On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that indefinitely suspends the settlement of Syrian refugees and temporarily bans people from seven predominantly Muslim states from entering the U.S. – with an exception made for persecuted minorities like Christians.

The malice in the president’s order is perhaps surpassed only by its ineptitude.

  • The executive order blocks all immigrants and visa holders who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
  • It was not reviewed by any competent counsel.

The Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Department of Defense did not review the document, and the National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it.

Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies actually tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump live on television signing the order.

Department of Justice said “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel (who normally reviews every executive order) had been given Trump’s executive orders to review.

Essentially, it looks as though the order was not reviewed by anyone competent.

A quick history:

In December 2015, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. This was in response to the San Bernardino attacks, which were carried out by U.S. citizen and a permanent resident of Pakistan (not on the list).

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and floundering Trump fan came out and said on Fox News that Trump called him a few weeks ago and said “I want to do a Muslim ban, how do I do it legally?” The White House has repeatedly come out and said that this is not a Muslim ban, nor is it Muslim related. Giuliani has unwittingly now given all the lawyers who are claiming that it is in fact a Muslim ban plenty of ammo.

Steve Bannon and Steven Miller (a Jeff Sessions aide) wrote the executive order. No one in the government was notified until shortly before Trump made it final, and there were no consultations with Congress. The White House said that it was for “national security reasons” that they didn’t inform anyone was because all of the ‘terrorists’ could have come into the country early (leapfrogging that 15 month vetting process of course).

The Department of Homeland Security said it was not legal for the ban to be applied to people with lawful permanent residence – otherwise known as Green Card holders – but then Bannon and Miller overruled them.

Since the ban, Attorney General Sally Yates came out and questioned the legality of Trump’s executive order. Trump’s reponse hearkened back to his his old days on The Apprentice:

Why this was a terrible idea

There are so many reasons, but to start with – members of ISIS are celebrating this on social media. They are calling it a ‘blessed ban’ and are even comparing the propaganda value of this to the Iraq war.

Also, they are making Al-Qaeda’s leading propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki, and his prediction come true – that the US would turn against it’s Muslim citizens. “It can play into their propaganda, to make it clear for anyone who could be in doubt, that it’s a war on Islam and all Muslims,” said former jihadi Abu Abdullah.

Various jihadists through social media have said the executive action revealed America’s “hatred towards Muslims,” according to US-based SITE monitoring service. A pro-ISIS account on Telegram – an encrypted app favoured by the militant group – praised Trump as “the best caller to Islam,” signalling the President’s ban would attract new believers.

“When US President Donald Trump says ‘We don’t want them here’ and bans the Muslim immigrants from Muslim countries, there is one thing that comes to our mind,” stated one account on Facebook.

It’s not just ISIS that might capitalize on the ban, al Qaeda is likely to use it, too.

“By banning Muslims, lumping them with radical Islamism, Donald Trump provides ammunition and motivation for al Qaeda and ISIS,” said Fawaz Gerges, chairman of contemporary Middle East studies at the London School of Economics and author of “ISIS: A History.”

Gerges said that to group more than 1 billion Muslims with Islamic extremists is “foolishly counterproductive” to the battle against ISIS. “The policy can easily be interpreted, and is being interpreted, as a ban against Muslims. If you are serious about defeating ISIS, the last thing you want to do is portray the fight as Islam vs. the West.”

Ineffective policy

The EO doesn’t make sense from a policy level either. The White House cites that the ban is to prevent refugees like the ones who committed the 9/11 attacks – although none of those countries are listed, and there have been no attacks on US soil by anyone from one of these countries.

Homegrown extremists are the real threat, and those people are going to be further isolated and driven away from the communities they need to assimilate with, adding more fuel to the fires.

Legally this will create a target-rich environment for litigation against the policies. The ACLU has already succeeded in petitioning a federal court for a class-wide stay of deportations of immigrants and refugees trapped in airports by Trump’s order.

Clint Watts, a former FBI counterterrorism special agent and US Army infantry officer, said, “This isn’t an isolated policy. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Calls for bringing back torture. All of these in combination amplify the rhetoric,” Watts said. “Not only are we increasing recruitment, but we’re making it harder for our partners around the world to fight with us against terrorism.”

With all this, it should be noted that vastly more people are killed in the US by toddler attacks than they are by refugees and terrorists.

Diplomatic backlash

Because the executive order applies to dual nationals, it appears as though entry will be barred to hundreds of thousands of citizens of the UK and Canada, including a British MP. While Teresa May has remained quiet so far, domestic pressure might build as treasured Brits like Olympic Gold Medallist Mo Farah is also banned due to his birth in Somalia.

British Parliament is already set to debate whether to ban Trump from an official State visit as signatures reach well over the 100,000 requirement online.

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already come out in force.

The executive order is both incredibly over-inclusive and simultaneously under-inclusive.

On the over-inclusive side, tens of thousands of innocent refugees who have been subject to unspeakable violence will be kept away from the protection of the United States on the miniscule chance that they might be terrorists. It will also include people such as students, professionals and tourists.

On the under-inclusive side, the order wouldn’t have blocked entry of many of the people responsible for the worst recent terrorist attacks.

Here’s how the order describes its purpose:

Section 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.