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As bigotry becomes policy (Hindu.)

American President Donald Trump implemented his campaign promise of “extreme vetting” on Friday when he announced that his administration had banned, for 90 days via executive order, travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan were not on the list, perhaps owing to the close economic and strategic ties that Washington, and indeed the Trump Organization, have with some of these nations — although White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated that Pakistan may be put on the list, going forward. Mr. Trump has placed on hold indefinitely the U.S.’s asylum programme for refugees from Syria, and suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days. While he may have enthused his core constituency of predominantly white, blue-collar workers, beset with economic and racial insecurities, his order sent shock waves at home and abroad, and sparked fears that it could create a recruitment bonanza for terrorists. Leading the liberal counterattack, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that Mr. Trump’s order represented constitutional and legal overreach. In response, a federal judge in New York ruled that sending back the travellers detained in airports may cause them “irreparable harm”, and that the government was “enjoined and restrained from, in any manner and by any means, removing individuals” with valid papers. Similar rulings came in Virginia, Massachusetts and Washington State.

Mr. Trump’s shock therapy for controlling immigration begs the question whether the order is constitutional. In 1965, Congress had deliberately circumscribed presidential power in this regard by stating that no one could be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth...” The order will probably have a wider fallout in the economic sphere — already Silicon Valley firms have scrambled to bring back their staff deployed in affected countries, and CEOs including Google’s Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, have expressed concern that the ban will affect their talent pools. More broadly, Mr. Trump’s order has done irreparable damage to America’s reputation as a melting pot of immigrants, a beacon for bright minds and a humane force against authoritarian excess abroad. No major attack has taken place on U.S. soil in the past eight years. Ultimately, Mr. Trump’s insistence on preferential treatment for Christian refugees makes a bogeyman of Muslims, a retrograde action that will exacerbate anti-Americanism worldwide.


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