Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Immigration Ban: How Trump's Inability to Distinguish Friend from Foe Destroyed a Family

by Nomad

What happens when a careless administration allows unqualified advisors to call the shots? As the world saw last Friday, innocent people get caught up in the cross-fire and families can be torn apart.

Bannon in Charge

As a businessman, Donald Trump was used to signing papers without a careful reading or deep comprehension of the potential complications or consequences. It's second nature to him.
He had teams of expensive and qualified lawyers to take care of that stuff. He had people that he trusted to sort all the boring details. These were experts in their profession. Men who knew what they were doing. These were people he knew he could depend on.

As president of the United States, Trump gets his advice primarily from, Steven Bannon, a former editor of a far-right-wing news site. If you somehow have doubts about the journalistic values of the
Breitbart News, just check this list of past headlines.

True, Bannon was once a Goldman Sachs as an investment banker as well as an executive producer in Hollywood. Nevertheless Bannon, however, has no expertise in Constitutional or international law. Could give a flying fig about human rights. He knows nothing about the complexities of immigration policy or international treaties. He is, in short, absolutely not unqualified for penning or spot-checking executive orders.
Nonetheless, PresidentTrump signs documents approved by Bannon without having any independent legal review. Trumps goes for the money shot and promptly displaying them for the press and moves on to sign more. And more like an assembly line for Constitutional hell.

In the wake of those executive orders, things, as we saw last week, can suddenly and dramatically spin out of control. Real lives are turned upside down.
Fox News- an outlet that Trump clearly trusts above all others-
reported the other day one such example.

Meet Citizen Hager

Iraqi-born Mike Hager hasn't had what anybody would call an easy life. Having fled his home country during the first Gulf War, he lived in a refugee camp with his family for four years before settling in the United States.
After 2000, events offered Hager an opportunity the help his adopted nation. He found work as a contractor for the United States Special forces between 2003 and 2008 as an interpreter and cultural advisor. That involved a lot of personal risk to himself. He even survived being shot in the back while serving.

Since that time, Hagar pursued the American Dream by owning a business in Metro Detroit. Over the years, Hager and his family had traveled back and forth between the countries to visit family and had never encountered a problem until last Friday.

That's when President Trump signed the Executive order on Immigration. As it happened, Hager, his niece, and two nephews had been traveling with his 75-year-old mother, Naima.
During the visit, Hager's mother fell ill and their travel plans were cut short in order to return home, that is, back to Michigan. And America had been home for Hager and his mother since 1995.

Caught in a Trap

That was when the news of the Trump's new order came down the pipeline. The affected agencies were reportedly not given adequate guidelines on how the order should be effectively implemented. It was, as far as we know, left to the arbitrary discretion of agents on the ground.
Indeed, CNN reported that the Department of Homeland Security was left making a legal analysis on the order after Trump signed it. It was also reported that Bannon personally overruled a decision by the Department of Homeland Security not to include green card holders in the president’s temporary ban on travel from Muslim countries. 
Documents obtained by CNN showed that DHS initially determined that “lawful permanent residents are not included and may continue to travel to the USA.”
But Bannon personally intervened to counter the guidance from DHS lawyers.
For Hager and his family, this turned out to be very bad news.
As he and his family were waiting in line at the Iraqi airport on Friday, he learned about the order. He was told that he could pass through because he was a U.S. citizen. But his family members - including his mom - weren't allowed. Their green cards were suddenly meaningless.
"The immigration told us that the President of the United States put an order right now - you guys cannot go."
In effect, Trump's new law has trapped Hager's family on the opposite side of a wall. On one side was their adopted country- for which Hager had risked his life, and on the other side- the side he and his family were stranded in- was the land of his birth.

A Family Torn Apart 

That must surely have been shattering for the family. Why should there have been any problems? His entire family had obtained their green cards and had lived in the United States for 20 years.
"I was just shocked. I had to put my mom back on the wheelchair and take her back and call the ambulance and she was very very upset. She knew right there if we send her back to the hospital she's going to pass away - she's not going to make it."
And sadly for Hager and his family, he was correct. His mother died the following day, barred from returning to America to her new-found home. If it weren't for the order, Hager believes, his mom would still be alive today. He blames her death on President Trump.

Had they known in advance, Hager might not have taken the risk of traveling abroad at all. A White House spokesman Sean Spicer explained that no travel warnings were given beforehand in order not to allow terrorists any prior notice. However, when asked about any specific terror threat, Spicer admitted there was none.

But glitches happen whenever new laws affecting so many people are introduced. What happened to Mr. Hager was an unfortunate but unusual event.
Not quite.
Reuters reports that according to an internal Department of Homeland Security document,  348 visa holders were kept from boarding U.S.-bound flights this week, and more than 200 people came to the United States but were denied entry.
More than 735 people were pulled aside for questioning by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at airports, including 394 green card holders, who are legal permanent residents of the United States, the document said.
Presumably, green card holders will eventually be allowed into the US without more delay. For Hager family, that will be of little comfort.

Meanwhile, Hager is understandably dismayed and disappointed. He said.
I really believe this in my heart: if they would have let us in, my mom - she would have made it and she would have been sitting right here next to me. She's gone because of him.
"They destroyed us. They destroyed our family
Because of  what many have called President Trump's recklessness and incompetence, "a proud American citizen," as Fox News pointed out, has had his family "torn apart."

A Call for Empathy

Even after his mother's death, Hager family's situation is apparently still in limbo. He has no idea when (or whether) his nephews and niece will be able to return to the United States and he's worried about his own status - even though he is an American citizen.

He has every reason to feel betrayed and bitter. He might be mourning the death of his mother, but he is also mourning the death of his trust. He had put his faith in America and now he is treated no better than a suspected terrorist. That was true as well for a 75-year old woman holding a green card. How much extreme vetting is necessary in this case.

Back in the US, Hager said:
"This is our home. We've been here for too long, we've been here since we were kids. If I'm not wanted overseas in Iraq and I'm not wanted here, then where do I go? What am I supposed to do with my family?"
If he could say something to Trump, Hager was asked, what would it be? Hager offered this surprisingly restrained reply, a call to empathy for the Commander in Chief:
"You have to understand you have a daughter - you have family - imagine if somebody does that to your mom. You put the terrorists on this side - the bad people - but don't mix everyone together."
Sadly for Hager and for the nation, President Trump clearly has a difficult time judging friend from foe, patriot from destroyer and ally from anarchist.
That's self-evident. After all, look at the people he has chosen to be his closest advisors.