Resisting the ban
On seeing the news on Saturday morning, I couldn’t believe it. Sure, he’d talked about it throughout his election campaign, but Trump’s Executive Order on Friday suddenly made that dangerous, toxic, divisive rhetoric real. And in doing so the Trump Administration can no longer hide behind the ‘security’ argument. This law is arbitrary (why are wealthy predominately Muslim states like the UAE and Saudi Arabia not on the list – states where some attackers have in the past originated from?), discriminatory (stating a preference for Christian refugees is unconstitutional), and simply inhumane (banning refugees from impoverished countries where conflicts have raged, in the case of Sudan, for decades; flat-out refusing entry to refugees from Syria indefinitely).
Let’s be clear: Friday’s Executive Order explicitly targets Muslim refugees.
Constitutional? Apparently not.
Legal? Not according to international human rights law. (This is a good in-depth read on procedural flaws and legal holes.)
A means to deny certain people their human rights? Oh yes.
And on Friday, that brash, hateful rhetoric suddenly became human. It was a Yazidi woman, turned back from her long-awaited flight to the US from Iraq to be reunited with her husband, after finally being granted a visa. It was translators who had worked with US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, being denied opportunity for asylum. It was a scientist who had been on holiday to see her family in Iran.
The battle was waged at airports, suddenly gateways to a better life – or not. Passenger lounges turned holding pens for confused people who had done no wrong.
The horror is real. But so is the resistance.
In a show of seemingly instantaneous humanity, lawyers headed to airports across the US to investigate and represent baffled people being held by border staff who had only recently been instructed to follow arbitrary orders.
LITERALLY on the ground. Volunteer lawyers are working pro-bono on a Saturday preparing habeus corpus petitions for detainees at JFK. pic.twitter.com/ddUeQBi7AY
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) January 28, 2017
JFK's Terminal 1. Volunteer lawyers from firms across the city working to provide services to folks impacted by recent executive orders. pic.twitter.com/lm53KZRO4O
— NYC ImmigrantAffairs (@NYCImmigrants) January 28, 2017
People from the internet sent them pizza and coffee.
Taxi drivers refused to pick up from New York’s JFK airport in protest.
NO PICKUPS @ JFK Airport 6 PM to 7 PM today. Drivers stand in solidarity with thousands protesting inhumane & unconstitutional #MuslimBan.
— NY Taxi Workers (@NYTWA) January 28, 2017
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) January 30, 2017
And it’s been heartening to see businesses speaking out for the rights of refugees and migrants, whatever you might make of their practices.
Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always.
— Twitter (@Twitter) January 29, 2017
Apple, Microsoft and Uber publicly stated how they were supporting staff affected. Starbucks pledged to employ 10,000 refugees on the back of Trump’s announcement. Air bnb’s chief exec offered to house people stranded by the ban. Google set up a crisis fund to hand to the ACLU and civil rights organisations fighting on the frontline of the ban.
I have reservations about these companies, but hey, it’s easy to stay quiet. And it’s important that Trump hears dissent from the corporate sector.
While the gruesome policy suddenly had a devastating human impact, so suddenly a protest movement sprung up. And Trump cannot ignore the diversity of these voices, all saying the same thing – have some humanity.
Kim Kardashian got political.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 29, 2017
This evening, Amnesty will join the demonstration organised by Owen Jones outside Downing Street, calling on our Prime Minister to urgently call for an end to this Executive Order.
Chinks are showing. The ACLU and my new hero Judge Ann Donnelly have managed to block parts of the ban for the time being.
The President has this morning reversed the ban on green card-holders reentering the country they’re entitled to live in (and have likely spent years acquiring citizenship for).
While we live in dark days, we must speak out.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.