Like malicious children, the Trump administration built cover for its plan.
Pre-emptive exposure, after all, would have brought the light of scrutiny before the damage could be done.
President Donald Trump, after speaking about immigrants in disparaging tones throughout his campaign, threw down executive orders last week with wild abandon. But Trump saved the most immediately disruptive decree for late Friday afternoon.
That’s just late enough in the week to send reporters, immigration attorneys and constitutional experts scrambling. No one saw this coming.
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Citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries suddenly were banned from entry into the United States. Refugees, the most thoroughly vetted of all immigrants, were told they cannot enter the U.S. for at least 120 days. Those from Syria, arguably some of the world’s neediest displaced people at this moment in history, were locked out indefinitely.
At least until the further whims of Trump and his crafty co-conspirators.
State Department officials weren’t briefed in advance. By Monday, career diplomats — people who have served both Republican and Democratic administrations — were crafting a letter in defiance. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were left with scant directives. The nation’s airports were kept in the dark. Even Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John F. Kelly did not receive his briefing until Trump was signing the order at the Pentagon, The New York Times reported.
No wonder all hell broke loose. This is not an accident. The order was intended to create chaos, to generate fear among immigrants and to send a message.
Loud and clear it rang: The Trump administration will pontificate about terrorism and national security. But it is intentionally targeting Muslims. Friday, Trump admitted to the Christian Broadcasting Network that he believes the myth that the Obama administration dragged its feet in aiding Christian refugees, and he now wants them to have priority. Pew Research previously stamped out that falsehood, reporting that last year, 37,521 Christian and 38,901 Muslim refugees were admitted to the U.S.
And if the order was actually about terrorism, the countries affected would not be the seven chosen: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. No terrorists from any of those countries have harmed the U.S. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. And Osama bin Laden found shelter in Pakistan.
Military officials were mortified by the inclusion of Iraq. Iraqis are our allies in the fight against Islamic State.
The lie that Trump is interested only in stopping illegal immigration also was uncovered by this order. Legal permanent residents were among those suddenly banned. Monday, CNN reported that Trump administration officials had been warned that barring legal residents from entry would be a grave misstep. But those voices were shut down.
The administration eventually walked back the order’s inclusion of permanent residents after its hand was forced by legal rulings and massive protests at the nation’s airports.
The order affecting refugees and Muslim immigrants was so haphazardly crafted and executed, Trump’s intentions were laid bare. The president has been exposed.