The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adoptedin 1791, reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
These forty-five words encompass the most basic of American rights: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right of assembly, and the right of petition. We have a Constitutional Crisis when the President of the United States issues an executive order that violates the most basic of American rights, freedom of religion. That’s exactly what Donald Trump promised to do during his campaign, and what he has now done during his first week in office.
CNN reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency which oversees Customs and Border Protection, did not even know about the executive order until it was being released to the public. Nor did its lawyers, who did not do a legal analysis of it until after it was in effect. DHS lawyers reportedly determined that it did not apply to green card holders and permanent residents, but the White House – led by Steve Bannon – overruled that objection and kept the restrictions on green card holders in place.
Several judges put an immediate stay on deporting legitimate green card holders stuck in airports on Saturday night and ordered those still detained have the right to access lawyers. “But the situation got even more bizarre and Orwellian on Sunday: CBP officials at some airports – in direct violation of the court orders – were reportedly still refusing lawyer access and apparently not responding to congressional representatives who were trying to figure out what was going on.”
As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wrote: “$64,000 question is: are they being told to violate the court order by the White House?” If the White House is, in fact, directing DHS and CBP to violate a crystal clear court order, the rule of law has completely broken down and we are in a truly unprecedented situation here.
In the face of the massive protests, on Sunday night, new DHS secretary John Kelly released a statement saying all permanent residents will be let in the country, yet there was still no word from lawyers on the ground whether it is actually being obeyed.
The White House, meanwhile, is still pretending that its executive order is not technically a “Muslim ban”. Beyond the obvious fact that Trump campaigned on such a ban, his crony Rudy Giuliani laid those questions to rest on Fox News late Saturday night, claiming Trump asked him to figure out how to make his Muslim ban campaign promise “legal” – confirming it’s a Muslim ban in all but name.
No matter your political views, the fact that the White House is attempting to circumvent legal advice, install dubious appointees to incredible powerful national security positions and violate court orders is outrageous and despicable, so let’s be clear: “Congress needs to quickly move towards impeachment if this is true.”
From New York’s JFK airport to San Franscisco’s airport,
people across America are protesting the violation of the most fundamental of American rights. Imagine the outrage an American citizen would feel if they were refused admission to their country because of their religion.
Trump’s ban—which targets nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen—is affecting people on pretty much every possible scale and corner of the internet. On the macro scale, BBC reports that Google has issued a recall to 100 of its traveling employees to return home, lest they be blocked from the country by zealous (i.e., accurate) execution of Trump’s orders. Microsoft, which, like much of the tech sector, relies on the work of 1st and 2nd-generation immigrants to power its success, issued a statement warning shareholders of the impact of the ban on its business. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg issued a long statement outlining his concerns with Trump’s actions, writing, “Expanding the focus of law enforcement beyond people who are real threats would make all Americans less safe by diverting resources, while millions of undocumented folks who don’t pose a threat will live in fear of deportation.”
On a more human scale, a number of refugees have already been detained at JFK Airport, and even more have been blocked from boarding flights bound for the U.S. Many of these were students with green cards who had the bad luck to be traveling abroad when Trump’s order was signed, while others were experts looking to lend their abilities to medical research fields. According to The New York Times, lawyers for at least one refugee hopeful—an Iraqi man who worked as a translator for the U.S. military—were told “Call Mr. Trump” after asking who to contact about securing freedom for their client.
Not surprisingly, Trump attacked McCain and Graham, through Twitter. Instead of addressing their constitutional concerns, Trump accused the veteran senators of “looking to start World War III.”