I spent a good portion of today writing a letter to Senator Roy Blunt (R, Missouri), because my conscience will not let me stay quiet. I wanted to make a case why the immigration ban in particular and other recent executive actions concerning national security more broadly ought to be met with bipartisan opposition. Since this is not merely a sticking point between liberal and conservative ideologies, I offered a short list of reasons why all elected officials ought to add the voice to curtailing many of the recent actions by the Trump administration.
I have my doubts about the efficacy of writing this, but, nevertheless I am going to compose a similar letter for my representative in the near future and am already planning letters on other issues. It may be shouting into the darkness, to be read only by a low-ranking staffer or intern, but so it goes. If it moves the needle at all, it will be worthwhile.
The transcript of the letter I penned is copied below. If anyone wishes to copy any portion of this to use in a letter to their own representative, you have my full permission.
January 29, 2017
Dear Senator Blunt,
I am a constituent in Columbia, Missouri (65202), and I am writing you today to express my concern over actions taken by President Trump’s administration on the issue of national security.
President Trump has moved aggressively and unilaterally. The highest profile action is the recent executive order that placed a temporary ban on people born in or holding the citizenship of seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa traveling into the United States, regardless of any other circumstance, legal status, or prior permission. The administration has insisted that this is the first step in enacting what the President touted as “extreme vetting” and will lead to even more sweeping measures to combat “radical Islam,” which, they say, will ensure the safety and security of the United States. Although the executive order does not explicitly restrict travel based on religion, it has been widely characterized as a Muslim ban, including by Mayor Giuliani, one of the architects of its language.
As of the composition of this letter the majority of the criticism of the ban by public officials has been by Democrats and Independents. President Trump’s rhetoric about national security does not make the United States safer and his early actions as president threaten both the wellbeing and the liberties of Americans at home and abroad. Opposition to President Trump’s unilateral action cannot be a partisan issue.
Allow me to provide a short list of reasons why I believe you should oppose both the travel restrictions and other actions on national security taken or proposed by President Trump.
- Federal judges have ordered stays on the most extreme parts of the executive order, but there are multiple accounts of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection officers who have refused to follow these rulings. They are insisting that their only orders can come from President Trump. This is not happening universally, but already these are indications that the actions taken by President Trump pose a grave threat to American institutions and the sanctity of the American judicial tradition. I believe that this executive order is a violation of the Bill of Rights, but what worries me more is setting the precedent that when the courts decide an action is illegal, those rulings can be ignored.
- The people who have been detained in US airports have already undergone years of background and medical checks. In many of these cases, these people risked their own lives and the lives of their families to help the US military, particularly in Iraq. Their willingness to help the United States continues to put their lives in danger in Iraq and, even if they had been living another country before being granted permission to enter the United States, they are at risk of being deported back to their country of origin.
- This executive order is built on the premise that the gravest threat to national security is “radical Islamic terrorism.” Since the attacks on 9/11/2001 there have been passing few attacks against US citizens by radicalized Muslims and, including the 9/11 attacks, there have been zero attacks by any citizens of any of the countries on the current ban. ISIL and other radical Islamic groups such as Boko Haram are a serious threat to global security, but this executive order only superficially targets radical Islam. In reality, President Trump’s order has validated the worst characterization of America and Americans, immeasurably undermining our national reputation abroad and encouraging—not discouraging—further radicalization.
- On the same issue: in an attempt to circumvent discriminating against immigrants based on their religion, this executive order is a blanket ban. It does not target Muslims or radical Muslims, but bans people who have been persecuted by the Islamic State, including Christians and the Yazidis, non-Muslims whose sons have been murdered and whose daughters have been given as sex-slaves to the men of the Islamic State. Along with most Muslims, these are all implacable enemies of radical Islam. This executive action leaves them vulnerable to ISIL predations and weakens the forces that oppose radical Islam in the Middle East and around the world.
- President Trump maintained during the campaign that the United States should not be committed to NATO. There has been no public action yet, but, much like the immigration ban, such blunt and abrupt action threatens US national security. Our allies in Europe, as well as Turkey, are shouldering as much or more of the threat from radical Islam than is the United States.
- Lastly, the executive order on immigration is indicative of a larger issue with the Trump administration that threatens American institutions. I am deeply concerned by the rapid rise of Steve Bannon, whose track record in public filings and at Breitbart reveals him to be a radical whose interests are not aligned with those of the United States. Particularly troubling is the recent news that he has displaced the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence on the National Security Council. It worries me that there is little vocal criticism of the radicalization of the Trump administration, of the continued conflicts of interest that cloak many of President Trump’s appointees, and of the lack of experience held by appointees to many critical positions.
I repeat: these are not partisan issues. The function of American government is predicated on a sharing of powers, with each branch of government serving as a check on the others. To stand passively by while the President of the United States threatens national security and runs roughshod over the protections enshrined in the Constitution is a serious abnegation of the responsibilities entrusted to all elected officials.