Although many have different opinions on the Trump candidacy, the question both supporters and opponents are asking is whether America’s new president will keep the promises he made during the campaign season. Thus far, it seems that the president has been quite productive, sticking to the military motto of going “above and beyond the call of duty.” According to the White House website’s release on Trump’s first week of action, there have been “15 Presidential Actions to begin fulfilling his promises to Make America Great Again.” Though some of these have been simply staff and cabinets changes, four executive actions stand out as particularly significant.
Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline Memorandums
Though contested during the previous presidency, it seems that the final phases of the TransCanada and Dakota Access pipelines are on their way to completion. Though the Keystone XL pipeline spans from Alberta to Nebraska and the Dakota Access pipeline reaches from North Dakota to Illinois, both orders state that the projects cannot build on private property unless it is legally acquired. According to the executive order’s section on private property, “Nothing in this memorandum alters any Federal, State, or local process…necessary to secure access from an owner of private property to construct the pipeline.” “Land or an interest in land for the pipeline and facilities described herein may only be acquired consistently with the Constitution and applicable State laws.” These clauses in the pipeline memorandums seem to be respecting the protests held last year against the protests against water source contaminations. Hopefully, the completion of both will decrease fuel prices and lessen tensions the U.S. has with the Middle Eastern countries from which it purchases oil.
The U.S./Mexico Border Wall
A noteworthy hallmark of the campaign season was the promise of a wall along the southern border of the U.S. On Jan. 25, POTUS enacted the executive order: “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.” Between details on tightening border security and expediting the deportation process is the “construction of a physical wall on the southern border.” The Action is similar to the Secure Fence Act of 2006 enacted by the George W. Bush presidency, which was partially funded, leaving a double-layered wall of chain link along the Mexico border unfinished. According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the wall will be paid for by a 50 percent tax increase on 20 percent of Mexican imports. In theory, the plan seems simple and straightforward as the campaign promises. However, I personally am unsure if Mexican imports will remain in demand if they have their prices boosted more. (If you think people are having second thoughts on Chipotle guacamole now, wait until it’s nearly four dollars). While there may be some advantages to a border wall, the order given to make it so seems too simplistic.
Pending Repeal of The Affordable Care Act
Admittedly, the wording of the executive order on, “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal” is a bit vague. Beginning with its “pending” status, Sections 2-5 begin with, “To the maximum extent permitted by law…” However, Section 1 clarifies the intention and end goal of the order: a repeal of the Affordable Care Act to create a more “free and open healthcare market.” In short, this order does not say what is replacing the old national healthcare plan, only that it is on its way out. Though the vagueness is befuddling, hopefully the new plan enacted will either utilize lower premiums or make privatized health care more affordable by eliminating a large, problematic competitor.
The “Muslim Ban”
Under the title “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” this executive order places a 90-day travel ban on individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and a 120-day bar on incoming refugees from any country. The order does not specifically say that all incoming Muslims are banned, but it does preface the previous actions by stating that it,
“should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law… The United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
The order does not exclude foreign nationals on diplomatic visas, those with treaty organization visas, traveling UN workers or employees of multinational companies. Additionally, the order prioritizes “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.”
This last order is particularly problematic. Not only was the order only available through news agencies, and not on the White House website, but it does not clarify what will happen to U.S. citizens currently living in the restricted countries. Also, the order doesn’t make exceptions for those individuals from the seven countries that are already living in the U.S. with family members still overseas, and with the sudden dismissal of Attorney General Sally Yates for working against the legislation, the decisions surrounding this order seem not only rash, but unconstitutional to boot. In Trump’s strive to “Make America Great Again,” this is an area where the POTUS should take the advice of his predecessor’s 2008 slogan and “Change.”
Quotes and information taken from whitehouse.gov.