Though, interestingly, the Iranian response explicitly distinguishes between the citizens of the US and its governmental policies and has said it will respect all visas already issued to US citizens – a stark contrast to the Trump administration’s edict. See: https://goo.gl/6VvV5s.)
Now it is lucky that this collaboration is primarily a German-Iranian endeavor, so the conference will go forward with or without me, and the collaboration will continue. However, I am prevented from visiting and working with several colleagues with whom I maintain close academic ties. Further, it is striking that a collaboration that aims at promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and understanding is threatened by these policies. Further, were such a conference planned for the US anytime soon, it is clear that it would not be able to proceed – at least not with the physical presence of the persons involved, as many of them would not be granted visas.
That brings me to my more constructive point: For those engaged in research with scholars now potentially unable to travel to/from the US, we need to implement new strategies to continue to engage in open academic dialogue. I point you to a recent update to the CFP for a conference in the UK on “Implicit Religion” (http://www.implicitreligion.co.uk/). The organizers explicitly encourage those impacted by the ban who are afraid to leave the US to submit abstracts regardless and promise to set up video conferencing and make the conference available to a digital audience. I suggest that we follow suit and brainstorm about ways to make conferences more accessible to those who cannot travel. (This is something that would benefit the profession anyway.) Video conferencing and online workshops might be a start. Perhaps an entire video-conferenced session at the APA centered on issues surrounding philosophy as an international enterprise, made up predominantly of scholars explicitly affected by the ban?Report
The APA should issue a statement calling for the executive order to me rescinded. The American Academy of Religion has already done so: https://www.aarweb.org/about/board-statement-on-us-executive-order-%E2%80%9Cprotecting-the-nation-from-foreign-terrorist-entry-intoReport
I applaud the petition, but as philosophers, our duty goes much further. We need to be talking about Trump’s immigration order and related issues in public venues, and we must be talking to audiences who don’t all already oppose Donald Trump. As AnalyticPhilosophyCANBerelevant points out above, we can encourage our students to consider such issues in class. However, we much also do a much better job of publishing work to be read by the public, instead of just publishing for one another.Report
One important thing that political/normative philosophers can and should be doing is explaining to our students how the structure of our federal government is intended to work. I teach a class on cosmopolitanism and this week we are reading Kant’s “Perpetual Peace.” This doesn’t seem like a perfect context to discuss the current EO, but actually presents itself as one. We discussed whether hospitality and non-refoulement are the extent of our moral duties to non-citizens who present themselves for admission to the U.S.. But mostly, we spent time talking about what makes a government republican according to Kant. This presents an excellent opportunity to discuss the separation of powers and checks and balances. Many of my students do not understand how the U.S. government is structured (I’m talking, like, that there are three branches with distinct powers, privileges, and protections) or what constitutions are, so I took the opportunity to explain it to them. Students had *a lot* of questions about what, for example, a constitutional crisis was, what could be done about an EO, how EOs work, what they could do if they opposed it, if the EO violates international law, etc. I think we, as professionals, often overestimate the knowledge that students have regarding mere facts in the world. While helping my students think critically is my main goal, that just doesn’t work unless they understand the facts on the ground that they are supposed to think critically about. I encourage all philosophers (even those wary of getting political in the classroom) to simply inform their students of the facts at issue in situations like this. My students were super curious once I broached the topic and were far more engaged than usual. Importantly, this doesn’t even require stating your position on the EO or stating whether you think the federal government is slipping into authoritarianism. This is important for me, I think especially, because as I was talking I was looking at a number of laptops with “Make America Great Again!” and “Trump/Pence 2016” stickers on them.Report