Immigrant ban shows Trump needs to consider consequences of his actions
Donald Trump had been president of the United States for eight days before his conduct caused one of the nation's religious leaders to shake his head and suggest that President Trump had gone too far.
And the aftermath of that Trump action, still reverberating throughout the country, could very well be the first indication that the Trump Administration is going to be a short one -- four years or maybe even less.
President Trump's announcement last Friday (via an executive order) that the United States was restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries as part of his plan to tighten national security has sparked an outcry that has reached into virtually every city that has an international airport. Chicago, of course, has one of the busiest international airports and O'Hare International was one of the centers of attention.
While there were media reports that the new Trump White House team had planned to launch such a refugee block, there was no indication when and how it would take place and when it was launched on Friday, one of the results was that travelers on board aircraft were refused admission to the United States upon landing.
One of the unexpected reactions to the Trump Administration's new policy was a strong statement in opposition from Chicago's Roman Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich.
Cardinal Cupich, still relatively new in Chicago and not yet widely known as a strong advocate on human rights, said, "This weekend proved to be a dark moment in U.S. history. The executive order to turn away refugees and to close our nation to those, particularly Muslims, fleeing violence, oppression and persecution is contrary to both Catholic and American values."
Cardinal Cupich is not considered a political "insider" or even a political figure.
But as the leader of more than 2.3 million Roman Catholics in Cook and Lake counties, he does have a significant built-in following and the reaction to him among most Catholics seems to be favorable. And as relatively new as he is in Illinois, he is not politically naive. Among those who were invited to travel to Rome when he was installed as a Cardinal in October were Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat. Also invited were two other prominent Illinois Democrats, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Ann Burke.
The statement by Cupich this past weekend was not soft. It was not a prayer. It was a strong statement by a spiritual leader who has not been corrupted by Illinois politics. Here are two more paragraphs from his statement:
"These actions impose a sweeping and immediate halt on migrants and refugees from several countries, people who are suffering, fleeing for their lives. Their design and implementation have been rushed, chaotic, cruel and oblivious to the realities that will produce enduring security for the United States. They have left people holding valid visas and other proper documents detained in our airports, sent back to places some were fleeing, or not allowed to board planes headed here. Only at the eleventh hour did a federal judge intervene to suspend this unjust action.
"We are told this is not the 'Muslim ban' that had been proposed during the presidential campaign, but these actions focus on Muslim-majority countries. They make an exception for Christians and non-Muslim minorities, but not for Muslim refugees fleeing for their lives. Ironically, this ban does not include the home country of 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers. Yet, people from Iraq, even those who assisted our military in a destructive war, are excluded."
Trump should listen to Cardinal Cupich. The president's hasty action to "do something about the Muslims" (writer's words, not Trump's) seemed to be an effort to show Americans, and the world, that he is "going to get things done, is going to make things happen."
Someone needs to tell him (but does he listen?) that presidential actions deserve careful and thoughtful planning. They can (and usually do) have consequences.
And he does not need to have every staff person on the payroll standing behind him as he signs orders or resolutions. They should all get back to work.
Ed Murnane, firstname.lastname@example.org, of Arlington Heights, is retired president of the Illinois Civil Justice League and a former staff member for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.