Solidarity Around the World: The Reaction to the Executive Order on Immigration

On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that halted immigrant and non-immigrant visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days. The seven countries are: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The ban was enforced immediately, and reports of permanent residents, international students, and people on travel visas being detained or sent back to their original location quickly came to light.


The order was very sudden and was reportedly enforced in a botched manner in many locations. Some green card holders were forced to sign I-407 forms: declarations of abandonment of permanent residence status, against their will or knowledge. A range of individuals were caught in the order, from a former Norwegian Prime Minister to an Iranian baby scheduled for life-saving surgery in an Some were able to travel back to their country, but there are many who are still awaiting their chance to return, or in the case of refugees, be able to travel away from a war-torn homeland. It is worth mentioning that there have been no terrorist attacks by immigrants from any of the banned seven countries in the United States.


The order was met with widespread condemnation from the international community and from ordinary citizens in the United States. Rallies and protests were held worldwide and in airports where individuals were being held. Lawyers rushed to the scene in order to help those who had been detained without just cause. Federal judges and nationwide organizations authorized legal challenges against the order. There is still a long fight ahead for those who oppose the ban, but hope stems from international and national movements that are actively working to dismantle the order as soon as possible.


The National Response


Companies such as Nike, the Ford Motor Company, and Goldman Sachs issued statements that denounced the detainment of citizens and employees from the banned countries. Microsoft, Amazon and Expedia are just three of 97 companies that filed a suit against the order. State governments also filed suits, including Washington, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia, which all argue that the order violated freedom of religious rights.


Tens of thousands of individuals attended demonstrations around the nation. They were held in major airports where there were detainees, and near government buildings and Trump-owned buildings. Those who opposed the ban argued that the order was against American values and would be ineffective in eliminating terrorist threats in the United States. The demonstrations signal that the Americans overall are angry about the order, and are willing to go to the streets and the courts to fight the ban.


International Opposition


Both France and Germany issued statements denouncing the order. President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced their concerns in a news conference in Paris, stating that it was ‘no way to fight terrorism’. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said that the order ‘violates our basic principles’ and would not thwart terrorism. There were marches in major cities around the world, including Paris, Toronto and Adelaide. The world is responding to the ban with unprecedented solidarity movements, both domestic and international.


A Big Legal Victory


Four federal judges blocked parts of the order in emergency rulings issued during the weekend of February 4-5. The last blow came from Judge James Robart, who issued a temporary restraining order against the ban on February 3. In order for the order to be constitutional, he stated, it should be “based in fact, as opposed to fiction”. The Justice Department filed an appeal of the ruling, which was subsequently denied by the appeals court on February 4. There will be another court ruling on the matter on February 7, with both sides filing briefs to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If this court determines that the Judge’s ruling is correct, the Justice Department will appeal to the Supreme Court, which will be the last court to decide whether the order is constitutional or not.


For now, people from the banned countries are able to arrive in America. There are reports of individuals rushing to get on planes to the nation as the restraining order is temporary and could be halted by future court orders. It is clear that there is significant outrage against the immigration ban, and that many will refuse lie low in their opposition.


Photo: Airport protest against immigration ban. Sit-in blocking arrival gates until 12 detainees at Sea-Tac are released (2017), by Dennis Bratland via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NATO Association of Canada.

About Juthika Hasan

Juthika Hasan recently obtained her Honours BA from the University of Toronto, specializing in Political Science. She is currently working in the Ministry of Education and has previously worked for the Ministry of Labour, Pay Equity Commission during her undergraduate studies. Her research interests include comparative public policy, global governance, and security crises in South Asia. She is planning to focus on researching provincial immigration and settlement policy and pursue a Master's degree in public administration. In the future, she hopes to continue her work in the Ontario Public Service as a policy analyst.