Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, said in an interview that the draft order is going to be read in the Muslim world “for what it is.”
“We’ve already seen it in ISIS commentary [that] the Americans are out to do in the Muslims everywhere,” he said. “So it sets the stage for the next generation of terrorists. Imagine some kid out there, a 12-year-old now in a refugee camp; that gets played and replayed, and replayed. He knows he doesn’t have a viable economic future. And ISIS or its successor is there with money and a gun.”
The draft executive order also severely restricts immigration from some Muslim countries, suspending for 30 days the issuance of visas from certain unspecified countries. Advocacy groups said, and news reports added, the countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The seven countries account for an insignificant number of people entering the U.S.—though they account for about 40 percent of the U.S. refugee intake.
Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at the NYU School of Law, said in an interview the draft executive order appears to suggest President Trump is “keeping up his electoral promises to stay true to his campaign theme.” But Chisti said Trump appeared to be moving away from his campaign vow to ban on all Muslims coming to the U.S. and “more into [banning] … the entry of people from certain countries. … So in many regards, this may sound nationality based. It doesn’t sound religion based.”
There’s precedent for such action, most recently in the form of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) that was put in place after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Twenty-five nations were placed on that list, all but one, North Korea, with Muslim majorities. The program subjected the nationals of those countries to enhanced questioning upon their arrival in the U.S.—but didn’t bar their arrival. Citizens of those countries already in the U.S. were questioned at immigration offices.
“That’s the closest parallel we’ve gotten to this,” Chisti said.
Crocker, the longtime diplomat who is now dean of Texas A&M University’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service, recounted a conversation from last August that, he said, reflected the goodwill Americans public traditionally enjoyed in the Muslim world.
“One comment I got in Jordan sticks with me, along the lines of ‘We Middle Easterners have always made a distinction between U.S. government policies, which we don’t like, and the American people, who we see as a force for good in the world,’” Crocker recalled. “This is going to come down as what the American people want, and it'll wipe away that distinction.”
The executive order could be signed as soon as this week.