Archive for the ‘Trump and refugees’ category

Refugee Admissions Plummet to 1,242 in First Month of FY 2018

November 4, 2017

Refugee Admissions Plummet to 1,242 in First Month of FY 2018, BreitbartMichael Patrick Leahy, November 3, 2017

Joshua Lott / AFP / Getty

The number of refugees admitted into the country during the first month of FY 2018 by the Trump administration plummeted to 1,242 – an 87 percent decline from the 9,945 admitted during the first month of FY 2017 by the Obama administration.

The percentage of refugees admitted who are Muslim declined dramatically as well, from 45 percent in October 2016 to 23 percent in October 2017, according to the State Department interactive website.

Of particular note is the precipitous drop in the number of refugees admitted from the seven countries whose citizens were temporarily banned from traveling to the United States under the first travel ban, Executive Order 13679, issued by President Trump on January 27, 2017.

In October 2017, the first month of FY 2018, only 275 refugees from these seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudian, Syria, and Yemen — were admitted to the United States under the Refugee Admissions Program.

In contrast, in October 2016, the first month of FY 2017, a total of 4,581 refugees from these seven countries were admitted into the United States under the Refugee Admissions Program (1,352 from Somalia, 1,323 from Iraq, 1,297 from Syria, 414 from Iran, and none from either Libya or Yemen.)

Should refugee admissions continue at this same pace for the remaining eleven months of FY 2018, the total number of refugees admitted for the entire fiscal year would be less than 15,000, which is 30,000 below the 45,000 cap for refugees set forward in the Trump administration’s presidential determination announced in September.

While such a dramatic dropoff seems unlikely, it is not outside the range of the possible.

The Refugee Act of 1980 requires the announcement of a presidential determination for the ceiling number of new refugee arrivals in the next fiscal year before the end of the previous fiscal year, but that number simply states the top cap for potential refugee arrivals.

The funding for the number of new refugee arrivals below that cap is determined by Congress, in consultation with the administration, during the budgeting process for the fiscal year. The announcement of a ceiling number of potential refugees in the presidential determination does not mean that that the ceiling number will be reached during that fiscal year, though historically the number of refugees admitted usually approaches or reaches the ceiling number.

FY 2018 is likely to be different than any preceding year in the three-decades-plus history of the federal refugee resettlement program, as a series of more stringent vetting procedures for potential refugees developed by the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security are currently in the process of being implemented.

Those vetting procedures may serve as an effective bottleneck to slow the flow of refugees into the United States at a level significantly below the announced refugee ceiling of 45,000 for FY 2018.

Refugee Council USA, the “trade organization” of the refugee resettlement industry, issued a statement last week that it “is appalled by the Administration’s proposed changes to refugee processing. These changes enact another ban on refugee admissions and are driven by ideology rather than necessity.”

The Trump administration, however, is continuing with its improved refugee vetting processes.

The refugee resettlement industry — which receives almost all of its estimated $1 billion annual funding from the federal government — is already feeling the budget pinch resulting from the diminished number of new arrivals.

“Refugee advocates called attention to the low monthly numbers in an online campaign Monday,” Voice of America reported, linking to this tweet from the Refugee Council USA:

FACT: 3,750 refugees must be admitted per month to meet to meet @POTUS‘s low 45k goal. Only 1,241 were admitted in Oct. 

The harsh political reality now facing the refugee resettlement industry is that neither the Trump administration nor Congress have much inclination to meet that 45,000 annual refugee ceiling.

This is especially the case in light of the recent revelation, reported by Breitbart News, that the Refugee Council USA spent $100,000 this year to hire the Podesta Group to lobby Congress and provide pro-Amnesty Republican legislators with “talking points” that can provide them “cover” when talking about refugee resettlement issues with the media and other Republicans.

Trump cuts Obama’s refugee target in half, takes more Christians than Muslims

September 27, 2017

Trump cuts Obama’s refugee target in half, takes more Christians than Muslims, Washington Times,  September 26, 2017

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Nov. 10, 2016. (Associated Press)

President Trump, in just eight months in office, has succeeded in upending U.S. refugee policy, cutting by more than half the 110,000-refugee target that the Obama administration had bequeathed him and dramatically shifting the demographics of who is accepted.

Gone is President Obama’s overwhelming focus on Muslims, and particularly on Syrians fleeing a civil war that his administration facilitated. Under Mr. Trump, the rate of Syrian refugees has been cut by more than 80 percent, and Christians have overtaken Muslims in total refugees resettled.

“It’s impossible to escape the clear message that there’s a new sheriff in town,” said Matthew O’Brien, research director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for stricter refugee controls.

 The Trump changes have reverberated around the globe, with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees drastically cutting the number of refugee candidates it submits to the U.S.

After recommending nearly 35,000 refugee candidates last year, the UNHCR submitted just 3,591 applications from January to July.

Refugee advocates say the U.S. is relinquishing its global leadership and moral standing and have challenged parts of the administration’s policy in the courts, pushing the country to move back toward the goals set by Mr. Obama.

The previous president called for up to 110,000 refugees to be admitted to the U.S. in 2017 and indicated that he wanted Syrians to be a large part of that, with the country on pace for more than 15,000 resettlements this year.

But Mr. Trump, as part of his first “extreme vetting” travel ban executive order, changed all that. He called for cutting the refugee cap from 110,000 to 50,000 and placed a four-month pause on the refugee program and a more lasting ban on Syrians.

Resistance by the courts, immigrant rights activists and Democrats on Capitol Hill dented those plans, but at the end of the fiscal year, it’s clear that the president mostly got his way.

As of Tuesday afternoon, with four days left in the fiscal year, the government had admitted slightly more than 53,000 refugees — less than half of Mr. Obama’s goal but slightly more than Mr. Trump wanted.

Perhaps the bigger impact was within the demographic breakdown, where Muslims dropped from nearly half of refugees under Mr. Obama to slightly more than a third. Christians, meanwhile, went from 43 percent to 53 percent under Mr. Trump.

Syrians, who represented a stunning 15 percent of all refugees under Mr. Obama, dropped to just 8 percent under Mr. Trump.

The State Department didn’t respond to an inquiry from The Times for this article.

Officials at the department are rushing to put together a recommendation for a refugee cap for fiscal year 2018, which begins Sunday.

Under the law, the administration is able to set an overall cap each year. It was set at 80,000 for the end of the Bush administration and beginning of the Obama administration, dropped to 70,000 in 2013, rose to 85,000 in 2016 and then to 110,000 this year.

Mr. Trump proposed cutting this year’s number to 50,000 and came close to fulfilling that, likely ending up just a few thousand over.

Courts had intervened, saying Mr. Trump couldn’t stop the arrival of refugees who had “close” ties to American entities, exempting them from his 50,000 cap.

The president is expected to suggest an even smaller refugee cap for 2018, analysts said. Several reports Tuesday put the figure at 45,000. The administration must conduct official consultations with Congress this week before finalizing the number.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, Illinois Republican and co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said he was disappointed by the low figure.

“I believe we can balance both compassion and security and remain the world’s shining city on a hill,” he said in a statement, adding that he believed the U.S. should “trust our long-standing and rigorous vetting system” to weed out dangers while allowing the pipeline of refugees to flow.

Top Democrats, meanwhile, prodded the White House Wednesday over reports that it nixed a study that would have shown refugees were a net plus for the U.S. economy.

“It appears that the Trump Administration may have rejected these facts in order to present a biased, incomplete, and ultimately false political narrative,” the Democrats wrote in a letter demanding documents.

Advocates say the U.S. puts refugees through stricter screening than any other category of visitor or immigrant to the U.S. and that fears of terrorists using the program to exploit weaknesses are overblown.

But security analysts say countries such as Syria are so broken that the U.S. doesn’t have access to databases or on-the-ground information to vet the stories of would-be refugees.

Mr. O’Brien said his group doesn’t oppose refugees, which he said are part of America’s moral obligation. But he said the government simply can’t vet all cases.

“In those situations in the past, the default position has been to look to the interests of the refugee. I think after Sept. 11 that is an impossible circumstance,” he said. “There are some people where it’s just not going to be possible.”

Mr. O’Brien said Mr. Trump is flexing the powers that the law grants the president, learning that he doesn’t have to work through Congress to make major changes.

Even as some in the U.S. protest Mr. Trump’s changes, the rest of the world is adjusting.

The UNHCR — which screens and recommends to the U.S. potential refugees from some of the world’s hot spots — has drastically slowed the pipeline.

The number of Syrians submitted to the U.S. for resettlement screening is down more than 80 percent so far this year. Similar drops were recorded for Somalia, Iran and Afghanistan. Iraq had an even bigger drop in submission rate by the UNHCR.

Judicial Watch Statement on U.S. Supreme Court’s Travel Ban Decision

June 26, 2017

Judicial Watch Statement on U.S. Supreme Court’s Travel Ban Decision, June 26, 2017

(Short and sweet. — DM)

Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement in response to today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning President Trump’s Executive Order that, among other anti-terrorist measures, temporarily restricts most travel from certain Middle East nations:

Today, in a historic decision, every Supreme Court justice agreed for now to reinstate practically all of President Trump’s executive order concerning travel. This is a major blow to anti-Trump activist judges on the lower courts.  And it is a big victory for our nation’s security, President Trump, and the rule of the law.  In light of today’s strong ruling, the Trump administration should consider additional steps to keep terrorists out of the United States.

Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump’s travel ban to take effect, will consider case in fall

June 26, 2017

Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump’s travel ban to take effect, will consider case in fall, Washington PostRobert Barnes, June 26, 2017

(The Supreme Court, in granting certiorari and allowing major portions of President Trump’s executive order to take immediate effect, appears to have rejected the specious ‘Muslim ban” vs First Amendment rhetoric of the lower courts. The WaPo writer seems to favor the lower court decisions. — DM)

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, and will consider in the fall the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raised fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.

The court made an important exception: it said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The court also said in the ruling that it would consider whether the case will be moot by the time it hears it; the ban is supposed to be a temporary one while the government reviews its vetting procedures.

The action means that the administration may impose a 90-day ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the United States, with the exceptions noted by the court.

Trump said last week the ban would go into effect 72 hours after receiving an approval from the courts.

The proposed travel ban has been a major point of contention between Trump and civil rights groups, which say it was motivated by unconstitutional discrimination against Muslims.

Trump contends the ban is necessary to protect the nation while the administration decides whether tougher vetting procedures and other measures are needed. He has railed against federal judges who have blocked the move.

Because the executive order was stopped by lower courts, travelers from those countries have been entering the U.S. following normal visa procedures. Trump first moved to implement the restrictions in January in his first week in office.

His first executive order went into effect immediately, and resulted in chaos at airports in the U.S. and abroad, as travelers from the targeted countries were either stranded or sent back to their countries.

Lawyers for challengers to the order rushed to federal courts, and the order was stayed within days. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit eventually said the order could not be implemented, infuriating the president, who said he would take the case to the Supreme Court.

But instead, his administration regrouped and issued a second order in March. It added a section detailing national security concerns, removed Iraq from the list of countries affected, deleted a section that had targeted Syrian refugees and removed a provision that favored Christian immigrants.

His lawyers told courts that the new order was written to respond to the 9th Circuit’s concerns. But a new round of lawsuits were immediately filed, and federal judges once again stopped the implementation.

A federal district judge in Maryland stopped the portion of the order affecting travelers from the six countries; a judge in Hawaii froze that portion and the part affecting the refu­gee programs.

Appeals courts on both coasts upheld those decisions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond agreed with U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in Maryland, who sided with opponents in finding that the ban violates the Constitution by intentionally discriminating against Muslims.

In a 10-to-3 decision, the court noted Trump’s remarks before and after his election about implementing a ban on Muslims, and said the executive order “in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

The president’s authority, the court said, “cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation,” Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote.

Meanwhile, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit said Trump had not adhered to federal law in which Congress gives the president broad power in immigration matters.

The 9th Circuit opinion did not dwell on Trump’s public comments, nor did it declare that the president had run afoul of the Constitution because his intent was to discriminate. Instead, they ruled that the travel ban lacked a sufficient national security or other justification that would make it legal, and that violated immigration law.

“There is no finding that present vetting standards are inadequate, and no finding that absent the improved vetting procedures there likely will be harm to our national interests,” the judges wrote. “These identified reasons do not support the conclusion that the entry of nationals from the six designated countries would be harmful to our national interests.”

They added that national security is not a ‘talismanic incantation’ that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power.”

In both appeals courts, a minority of conservative judges had said their colleagues were making a mistake. Judges should look only to whether the executive orders were proper on their face, they said, without trying to decide if the president had ulterior motives, and defer to national security decisions made by the executive branch.

“The Supreme Court surely will shudder at the majority’s adoption of this new rule that has no limits or bounds,”wrote dissenting 4th Circuit Judge Paul V. Niemeyer .

Trump thundered on Twitter after the judicial setbacks that the second executive order was a “watered down version” of the first. And while his lawyers in court described the action as a temporary pause in immigration and administration officials corrected reporters who called it a travel ban, Trump did not agree.

“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” he wrote.

Trump quietly slashes number of refugees from Obama’s target despite court order

June 5, 2017

Trump quietly slashes number of refugees from Obama’s target despite court order, Washington TimesStephen Dinan, June 4, 2017

Despite a court order halting most of his extreme vetting policy, President Trump’s administration has quietly been working toward his goal of a drastic cut in the number of refugees the U.S. will accept this fiscal year.

President Obama had set a target of up to 110,000 on his way out the door, but Mr. Trump tried to reset that number to 50,000. If the pace continues, the final tally is likely to be about 60,000 when the fiscal year ends in September — well below the level Mr. Obama wanted to lock in.

Most striking is the drop in the number of refugees from the seven terrorist-connected special interest countries that Mr. Trump singled out for extra scrutiny in his executive orders: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Those countries accounted for about half of all refugees admitted over the final months of Mr. Obama’s tenure. But during the past six weeks, they have represented only about a quarter of the refugees — despite a judge’s order instructing Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Obama’s policies in place.

Security analysts cheered the move, saying the new president has already changed the culture from the previous administration.

“Even if ‘extreme vetting’ is on hold, good vetting takes time, and the Trump administration’s plans to follow the law are eliminating the irresponsible rush to judgment that took place under the Obama administration,” said Matthew J. O’Brien, research director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform and a former senior anti-fraud executive at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, one of the agencies that handles refugees.

Across two executive orders — one in January and, after courts blocked it, a revised one in March — Mr. Trump has tried to impose a 90-day halt on all admissions from a half-dozen suspect countries. He has also attempted to enforce a 120-day pause in refugee admissions and a broader halt to any Syrian refugees. He also cut Mr. Obama’s refugee ceiling by more than half, to just 50,000.

The goal, Mr. Trump said, was to give his administration a chance to improve screening procedures so no potential terrorists could slip through.

However a federal judge in Hawaii said Mr. Trump’s entire approach has been tainted by the “animus” he showed Muslims during the presidential campaign and has put all of the key parts on hold.

That means the Trump administration is still admitting refugees from the seven targeted countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — but at much lower levels than during Mr. Obama’s tenure.

Syrians made up about 15 percent of all refugees admitted during Mr. Obama’s time this fiscal year. Over the past six weeks, though, they total about 4 percent. The number of Iraqis has dropped from 15 percent under Mr. Obama to about 8 percent of the total in the Trump administration.

Overall, the number of refugees accepted worldwide has dropped from more than 10,000 in October to 2,070 in March, and only slightly more than 3,000 in each of the past two months.

The Justice Department late last week asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the court battle and allow Mr. Trump’s full travel ban and refugee halt to be reinstated — including a full stop to Syrian refugees and reimposing the 50,000 cap for fiscal year 2017.

If they succeed, it would slow refugees even more. The government has admitted more than 46,000 in the first eight months of the fiscal year, so that would leave an average of just 1,000 for each of the final four months — 10 percent the rate Mr. Obama had hoped.

Refugee advocates say thousands of refugees could be stranded without options.

“For people who may have family here who don’t know what the future means for them, that’s just a tragedy. For people who were in the process and now are wondering what’s next for them, and people who are in precarious and tenuous and vulnerable conditions, what does this mean for them? I don’t have an answer for every refugee, but in general it’s not a good situation for refugees,” said Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.

She said American communities have shown “an amazing outpouring of support” for the refugees and that the government needs to match that commitment. Ms. Bellor said a 50,000 cap is well below what the U.S. can — and should — accept.

“Disappointment is kind of not even a strong enough word,” she said. “The U.S. should do more. The problem is great, our resources are great.”

The U.S. looks to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to conduct initial screenings to decide who would be good candidates for resettlement. American officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services then do their own screening, which includes an interview and the most extensive background check possible, and the State Department makes final approvals.

Refugees are resettled in the U.S. by nonprofit groups such as the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.

Mr. Trump argues that the U.S. needs better refugee screening, and security analysts point to a number of people admitted as refugees who have been charged with terrorist-related offenses over the past decade. Refugee advocates counter that the rate of crime and other dangers from refugees is low.

For now, battles in Congress over budgets and in the courts over the legality of the president’s plans have left the agencies that administer the refugee program struggling.

USCIS began a slowdown in January to conform to Mr. Trump’s 50,000 ceiling. When a judge in Hawaii issued an injunction in March halting the 50,000 number, USCIS had to alter its plans but had already canceled interviews with thousands of potential refugees.

Now, the agency is scrambling to adjust the pace of interviews.

The State Department blamed an uncertain budget situation for the overall slowdown and suggested that activity would pick up after Congress approved funding for fiscal year 2017 in early May.

The department said in a statement that it is acting under the 110,000 ceiling set by Mr. Obama but stressed that is an outer limit, not a target.

“We are not in a position to speculate as to the final number of refugees that will be admitted by the end of this fiscal year,” the department said.

The department declined to answer why the percentage of refugees from special-interest countries has dropped, saying only that “we continue to interview and process refugees of all nationalities.”

Mr. O’Brien said part of the slowdown from special-interest countries could be a result of deteriorating conditions in the Middle East in recent months.

But overall, he said, the numbers are a signal that Mr. Trump is in charge and employees are getting the message.

“Many of the people from the Iraq/Syria region under the Obama administration should never have been admitted to the United States. It appears that the Trump administration is making attempts to engage in serious (as opposed to superficial) vetting efforts and is approving refugee applications only for individuals who appear to be genuine refugees,” Mr. O’Brien said in an email.

He also said he suspects that where the Obama administration treated the refugee cap as a target to be met, the Trump administration sees it as an outer limit.

“Part of Obama’s immigration agenda was to significantly increase the number of both asylees and refugees admitted to the U.S. — presumably because President Obama saw the U.S. as being responsible for the degradation of the security situation in the Middle East. By way of contrast, President Trump has clearly indicated that he sees refugee admissions as a priority national security issue and radical Islam as the source of the problem,” Mr. O’Brien said.

President Trump and Pope Francis Meet Face-to-Face

May 25, 2017

President Trump and Pope Francis Meet Face-to-Face, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, May 25, 2017

(Please see also, Catholics Respond to Pope Francis’ ‘One-Sided, Misleading’ Message to Donald Trump. — DM)

[I]t is the fight against climate change that remains his top concern, which is of little comfort to the survivors and families grieving over their loved ones killed or injured in the Manchester slaughter. The same is true about those who suffered from the Islamic terrorist slaughter at a Coptic Christian church in northern Egypt on Palm Sunday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

[I]n the spirit of moral relativism so prevalent today, Pope Francis has declared: “There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia. By confronting terror with love, we work for peace.”

********************************

President Trump and Pope Francis held a half-hour private meeting at the Vatican on Wednesday. Despite their sharp differences on climate change, redistribution of wealth, the handling of refugees and other key global issues, the two men were at least outwardly cordial. Both clearly wanted to avoid anything that could be perceived as confrontational, which had characterized remarks each had made about the other on prior occasions.  However, Pope Francis used the occasion of the meeting to deliver a message to President Trump about the importance of remaining committed to the fight against climate change. He even decided to give the president a copy of his 2015 encyclical on saving the environment.

The meeting occurred only two days after the horrific suicide bombing in Manchester, England that claimed at least 22 lives, including an 8 year old girl, and injured many more. Yet fighting against the foremost evil of our day, Islamic terrorism, did not appear to be foremost on Pope Francis’s mind at his meeting with President Trump.   A message had been previously issued in Pope Francis’s name, stating that he was “deeply saddened” by the “barbaric attack” in Manchester and extending his condolences. However, it is the fight against climate change that remains his top concern, which is of little comfort to the survivors and families grieving over their loved ones killed or injured in the Manchester slaughter. The same is true about those who suffered from the Islamic terrorist slaughter at a Coptic Christian church in northern Egypt on Palm Sunday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

“With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester,” ISIS declared in a boastful statement. ISIS threatened more attacks to come against “the worshippers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission.” Children specifically will be targeted. A May 4th article entitled “The Ruling on the Belligerent Christians” previewed what lay ahead, declaring that the “blood” of women and children “is not protected” since they have not embraced Islam.

The Middle East and “the protection of Christian communities” did come up during the meeting between Pope Francis and President Trump, according to a statement released by the Vatican. However, they may well have been talking past each other.

When the Pope thinks of Christian communities, he tends to focus on what he considers to be the compassionate duty of Christians to reach out to the poor, including to care for the world’s many refugees and other migrants. Indeed, in February 2016, Pope Francis sharply criticized then candidate Trump for his views on immigration. “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the Pope said. On another occasion, speaking to Catholics and Lutherans in Germany last October, Pope Francis said, “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help…”

Pope Francis has acknowledged the “serious harm to the Christian communities in Syria and Iraq, where many brothers and sisters are oppressed because of their faith, driven from their land, kept in prison or even killed.” However, he has failed to single out for condemnation those responsible for such suffering and their animating ideology – radical Islamic terrorists, whose hateful ideology is rooted in their literal reading of the Koran and Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and actions. Instead, in the spirit of moral relativism so prevalent today, Pope Francis has declared: “There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia. By confronting terror with love, we work for peace.”

Terrorism, according to Pope Francis, feeds on “fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration.” End economic inequality, the Pope believes, and voilà – love replaces hatred and terrorism gives way to peace. “This is no time for denouncing anyone or fighting,” he declared. In the Pope’s reckoning, Christian minorities will be safe if we can just all agree to get along and share the wealth.

President Trump, on the other hand, is a realist. He recognizes the clear and present danger to Christian communities, particularly in the Middle East, from genocide committed by Islamic terrorists. These terrorists are not especially motivated by poverty. Indeed, some have been very well-off, including the late Osama bin Laden. As President Trump realizes, they are motivated by their hateful supremacist radical Islamic ideology, which spurs them on to attack the “Crusaders” wherever they can be found. They seek to make their fundamentalist form of Islam the only legitimate religion in the world.  The rest of us either have to convert, pay a tax to live as a dhimmi, or die.

In a major speech on terrorism that Donald Trump delivered last August while running for the presidency, he described the atrocities committed in the name of “the hateful ideology of Radical Islam.” These atrocities included, he said: “Children slaughtered, girls sold into slavery, men and women burned alive. Crucifixions, beheadings and drownings. Ethnic minorities targeted for mass execution. Holy sites desecrated. Christians driven from their homes and hunted for extermination. ISIS rounding-up what it calls the ‘nation of the cross’ in a campaign of genocide.”

This genocide is a product of fundamentalist Islam-inspired ideology, which cannot be fought “with love,” as Pope Francis would like us to believe. Nor would the West’s “warm human welcome” and “authentic hospitality” to all refugees provide “our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism,” as Pope Francis would also like us to believe.

Again, President Trump is a realist. His policies towards refugees, which Pope Francis evidently thinks are heartless, aim to protect Americans from jihadists seeking to enter the United States from the most terrorist-prone countries in the world. The president sought to reverse Barack Obama’s discrimination against Christian refugees – the truly persecuted victims of radical Islamic genocide in the Middle East – and was called an Islamophobe and worse for his efforts. Pope Francis should be standing up for what President Trump tried to accomplish in this regard. But he hasn’t. In fact, the Vatican expressed concern about President Trump’s first executive order suspending travel and entry of refugees from certain countries, which had included a provision providing preferential treatment for persecuted religious minorities such as Christians.

President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II successfully worked together, projecting military and spiritual power respectively, to defeat the evil of their day – communism and the Soviet Union. The evil of our day is radical Islamic terrorism, not climate change. Will Pope Francis follow in the footsteps of Pope John Paul and work with President Trump to help save Christians and other civilized people from this evil source of mass slaughter? Based on his record so far, it is doubtful, but we shall have to wait and see.

Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” Obamacare and Sally Yates

May 12, 2017

Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” Obamacare and Sally Yates, Dan Miller’s Blog, Dan Miller, May 12, 2017

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

President Trump’s initial executive order imposed a temporary ban on refugees from seven countries where terrorism is endemic and information on potential refugees is scant, pending development of a workable vetting procedure. He later vacated the initial order and replaced it with one affecting only six countries and making other changes not relevant to the points addressed in this article. 

The initial executive order was rejected as unconstitutional, apparently because in violation of the First Amendment (freedom of religion), by several district court judges and the replacement order has had the same fate. The rulings were based, not on the text of the orders, but on Candidate Trump’s campaign references to a “Muslim ban.” Both orders applied equally to non-Muslims and Muslims from the subject countries. Neither mentioned, nor banned, nor applied to anyone from, any other Muslim majority country. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2010 there were “49 countries in which Muslims comprise more than 50% of the population.”

On May 11th, law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote an article titled Sally in Wonderland: The “Curiouser and Curiouser” Position of The Former Acting Attorney General. It deals with the testimony of now-former (fired) acting Attorney General Sally Yates concerning her refusal to allow the Department of Justice to support President Trump’s initial executive order. Ms. Yates was a hold-over from the Obama administration.

Professor Turley opined on Ms. Yates’ decision in the context of this graphic:

Sometimes congressional hearings bring clarity to controversies. Many times they do not. Controversies can become “curiouser and curiouser,” as they did for Alice in Wonderland. That was the case with the testimony of fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week discussing her unprecedented decision to order the entire Justice Department not to assist President Trump in defending the first immigration order. Yates was lionized by Democratic senators as a “hero” and has been celebrated in the media for her “courageous stand.” However, for those concerned about constitutional law and legal ethics, there is little to celebrate in Yates’ stand. Indeed, her explanation before the Senate only made things more confusing. It was a curious moment for the new Alice of the Beltway Wonderland: “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

There has been considerable speculation on why Yates would engineer such a confrontation, but what is more important is her justification for ordering an entire federal department to stand down and not to assist a sitting president. Yates’ prior explanation fell considerably short of the expected basis for such a radical step. She dismissed the review of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) by insisting that those career lawyers only look at the face of the order and did not consider Trump’s campaign statements and his real motivations. Of course, many question the use of campaign rhetoric as a basis for reviewing an order written months later by an administration. Most notably, Yates did not conclude that the order was unconstitutional (in contradiction with her own OLC). Rather, she said that she was not convinced that the order was “wise or just” or was “lawful.” She does not explain the latter reference but then added that she was acting on her duty to “always seek justice and stand for what is right.” That is a rather ambiguous standard to support this type of obstruction of a sitting president. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asked, “Did you believe, then, that there were reasonable arguments that could be made in its defense?” In an astonishing response, Yates said no because she decided on her view of Trump’s real intent and not the language of the order. However, many judges disagree with implied motive as the appropriate standard for review, as evidenced by the oral argument this week before the Fourth Circuit. More importantly, at the time of her decision, many experts (including some of us who opposed the order) were detailing how past cases and the statutory language favored the administration. It is ridiculous to suggest that there were no reasonable arguments supporting the order. [Emphasis added.]

I agree with Professor Turley’s analysis and posted the following comment arguing that there is Supreme Court precedent for ignoring politically oriented campaign rhetoric such as Candidate Trump’s reference to a “Muslim ban.”

Ms. Yates testified that substantially the same standards of review apply to executive orders as to acts of Congress.

When Obamacare was under discussion prior to enactment and when it was enacted, its basis was claimed to be the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Those who wrote Obamacare and those who voted for it rejected the notion that it was a tax because to accept that classification would have been political suicide. President Obama did not suggest to the public that Obamacare was a tax. He claimed that it was appropriate under the Commerce Clause. As I recall, counsel for the Government rejected classification as a tax during oral argument, relying instead on the commerce clause.

The majority opinion written by Chief justice Roberts held that although violative of the Commerce clause, Obamacare was permissible instead under the powers granted by the Constitution to impose taxes and was, therefore, compliant with the Constitution. Even after the decision was released, President Obama continued to claim that it was not a tax.

Chief Justice Roberts cited the Congressional power to tax the non-purchase of gasoline — something the Congress had never done as to gasoline or any other commodity or service. He did not suggest how it could be done: tax everybody who fails to purchase gasoline, only the owners of automobiles, only the owners of gasoline reliant automobiles, only those owning such automobiles but failing to purchase specified quantities, and so on. As I recall, Prof. Turley wrote an article questioning the majority opinion’s reliance on the taxing powers of Congress. [Professor Turley wrote about the decision in an article title Et tu, Roberts? Federalism Falls By The Hand Of A Friend.– DM]

The evident basis of the Obamacare decision was the notion that acts of Congress are to be upheld if there is any Constitutional basis for doing so — despite politically motivated statements by members of Congress who had voted for it and despite assertions by the President and others that it was not a tax. Under the standard applied by Ms. Yates to President Trump’s executive order, such statements would have rendered Obamacare unconstitutional and obligated her, as Acting Attorney General, to refuse to support it in court. [Emphasis added.]

Ms. Yates was asked neither about the standard applied by the Supreme Court in upholding Obamacare nor her application of an apparently different standard to President Trump’s executive order.

The judges who have thus far rejected President Trump’s initial and second executive order adopted the same rationale as Ms. Yates. The judges who upheld the orders obviously did not.

It is probable that the Supreme Court will eventually decide on the constitutionality of President Trump’s revised executive order, particularly if (as seems likely) there is a split in the circuits. Justice Gorsuch will likely be among the justices who decide the case and the executive order will very likely be held constitutional. There will probably be more than five votes for its affirmation.

In the meantime, America will continue to receive substantial numbers of unvetted and potentially dangerous refugees whose admission the executive orders were intended to prevent. Oh well. What’s a few more American deaths by jihadists? What difference at this point does it make?