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Controversy around immigration has been a prominent part of United States politics for decades, but it has escalated in the past year since the presidential election.

Several of Donald Trump’s most distinct promises on the campaign trail centered around immigration and travel, including his desire to build a wall along the Mexican border, to prevent Syrian refugees from entering the country while evicting those who already reside here, and to ban the majority of foreign Muslims from coming into the country. Since assuming office on January 20, he has attempted to enact a travel ban on two occasions. The effects of this travel ban would include reducing overall immigration to the U.S., which would be detrimental to the country as a whole.  

President Trump has attempted to implement a “Muslim ban” twice. On January 27—just a week into his presidency—his administration declared that it would temporarily prohibit refugees from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the U.S. The seven targeted nations all have Muslim-majority populations. On January 28, Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn stopped the order after hearing testimony from lawyers of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of two Iraqi nationals. On February 2, restrictions were relaxed for green card holders; on February 9, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decreed that the block on the ban should continue; and on February 13, the federal district court judge in Seattle refused the President’s request to delay the lawsuit. However, this setback did not appear to dissuade the President’s cause, as a new travel ban was released on March 6.

The most recent travel ban is similar to the original with a few modifications. All refugees are prevented from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and visas for travelers from all of the previous countries other than Iraq have been prohibited. An appeal for more drastic examination standards is still present in the new ban. However, the language is more clear, which has resulted in less of an uproar. Visas are unavailable only for travellers looking for new ones, while those possessing green cards or already accepted visas are not affected. Legal residents are permitted to leave and reenter the country. Even with these new edits, the new ban was blocked by a federal court in Hawaii and a federal judge in Maryland on March 15 and 16, respectively. The Supreme Court, however, allowed the ban to take effect pending an appeal to the Court. Despite the changes made to the new order, many Americans are displeased, and the rest of the world’s view of America remains tainted.

Historically, the United States has been a land of opportunity for immigrants. The nation was, in fact, founded by European immigrants. The sentiments expressed by President Trump during the last election cycle have resulted in these travel bans, which have altered the atmosphere of the country at its core. Many immigrants no longer feel welcome here. Additionally, many parents will not want to send their children to study in a place with intense anti-immigrant sentiment. This will inevitably reduce international enrollment, and as a consequence, our universities, among other institutions, will feature far less diverse student bodies. Our political sphere and open dialogues will lack a wide range of perspectives and voices necessary for our nation to progress forward.

While in 2016 tourist numbers rose to match the figures before 9/11, tourism has declined severely since the instigation of the first travel ban. Despite the Trump administration’s denials, it is apparent that all of the countries targeted are majority Muslim. The Trump administration has stated that the purpose of the ban is to protect the country from terrorism and claims the ban is not discriminatory because it does not directly reference a specific religion. However, not a single person from of any of the countries mentioned in the executive order has caused or directed any deadly attack. Furthermore, the ban exempts countries in which President Trump has business interests, including Saudi Arabia, where fifteen of the nineteen terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks come from.

It is obvious that the bans’ intentions are discriminatory. This contradicts one of the largest attractions of this country: freedom of religion. The ban on travel, aside from obviously deterring people coming from the banned countries, sends a message to the world that this right, enumerated within our Constitution, does not truly exist here. The ban destroys the American Dream.

The ban is not only detrimental to the people who would potentially come here. It is detrimental to the country’s economy and wellbeing. Multiple industries thrive thanks to immigrants. In 2011, the Partnership for a New American Economy, a union of mayors and business leaders backing immigration alterations to increase jobs for Americans, released a report concerning immigration and companies belonging to the Fortune 500, an association which constitutes two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product. The report revealed that over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were established by immigrants or their children; the income produced by them is greater than the gross domestic product of every country in the world excluding China, Japan, and the U.S. itself. Immigrants and their children are behind seven of the ten most valuable brands in the world, including Apple, Google, and McDonald’s. Immigrants contribute to the economy proportionately more than their share of the population. The absence of immigrant workers would be economically catastrophic to the country as a whole.

The Trump administration’s travel bans have had a negative impact on immigration, and the potential economic consequences could be disastrous. Above all, these bans are unconstitutional and defy the very principles for which our country stands.