While the media and protestors have pushed largely false narratives on President Trump’s executive order on immigration — calling it a “Muslim ban” (40+ Muslim-majority countries aren’t included in the order) and unprecedentedly un-American (President Obama restricted immigration from certain Middle East countries too) — certain criticism has been legitimate.
First, it’s pretty clear that the Department of Homeland Security had no idea how to implement this order, so they defaulted to stopping all travel by non-U.S. citizens from these countries. This included green card holders who have permanent status and jobs in America. Multiple reports emerged of families being kept apart.
On Sunday morning, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the order “doesn’t include green card holders going forward.” He also implied it was never meant to include them. Why did it?
Because Trump and his team refused to communicate with the “swamp monsters.”
His senior team reportedly didn’t even communicate with his Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly (whose department had to implement the order). He also didn’t seek advice from White House lawyers. Furthermore, he didn’t ask any advice from foreign policy leaders in Congress.
Trump didn’t get advice from people he appointed, much less other people with experience on these issues. His gut instinct to ignore people from “the swamp” landed him in this political mess and media firestorm. The insiders could and would have saved him by adding some wording and direction that provided clarity to Trump’s intent.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said, “In the future, such policy changes should be better coordinated with the agencies implementing them and with Congress to ensure we get it right.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said, “We all share a desire to protect the American people, but this executive order has been poorly implemented, especially with respect to green card holders.”
Here is a simple piece of advice: before signing a law or an order, talk to the people who will have to implement it on your behalf.
For better or worse, the President cannot act on his own. Even with executive orders, appointees, and career federal workers within the different departments have to implement those orders. Trump has tapped into a populist nerve with his desire to “drain the swamp,” and Washington could certainly use some major reform. But right now, Trump still needs many in the swamp to implement his policies.
If the implementers of the law do not know the law’s intent, there is chaos. That is what we saw this weekend, and we should all hope that Trump and his team have learned their lesson.