On Holocaust Remembrance Day, airports overflowed with tension. President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending refugees from entering the United States for 120 days on Jan. 27, 2017. The ban prevented entry of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and also barred entry of those with visas from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen for 90 days. This was alongside the signing of an executive action to expand U.S. military forces.
“I promise that our administration will always have your back,” President Trump said. The president’s actions were met with immediate backlash. The Department of Homeland Security said that they will enforce all executive presidential orders and assured the public compliance with the judicial decisions.
Multiple judges across the country reviewed cases filed in the aftermath of the order. Judge Anne Donnelly, a Brooklyn federal judge, blocked the deportation of those returning to the United States under the new order after hearing the cases of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) presented on Jan. 28.
Meanwhile, in the federal court of Virginia, Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a restraining order to block the removal of green cards and visas in Dulles International Airport. Sally Yates, Attorney General under Former President Barak Obama, created a significant impact when she said that Justice Department lawyers would not defend any legal repercussions of President Trump’s action. Following her statement, Yates was stripped of her position and replaced by Dana Boente whose first action was rescinding Yates’s order.
On a local level, Wheaton College took a bold move in offering a Refugee Scholarship. By awarding a full scholarship to a student from one of the seven countries listed, the school hopes to encourage international acceptance. Samira Ahmed ’20 from Somalia said, “I definitely feel safe in Wheaton, especially because I have had so many emails from people… about how they’re going to be there for me and [that] if I need anything I should speak to them. So that was really comforting.”
Through Wheaton’s community, Ahmed has been working to spread hope and knowledge by working to create multilingual documents accessible to Somalis not fluent in English. In regard to the Refugee Scholarship, Ahmed said, “It’s an amazing opportunity that a lot of Wheaton students who are not affected by the law, they are using to stand up for rest of us, the minority. It’s an amazing feeling and a great representation of what Wheaton stands for.”
The federal courts of Washington seem to correspond to the opposition against the ban. On Feb. 3, Judge James Robart of the federal justice of Western District of Washington enacted the most substantial movement against President Trump’s Order. After hearing complaints from the states of Washington and Minnesota and from the President’s federal defendants, Judge Robart concluded that the ban would cause more harm than improve the state of the nation since it bars refugee entry and reentry by legal citizens. For the time, the executive order has been lifted, regardless of the stay filed by the Justice Department.