The Executive Orders

With about three weeks under his belt as the President, Donald Trump has signed numerous executive orders and memorandums, some of which have passed through rather unnoticed, while other controversial ones have garnished criticism. 

Some of his first executive actions came on Jan. 23, NPR reports, just a few days after his inauguration. The first reinstated the “Mexico City” policy, which bars federal agencies from funding international nongovernmental organizations that perform or advocate for abortion. On the same day, he also signed a memorandum that officially withdraws the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnerships—although the US’ participation was never passed by Congress under the Obama Administration—and one that institutes a federal hiring freeze, except in the case of military hiring. 

A day later, Trump signed an order that initiated the start of a couple weeks’ worth of controversial executive actions. With this order, he approved of the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, which had been halted under the Obama administration amid outcries from environmental and Native American activist organizations. 

The New Yorker describes how this executive order and the corollary leaked memos controlling the Environmental Protection Agency’s communication with the press and regulating ability hints at a new era of lax environmental laws and speaks to the fears of activists concerned with degrading practices like fracking and rising emissions. 

One of Trump’s more notable executive actions, as the New York Times reports, came on Jan. 25 when he signed an order commanding the government to begin the construction of a wall that will separate the US from Mexico. To accompany this executive order, Trump also directed Homeland Security and the Justice departments to stop federal funds from flowing into Sanctuary Cities. 

With the signing in of the wall, Trump signals that he intends to make good on one of his more prominent campaign promises to stem the tide of undocumented immigration. According to the Washington Post, Trump announced, “We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States . . . Beginning today, the United States gets control of its borders,” as he signed. 

A day later, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled his visit to the US, which would have made him one of the first foreign ministers to visit Trump’s White House. 

On Jan. 27, two days later, Trump once again outdid himself with an executive order that barred the entry of immigrants and visitors from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. Refugee admissions were suspended for 120 days, while Syrians refugees were barred indefinitely. The order, obviously, sparked controversy and ignited protests across the country, at airports, universities, and city centers. 

In Chattanooga, over 1,000 people gathered at Coolidge Park on the evening of Feb. 1 for a vigil to express solidarity with those affected by the travel ban, the Times Free Press reported. Bridge Refugee Services, which helps to resettle over 100 refugees in the Chattanooga area each year, organized the event. 

Since its enactment, the order has received criticism for being both asinine and possibly unconstitutional. For one, as The New Yorker reports, since 9/11 all twelve terrorists who have carried out deadly attacks on US soil have either been US citizens or legal residents (meaning, not from any of those seven countries) nor were any of the 9/11 attackers from any of the seven countries. 

On Feb. 3, a Federal District Court in Seattle overturned the ban, allowing travelers from the seven countries to enter the US. In response, Trump tweeted Saturday, “the opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”