legal stories

With all the uproar over the NFL and our national anthem you may have missed these seven absolutely important legal stories from the week.

1. The new travel ban is one of the legal stories missed this week

On Sunday President Trump released an 18 page Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorist or Other Public-Safety Threats.

This is round three for the Trump Administration.  In January the White House imposed a travel ban that created havoc in airports across the country.

For more Read our blog, Why should I care about the refugee ban?

The White House adopted a new ban in March.  This ban led to several court challenges which were consolidated before the United States Supreme Court.

For more read our blog, 3 helpful ways to engage the travel ban decision.

Many of the provisions expired on Sunday and to strengthen the administration’s position the new proclamation was issued.  The new action specifies deficiencies in the vetting process of eight countries (Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia).  While we can disagree politically on the shutting of our borders to people in need, this new ban is the strongest yet and is likely to survive any legal challenge.

2.  The US Supreme Court’s canceling arguments in the travel ban case is one of the legal stories missed this week.

On Monday following the revised travel ban, the US Supreme Court canceled oral arguments in the case pending before them.  Opponents point to Trump’s tweet on September 15:

“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

Legally, while the Court asked for revised briefs, they will likely find the case ‘moot’ giving deference to the President.  I continue to believe as a nation we are a light to the world and should continue to welcome refugees and immigrants.  As a Christian, cutting off persecuted Christians from the refuge of the United States is awful but lawful.

3.  The White House reducing the number of refugees to historic lows is one of the legal stories missed this week.

On Wednesday the White House projected it will lower the number of refugees to 45,000 for the new fiscal year beginning October 1.  While the average has been 95,000, President Reagan responded to a refugee crisis by setting the cap at 140,000 and President George H.W. Bush at 142,000.

At a time when the world suffers from unprecedented humanitarian crisis, this is a strong message of nationalism.  As a Christian who supports persecuted Christians around the globe, this is a terrible closing of our borders to their cries.  As Scott Arbeiter, the President of World Relief stated:

“Refugees are widows, orphans, and victims of rape, torture, religious persecution, and political oppression.  They flee the very regimes and terror the U.S. is fighting against. These are individuals whom God specifically calls us in Scripture to care for and serve.”

4.  The 50% increase in non-criminal deportations announced this week is one of the legal stories missed.

On Thursday ICE announced a 38% increase in deportations.  While ICE is targeting criminals, they announced a 50% increase in the arrest of aliens-at-large, the term for undocumented individuals with no record.  Nearly 13,000 individuals have been separated from families for deportation.

5.  A New Orleans Court upholding the crackdown on Sanctuary Cities is one of the legal stories missed.

Texas passed a law last Spring which criminalized any police or other official who refused to jail someone without lawful status.  Critics argue this is a violation of the 4th Amendment, proponents argue it is a lawful requirement to work with Federal officials in the exercise of normal police duties.

In August a Judge temporarily halted the law.  That was appealed to the Federal Court in New Orleans.  On Monday that court unanimously upheld the law.  A fuller hearing will take place in November but for now Trump’s promise to crack down on Sanctuary Cities is moving forward.   Effectively anyone without lawful status stopped for a traffic violation can be detained in a local jail in Texas and any law enforcement official who does not comply is subject to criminal penalties.

6.  Puerto Rico and the Jones Act is one of the legal stories missed this week.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act) is an antiquated protectionist policy inhibiting free trade.  Senator John McCain has argued for its repeal.  On Thursday he introduced a bill.

Under the Act only ships made in the US and owned by the US are allowed to enter the port of Puerto Rico.  No foreign aid or other aid not meeting the criteria could offer badly needed help.  For years the Act has contributed to the national debt of Puerto Rico, but now under immense humanitarian crisis it stood as a barrier to life itself.  Many celebrities and the Mayor of New York stepped in to offer immediate assistance, while the U.S. government was slow to respond.

Senator McCain along with other Republicans sent the President a letter demanding the lifting of The Jones Act to provide Aid.  On Wednesday the President stated his reluctance based on friends of his in the shipping industry:

“We’re thinking about that,” he told reporters. “But we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people who work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now.”

Under mounting pressure, the President lifted the restrictions for ten days.  While golfing Saturday he fired off 18 tweets attacking Puerto Ricans.

“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.  They want everything to be done for them…”

Some of the slow response to Puerto Rico may be due to a new poll released this week indicating 63% of Americans under 30 don’t know Puerto Ricans are citizens (47% across all age ranges).  As someone married to a Puerto Rican, this does not surprise me.    But it does pain me.  The response to Americans in Houston and Florida has represented the best of us, while our response to Puerto Rico has represented some of the worst of us.

7.  The SUCCEED Act is one of the legal stories missed this week.

The hopes of dreamers, DACA recipients, dies this next week as the deadline for renewing applications expires on October 5.  The bi-partisan DREAM Act of 2017 introduced in the Senate and House in July faces a much stricter alternative introduced Monday by Republicans.  The SUCCEED Act would grant a path to citizenship after 15 years if one remains gainfully employed and does not ever require public assistance.  The Act also prohibits petitioning for family members.

A new poll released this week shows 86% of Americans favor protection for DACA recipients.  Let’s hope Congress listens to people over politics.  I had the privilege this week of helping a young student who leads the campus ministry for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.  Like many DACA recipients he leads, works, volunteers and impacts his community.  He is in great fear of being deported.  We can extend his time under DACA, but any long-term hope requires Congress passing a DREAM ACT.

All the legal stories highlight the need for Christians to be salt and light in the world.  As we grow more polarized by race, ethnicity, politics and economics, we need to follow Jesus and love our neighbor.

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2 Comments

  1. sherry on October 2, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    I was wondering how to go about protecting this country from terrorists if we are to show compassion to the poor and needy who want to enter the US.



    • Bruce Strom on October 2, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Important question! We must continue to rigorously vet those coming. We do that, and I’m glad we do. Process takes at least 18 months and involves a lot of personal interviews, cost, and several government agencies doing background checks. If something doesn’t line up – they don’t come. That’s how it should be. But since most refugees are women and children and a good portion are persecuted Christians in Muslim countries, I don’t like abandoning them when we have successfully relocated refugees for decades without incident. The refugee program is the hardest way to enter the country. Much easier is regular visas – like the terrorist of 9/11 – or walking across our unguarded northern border since it is pretty easy to get into Canada. Above all we pray. Thanks Sherry!