The concept of an immigration ban isn’t by any stretch a new one. And yes, controlling who gets into a country from where is the right of any nation-state, as well as one of its responsibilities. Which is of course the key word for these sorts of decisions: responsibility. The responsibility to plan out any such policy, to coordinate with lawyers and legislators, to ensure it works within current immigration law, to inform and direct the agencies involved, so as to ensure not only the efficient application of the new but also the caveats, the exceptions, the basic expectations of decency that immigration of travelers and refugees implies.
Which is why it’s so confusing (irritating) that Trump, Bannon and Miller seemed to do none of these things.
They did not coordinate with Homeland security, which would have to actually operate this ban. They did not coordinate with lawyers or legislators to ensure no conflicts arose between the executive order and the current law. They did not coordinate with the immigration office, so to ensure citizens, green card holders, translators who had risked their lives for a country that was not theirs or indeed any other such organization. And then they were shocked when, of course, it didn’t go to plan.
When people protested in mass and spontaneously at airports all across the United States. When social media exploded in response to stories of the above translators being prevented from being brought in, lawyers offering their services for free, toddlers being handcuffed because of their nationality. All of which could have been avoided if they had only done their job, communicated with their people, their government as they were expected to do, and crafted a law that made sense.
Now none of this is to imply that this immigration ban, this executive order, isn’t illegal (it is).
Nor is this to imply that, despite claims to the contrary, that this order is in anyway similar to Obama’s 2011 policy (it isn’t).
But to recognize the problems inherent in this order the conflicts that arose and the lessons that need to be drawn from this both from the opposition to Trump and to the administration itself is of paramount importance. That an ill-thought out scheme not only produces instability and massive protest in response, and must therefore be mitigated and coordinated to be as effective and (most importantly) quietly to ensure a minimal level of fuss, but simply shows Trump and his administration to be, to be frank, incompetent must be avoided from now on.
But the opposition must take this not only as a weapon, but motivation. Build from this spontaneity because as the above states, these positions, these plans they aren’t going away. They will persist and only maintained opposition, from lawyers, NGO’s, candidate’s incumbent or new, will be able to not only oppose but effectively stymie the development of any further policies that attempt to fundamentally change a nation that assumes the title of leader of the free world.