Trump Therapy 9.1 -- Not Not a Muslim Ban
What do you call an executive order that bans refugees from a Muslim majority country from entering -- but make an exception for "persecuted religious minorities".(1) What do you call an executive order that prioritizes "persecuted religious minorities" from Muslim majority countries one the complete ban on refugees from that country is lifted.(2)
It may not technically be a "Muslim ban", but it sure looks like it, when everyone but Muslims are eligible for "waivers" based on religious persecution. from seven Muslim majority countries.
Trump is especially concerned about the plight of Syrian Christians, whom he says have
...been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.
There are, however, two problems with Trump's concerns. First off, they are baseless. While Syrian Christian refugees are persecuted even in refugee camps as religious minorities, very few of the Christian refugees are in those camps. Most of them have taken shelter within Christian communities in Lebanon, and they are just as eligible for consideration of resettling in the USA as any other refugees. Indeed, UN refugee coordinators have even gone to Christian Churches in Jordan to help Christian refugees to register. (3)
The second problem is that his Executive Order prohibits all immigration from Syria indefinitely. Period. The "persecuted religious minority" exemption does not seem to apply. (4)
(1) EO #13769 Section 5 (e)
Not withstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution,
(2) EO #13769 Section 5 (b)
Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.
(3) From the Times piece
All who are registered with the U.N. refugee agency are eligible for consideration — and most Christian refugees have access to register and those who have not can readily do so. The U.N.H.C.R. representative in Jordan notes that only 15 percent of all Syrian refugees in Jordan are in camps, and emphasizes that registration teams have visited churches to assist Christians with the registration process. In Lebanon an even smaller proportion of refugees are in “tented communities” and the term “camp” is strictly avoided because of long-standing political sensitivities.
(4) EO #13769 Section 5 (c)
Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.
Because the Syrian exclusion of refugees is not temporary, it does not appear that Sections 5(b) and 5(e) would apply.
Note: the executive order quoted above has not yet received a number, apparently, but the previous one was 13768, so...