Expediency has been the play of choice for the White House during these first few weeks. The campaign for President Trump included promises to “build the wall” and “Make America Great Again.”
Before going any further, there is a difference between executive orders and presidential memorandums. The former is action taken directly from the president’s desk and enacted into policy, and the latter are directives for the angle that agencies should take to address specific issues stated in the memos.
The 120 day ban on refugees and immigrants from Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen stemming from the executive order titled by the president: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” has lead to a groundswell of protestors across the nation. This order was part of the policy brainchild created by Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer used the term “extreme vetting” to describe the intent of the executive order.
According to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” 15,000 students have been denied re-entry into the country due to this order. These are students, who in some cases have enjoyed residency in the U.S. for as long as eight years and their subsequent work could be null and void as a result.
Ironically, the nations in this ban, while they are labeled as threats have not produced attacks on United States soil.
President Trump also signed another executive order to ramp up security forces for the U.S./Mexico border with plans to hire 5,000 to10,000 more border patrol officers, strip federal grants from designated “sanctuary cities,” end the “catch and release” policy, and to begin the policy groundwork for building the wall that the president rallied his supporters behind during the campaign.
Sanctuary cities are municipalities that have agreed to take in undocumented workers, refugees, and allow them to live in the US without fear of deportation. The Trump administration now has leveraged federal funding against these municipalities.
Catch and release was a policy that allowed Border Patrol agents to take those crossing the border illegally and release them pending a hearing.
In addition to creating what the Trump administration deems to be safe borders, the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline are now slated to be constructed again, despite the detrimental effects on the environment. Three presidential memorandums came out of this order. First, the environmental and manufacturing permits should be streamlined in order to allow construction sooner. Secondly, the Commerce Department has 180 days to maximize usage of steel produced in the U.S.
Deregulation is also at the top of the list as a new presidential memo has stated that any agency who proposes regulation must first target two regulations to be eliminated beforehand.
With these executive orders and memos, it’s a fair question to ask how is a president able to use his power to push an agenda so rapidly.
According to the Washington Post, although these orders are being written and signed into law, the fact that several directives, including the travel ban were written without consultation from the departments that are affected subsequently hamper their implementation.
Additionally, the Justice Department has to sign off on these orders for form and legality. In the case of Sally Yates, acting attorney general, refusal to sign off on the ban lead to her firing on January 30.
In an age of “alternative facts” and “post-truth,” it is clear that the Trump administration will test the federal courts, and the resolve of those who oppose the direction of the White House.