Week one: a review of Trump's executive actions

Hours after being sworn in as the 45th president, Donald Trump signed an executive order to reduce the cost of the Affordable Care Act pending its repealment, one of 12 actions to be signed in his first week. The order is intended to provide discretion to the Health and Human Services Department to cut or defer any parts of Obamacare deemed to be a financial burden to individuals or healthcare providers. A complete repeal and replacement of the mandate, which covers 20 million Americans, is slated to be brought to Congress in the spring. Since then, President Trump has signed exactly 18 executive actions.
President Trump signed a second, two-pronged executive order on Jan. 25, the first part concerning his oft-repeated campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump initially promised that the wall would be paid for by the Mexican government. But the administration now says funding will come from Mexico indirectly through a 20 percent tariff hike on imports which could translate to a significant rise in the price of many common consumer goods in the U.S. Trump included that remittances normally paid to the Mexican government will be also be redirected towards the wall. Still, none of this can be implemented without the approval of Congress, and, according to CNN, Democrats are already making plans to block the necessary legislation. Sophomore Justus Hanson, a Trump supporter, expressed his approval for the wall but added, “Building a wall might slow people down, but it’s not going to completely stop people from coming to this country.”
The second part of the Jan. 25 order plans to restrict federal funding for sanctuary cities in order to promote the enforcement of immigration laws. The top ten largest sanctuary cities could collectively see $2.27 billion in cuts, according to Reuters. Yet as the threat of defunding looms, many cities have stood up for their policies, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said on Wednesday, “We welcome people, whether you’re from Poland or Pakistan, whether you’re from Ireland or India or Israel … you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American Dream.”
Trump also issued several presidential memoranda, which carry slightly less weight than executive orders. The first of these was the reinstatement of the “Mexico City Policy,” which has been something of a political football for years as it has been instated and removed by Republican and Democratic administrations. The policy itself pertains to defunding international health organizations that offer or promote abortion. Its reinstatement has been a win for many conservatives, including Speaker Paul Ryan who said, “President Trump is wasting no time acting on his promises; he has renewed President Reagan’s policy to ensure American taxpayers are not forced to subsidize abortions anywhere in the world.” However, some are concerned about the potential negative effects that the order could have on international health. Planned Parenthood stated on Twitter that the policy “will cause clinic closures around the world, resulting in more unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion, not less.”
Another memorandum orders the renewal of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline projects, an action which closely follows a short-lived victory for protesters who in December achieved a halt to the DAPL project through the Army Corps of Engineers. Construction will not resume immediately because the application for the Keystone Pipeline must first be re-submitted to the U.S. Department of State and the construction of the DAPL is subjected to a governmental approval process, albeit an expedited one. President Trump has defended his action by saying that it will create up to 28,000 jobs as well as contribute to energy independence.
Trump closed out his first week by signing one more executive order, this time to restrict all refugee immigration to the United States for 120 days, as well as any visa holders or new immigrants from entering the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan or Yemen for the next 90. Refugees from Syria are banned indefinitely.
The order has already caused chaos at U.S. airports as border agents have begun enforcing the ban. Protests erupted at airports including O’Hare asking that Syrian refugees and other detainees be released into the U.S. While President Trump maintains that it will strengthen the nation’s security, Sophomore Emily Miller, who is opposed to the ban, commented, “It’s a policy that says to refugees, ‘your survival is not as important as my peace of mind.’”
Release of initial detainees was accomplished Saturday night when a federal judge ordered a stay of the executive order. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have both announced that they will be filing larger-scale lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the ban, arguing that it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
Meanwhile, many families could be separated by the ban, as visa holders remain uncertain about whether or not they will be denied re-entry if they leave the U.S. Junior Maryam Bighash, a green-card holder from Iran, could be separated from her extended family indefinitely, and her plans to study abroad next spring are in doubt. Bighash said, “For me, the biggest thing is I might not get to see my family.” The situation will continue to develop as litigation and enforcement of the ban evolve.

Leave a Reply