The Muslim Ban Executive Order – An Open Letter To President Trump

The Muslim Ban Executive Order – An Open Letter to President Trump

Dear President Trump:

Let me introduce myself. First and foremost, I voted for you in the most recent election. I’ve been a staunch conservative much of my adult life. I’ve been active in many GOP advocacy groups, both in the US and in Europe. I am a US immigration attorney. I’m also an entrepreneur and small business owner. My law practice and other business interests span the US and Europe. I was in the Brussels airport days before it was bombed. Thus, I am keenly aware of citizen fears surrounding immigration security, both here and abroad.

I may have been the only US immigration attorney in this election that voted for you. My colleagues certainly lean to the “left” when it comes to immigration policy. I voted for you, because after 8 years of stagnant progress on necessary immigration reform, I thought you were the best candidate to bring some “balance to the force”, that in turn would break the stalemate in DC surrounding immigration reform. I recognize we are a country of laws, and that immigration works best when good laws are followed and processes honored. In fact, many of my immigration clients who have “followed the rules” often express that sentiment themselves. I also recognize that an important aspect of immigration law is ensuring domestic security. When immigration processes are not effective, bad things happen, like 9/11. This in turn causes an exponential “backlash” against immigration, and we regress as a diverse country as a result. For the past eight years, not enough attention has been focused on bringing orderly structure back to immigration law, such that the US citizenry would gain confidence in the benefits of healthy immigration. The security aspect of immigration law was also diluted as a governmental concern. It was my hope that you would change that dynamic, in a way that would get both sides of the aisle recognizing the valid concerns each side of the immigration reform debate have. That in turn would bring about much necessary progress on that subject.

With that background, I must confess that I am gravely disappointed with the application of what is being termed your Muslim ban Executive Order. You have gone on record today stating that it is not a Muslim ban. In proper context, you are right. I’ve studied your order, and it applies to everyone from the affected countries, regardless of faith, and regardless of status. That very aspect of it makes it even more appalling. Ensnared in your order, are many persecuted individuals and families who were in the process of obtaining visas and green cards based on that persecuted status. Religious minorities in Iraq and Iran who are viewed as “apostates” under the predominant religious authorities. Individuals who have assisted our US military and placed themselves in grave danger as a result. Green card holders who have established exemplary residence in the United States and have made tremendous contributions to their communities. All now excluded from the United States, or detained within the United States, when they were already granted or promised the right to be here. For many of these wonderful folks, time is of the absolute essence, and 90 days can be a matter of life or death.

Moreover, the Muslim Ban Executive Order does little to actually address valid security concerns. The San Bernardino shooters had ties to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. While there is a valid point that vetting mechanisms, particularly for the wife, failed, they failed in Pakistan, which is not subject to your Executive Order. The Pulse Nightclub shooter and his wife, are not from countries covered by your Executive Order. The Boston Marathon bomber, is not from a country subject to your Executive Order. Americans want to see security, but this Executive Order is merely window dressing, if one analyzes the security lapses that have led to successful terrorist attacks on American soil.

On the contrary, this Muslim Ban Executive Order ensnares many law abiding citizens who dream of a productive life in the United States. I have represented Iranian clients over the years. They speak of hardships they had to endure at the hands of the Iranian government they despised, such as being imprisoned for the mere offense of owning a satellite dish. I’ve represented Muslim immigrants who have defied parental directives to marry Christian US service members, often resulting in permanent estrangement from their parents in their home countries. I’ve represented Muslim immigrants who have come to the United States to escape the prospect of arranged marriages in their home countries. I’ve represented service members who have married Iraqi citizens, and with whom they have built loving and happy families in the United States. The one thread that runs in common with these clients, particularly from countries like Iran and Iraq, is the escaping of oppression for the opportunity at freedom. Does your Executive Order uphold the promise of freedom and opportunity for the very people subjected to government oppression in their home countries?

In short, the implementation and application of your Muslim Ban Executive Order stigmatizes the very folks who support the United States, and dream of a new life in the United States with all of the freedoms we have to offer. Rather than enhancing security to keep us safe, it places persecuted individuals at grave risk of harm in their home countries. It acts as a major disincentive for citizens of those countries to help us, such as translators who help save US service member lives. The Executive Order penalizes the wrong people who believe in our ideals, while doing nothing of substance in keeping those in the world who hate our ideals, from attacking us.

Thus Mr. President, as an immigration attorney who voted for you, I implore you to rescind your Executive Order immediately, and promptly convene a roundtable of immigration attorneys who will be extremely happy to provide you with valuable information on ways to properly reform our immigration system in a way that ensures our security, benefits our diverse country, and strengthens our relationships in the world and our economy, while at the same time, preserving everything we stand for as a country. We can accomplish those results, without alienation, stigmas and discrimination. The Executive Order, and its application, is not what America is about. Rather, let’s be an example to the world in showing that a nation’s immigration system can be reformed and secured in a way that honors America’s ideals of inclusiveness, freedom and opportunity.

Very Truly Yours,
Richard L. Ruth, Esq.
The Law Office of Richard Ruth