An executive order signed by President Donald Trump last Friday that has sparked protests around the country has now created unrest within the US State Department.
Career Foreign Service officers at the department submitted a memo through an official channel raising their objections to the administration’s decision to ban travelers, including refugees, from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.
“This ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold,” the diplomats wrote.
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Lawfare blog reports that “literally hundreds” of foreign service officers are planning to sign on to the memo.
The document was submitted through the State Department’s Dissent Channel, which was created in 1971 as a method for employees to lodge policy complaints. Those submitting complaints are supposed to receive an official response within 30 to 60 working days.
The missive states that the order will “immediately sour relations” with much of the Muslim world, and will “increase anti-American sentiment.”
“When 220 million citizens of these countries lose the opportunity to travel to the US overnight, hostility toward the United States will grow,” the officers wrote. They added that the State Department “already has numerous tools already at its disposal to secure its visa process.”
Trump’s order temporarily barred the resettlement of Syrian refugees stateside; though it did create an exemption for Christian Syrians. The decree also prohibited travelers from Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan from entering the US for 90 days.
Immediately after its signing, the order led to chaos at international airports around the country. Travelers — including Green Card holders and other legal residents — who hailed from banned countries found themselves detained by customs officers. The Department of Homeland Security told the New York Times that 109 people were detained at US airports following the signing of Trump’s order. Another 173 individuals were prevented from boarding planes en route to the US.
In response, thousands of protestors descended upon airports — like JFK in New York, Washington Dulles in Northern Virginia, and Boston’s Logan Airport — to agitate for the release of travelers.
Lawyers representing the detained had convinced federal judges in those three states to place a temporary halt on parts of the executive order Saturday night, blocking the Trump administration from deporting anybody with valid visas, and requiring DHS to allow detained individuals to see an attorney. Since then, many individuals have been released, but others are still being detained or deported by DHS in defiance of the court order.
For example, Customs and Border Patrol agents at Dulles International Airport were ignoring the courts. At one point on Sunday, Members of Congress carrying the physical court documents asked officials to allow them to see the detainees, and were rebuffed.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) took to Twitter after the affair, and declared, “We have a constitutional crisis today.”
“Four members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away,” the congressman added.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the ban on Sunday, claiming that the “safety of the American citizens, the safety of our country has got to be paramount.”