As many of you have heard by now, on January 27th President Donald Trump has signed a so called “Muslim ban” that stops all travelers and visa holders from seven countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. In addition, this order suspends the admission into the U.S. of all refugees for 120 days. This order seemed to have been signed without warning, the result has been that many people travelling to the US from these countries were caught unaware and were detained at airports with their status undetermined. There are plenty of stories of how this sudden order has played out. However, one question that has come up since the order has been signed remains; is this a Muslim ban? To have a better understanding of this issue, we need to delve into this further. We will analyze the liberal and conservative arguments in this article.

Note: The writer of this article does not possess a law degree. However, while there are plenty of writings on the moral implication of this order, there hasn’t been as much attention paid to its intent. For the travelers caught in disarray, especially many refugees that have undergone years of preparation & vetting , to end up arriving in the U.S. & placed in detention centers or never allowed to board their plane in the first place, the confusion and fear for the safety of their families has got to be unimaginable.

Right leaning groups and thinkers argue that the order is an attempt to protect the wider population and that the specific language of the bill does not specifically target any religion. Conservatives argue that the language of the bill does not mention any religion. A quick Ctrl+F of the order, found here, does not specifically mention Muslims or Christians. This seems to disqualify Trump’s ban from being classified as a Muslim ban. Even though this ban does target seven Muslim majority countries, the fact that it does not target all Muslim majority countries seems to point to this ban as a targeted ban against the countries, rather than a religion. The order itself only refers to “foreign nationals” as the class of people this ban wants to protect against.

This order does leave out many other Middle-East majority Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, or populous Muslim countries outside of the Middle-East such as Indonesia. Another thing to consider is that, with the exception of the permanent block on the Syrian refugee program, this order appears to be temporary. Any visa holders or tourists are blocked from entry for 90 days. Right leaning groups argue that all these factors go against the idea that this order is a ban against any religion. They are temporary steps while a more carefully crafted policy is put together.

Left leaning groups and political thinkers have defined Trump’s executive order as a Muslim ban. That is to say, they perceive the order as an attempt to specifically stop Muslims from entering the country. While no particular religion is mentioned in the text of the executive order, there is a clause that says that Homeland Security can “…prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” Some believe that this particular exception is made for Christians without explicitly saying so. Many Republican politicians have talked about exceptions for Christians as a policy for some time, so it is not a far leap to think policy may have been crafted with this exception in mind. An important part of determining the purpose of a law is the intent of its creators. Recently, Rudy Giuliani, an advisor to President Trump, gave an interview where he claimed that he helped the President create this law specifically so that they could make a Muslim ban legal. Rudy Giuliani, a former lawyer, might have determined that a ‘blanket’ Muslim ban would be easily challenged in court. However, a ban that only bans people based on their country of origin, while exempting Christians from this ban, might pass constitutional muster. Liberal thinkers might think that, while Trump’s order isn’t a de jure Muslim ban, it is a de facto ban.

We here at Arizona Public Square believe in aggressive input by ordinary people to our local officials. There will be arguments and discussions of this executive order in the coming weeks and months.

Please let your officials know what you think!

Senator Jeff Flake
Tucson Office 520-575-8633
Washington, D.C Office 202-224-4521
Senator John McCain
Tucson Office (520) 670-6334
Washington, D.C Office (202) 224-2235
Representative Martha McSally
Tucson Office (520) 881-3588
Washington, D.C Office (202) 225-2542