Donald Trump has now been President of the United States for a little over a week. Unlike other Presidents he has implemented many of his campaign promises without delay. Of those the most controversial is the enactment of a 90 to 120 day ban on visas and immigration from several nations , and denial of entry to those holding valid Green Cards, until there is a satisfactory process in place to screen potential terrorist from the US. Many in the US and others around the world have protested this ban and legal action has brought a suspicion to parts the order. The problem with the Executive Order is that it goes against everything America has stood for, except self-preservation.
As I write this I must in all honesty tell the reader that this is not the first time something like this has occurred, nor is it the first in modern times. The most recent was a pause in visas for Iraqi refugees by President Obama in 2011. While it is argued that the Obama ban was more limited in scope, only refugees, it was within the same context to stop terrorist from entering the country. Trumps is more wide ranging in that it stopped ALL visa applications, canceled those that were already approved and denied those granted permanent resident status, Green Card. Prior to this however were bans on classes of people that were longer and more dire.
Exclusion of the Chinese:
President Chester A. Arthur, Signed on May 6, 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act banned “skilled and unskilled laborer’s and Chinese employed in mining” from entering the US for 10 years, it was the first significant law restricting immigration to the country. When it expired it was extended for 10 more years.
Jewish refugees during World War II:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt argued that German Jewish refugees posed a serious threat to the country’s national security. Drawing on fears that Nazi spies could be hiding among the refugees he limited the number of German Jews who could be admitted to 26,000 annually.
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Anarchist Exclusion Act which banned anarchists and others deemed to be political extremists from entering the US.
Passed by Congress on August 23, 1950, despite being vetoed by President Harry Truman.
The Internal Security Act of 1950 – also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 or the McCarran Act – made it possible to deport any immigrants believed to be members of the Communist Party.
President Jimmy Carter cut diplomatic relations with and imposed sanctions on Iran in 1979. He also banned Iranians from entering the country.
Ban on HIV positive persons:
In 1987, under President Reagan, the US banned HIV positive persons from arriving in the US. The laws were influenced by homophobic and xenophobic sentiment towards Africans and minorities.
President Trump has issued a new ban to last from 90 to 120 days that is designed to give time to institute a new process for admitting persons from regions as designated. The problem with this new ban is that it is too broad and was poorly thought-out and executed. The agencies responsible for enforcing the ban were neither consulted nor informed as to the intent or implementation. I would offer the new president a word of advice, you are no longer a CEO of a company but the leader of a nation. While even most companies, preparing a new product roll out, look to get buy-in from stake-holders, it is more incumbent on the president to talk to congressional leadership and his cabinet. I understand from the experience of business this may have been considered a trial balloon or a Beta test but the division in the US today will not allow for this.
Now to the upside to the ban. For too many years the immigration system in the US has been broke, and I do not mean only on the Mexican border. I have friends from the Middle East, especially from Kurdistan, who wait far too long to get visas either for themselves or family, for no other reason than the draconian rules and regulations that make the process glacially slow. For far too many years the congress has bemoaned this fact and failed to do anything about it. The reaction to the ban may be the stimulus needed to “Reboot” the system. Are there legitimate concerns with a too weak or open border process, yes. My maternal grandparents immigrated from Italy when Italian immigrates where not welcomed. My mother-in-law was a refugee from Nazi Germany after the war and even though she was living in a refugee camp the vetting process took a long time and she had to have a relative in the US vouch for her and a job waiting. While she was going through the process many actual war criminals where let into the country. This last is important as we analyze further.
The cause of the ban put in place by President Obama was the discovery of two Iraqis who had made it through the process and were in the US planning to send support to Al-Qaida in Iraqi. The two were in the US as asylum seekers and had been bomb makers in Iraq and their fingerprints were discovered on a piece of an IED. In other words, they should never have been let in. With the individual attacks over the years such as Ft. Hood, San Bernardino, Boston and Florida as well as the problems seen in Europe coupled with a lack of any concrete actions by the Obama administration to act, Donald Trump acted.
The actions taken on the ban, in my opinion, were too harsh, too wide spread and implemented without thought as to impact and consequences. I give thumbs up to intent, protecting the country, but thumbs down on implementation. In business, there is always time to correct a mistake, not always in government actions. In this case, there is time to repair the damage and continue to move forward. Donald Trump is a far different person then was Barack Obama, or most other politicians. He will move too quickly and make mistakes so we need to get used to it. The makeup of the US government with its checks and balances will hold most of the executive actions in place.
As I have said before I was not a supporter of Trump during most of the primaries but did support him in the end as being the best of the chooses given us. No this is not a resounding endorsement but I am confident that his ability to learn far exceeds others and that given time he will find the middle ground that US policy so desperately needs. In the meantime, it’s going to be a wild ride