Nasty Women to the Front
Last Friday, Trump signed an executive order that selectively bans people from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days and bans all refugees, regardless of their country of origin, for four months. Noticeably absent in that Listicle Heard Round the World? Majority-Muslim nations where the President has business relationships.
We probably don't need to convince anyone reading this newsletter that this is a terrible, no good move that Politico's Corey Brettschneider and others argue violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. Even Kim Kardashian is well aware that Americans born in the U.S. pose a more imminent risk to other Americans' safety than folks traveling into the country.
But these days especially, we're all about being statistically prepared for when we step outside our political echo chambers:
- Zero people who emigrated from or whose parents emigrated from the seven travel-banned countries have carried out a terrorist killing on U.S. soil. (NYT)
- One-1,870th of American killings since Sept. 11, 2001, were perpetrated by a Muslim terrorist. (NYT)
- Where in the world are children in the direst need of aid? Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, all of which are on the banned list. (NYT)
Of course, those affected aren't just statistics. They're people, including a 4-month-old Iranian girl in need of lifesaving heart surgery and 5-year-old boy coming home from Iran who was kept from his mother for hours. The Chronicle of Higher Ed also reports that Iranian academics are disproportionately impacted by the ban, which could have a negative ripple effect within U.S. industries as half come stateside to study STEM fields.
At the Atlanta airport rally last weekend (Photo by badass babe Lizzy Johnston)
Legal ladies to the rescue
The response was immediate -- and led largely by women. Protesters flooded major airports across the country as part of the #nobannowall movement, and lawyers showed up in droves seeking to help travelers caught up in the chaos. In Washington, D.C., alone, two-thirds of the lawyers were women. Pro bono fact: Women also make up 60 percent of public interest lawyers.
Muslim-American attorney Sarah Dill told reporters that despite attempts at delineating which travelers were allowed in, people from all Muslim-majority countries were being detained or denied entry, including Syrian women and children who "have a dictator committing war crimes, they are coming out of this trauma. … They had all of this hope that they were finally going to have safety and freedom, and they are being sent back.”
While lawyers were on the ground working with families, five judges -- Ann Donnelly, Leonie Brinkema, Allison Burroughs, Judith Dein and Thomas Zilly -- ordered temporary stays on the order from Saturday night into the wee hours of Sunday to halt possible deportations.
New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez was out there on Saturday with the protesters demanding justice for detained refugees and lawyers trying to help families navigate the system. Also spotted at Sunday's protests in Battery Park was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who also happens to be the only senator to vote no on all but one of Trump's cabinet picks; Women's March leaders Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory; and New York City public advocate Tish James.
On Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Patty Murray (D.-WA) penned a letter on behalf of the Democratic Caucus expressing their "outrage" with the order. Its "haphazard implementation both run counter to our American values and the Constitution, as well as our national security and economic interests," they wrote. Executive action “that denies entry to refugees escaping violence and oppression with an explicit preference for people of one religion over another is unconscionable and unconstitutional.”
Then-interim U.S. Attorney General and #ATL native Sally Yates also had a case of the Mondays. That night, she sent Justice Department lawyers a letter saying she wasn't "convinced that the executive order is lawful" ("not convinced" is pretty strong language from the interim AG, btw), and that “consequently, for as long as I am the acting attorney gneral, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”
In an unprecedented, though unsurprising, move, Trump fired Yates before the night was out, cueing way too many Apprentice jokes across the internet. In a statement, the White House framed Yates as having "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. Irony alert: During Yates's confirmation hearing in 2015, Alabama Senator and soon-to-be U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pressed her over whether she'd stand up to the Obama administration if it attempted to enforce something she disagreed with legally.
Her response at the time? “I believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the president."
Yates stayed true to her word until the end.
Read more: Trump's Nightmare: Women Opposing Him.
~ Have questions or conundrums you'd like us to tackle? We're all ears. ~