President Donald Trump probably doesn’t lay awake pondering how he’s perceived across the country in “the other” Washington, the solid blue state he wrote off early in his campaign. But his administration is surely taking notice today.
The irresponsible immigration order Trump signed Friday triggered a tsunami of weekend protests around the country, including at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and on the Tacoma Tideflats. It brought Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to Sea-Tac, where six foreign travelers were detained Saturday, to condemn the president’s “unjustifiable cruelty.”
Then on Monday morning, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Washington would take the lead nationally by immediately suing the president, seeking to invalidate key provisions of Trump’s directive.
Ferguson was more lawyerly than the thousands of placard-toting Puget Sounders, his emotions less raw. But they all proclaimed the same message, as unified as any 12th Man rally: Washington will not be an idle witness to tyranny.
“In a courtroom, it is not the loudest voice that prevails. It is the constitution,” Ferguson said at morning press conference. “In our view, the president is not adhering to the constitution.”
Trump has never been one to speak softly, as President Teddy Roosevelt once advised, but the former reality TV showman is pleased to carry the proverbial big stick. Now he’s swinging it wildly after only a week in office, kneecapping some of the world’s most desperate people as well as business professionals and other overseas travelers.
Few would find fault with the title of Executive Order 7 — “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” — and the public should expect that Trump would follow through on his campaign promise to vet immigrants more thoroughly.
But the 45th president acted rashly to block citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days. He acted with callous disregard for women and children, the old and infirm, by slamming the door on all refugees for 120 days, and on Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Either he didn’t consult U.S. allies, military leaders and the diplomatic corps, or he didn’t care what they told him.
Trump is using the nativist cry for homeland security as a fig leaf to cover defiance of the constitution and its protection of certain unalienable rights, including religious liberty. With a straight face, he will pretend to honor that same founding document this week when he introduces a Supreme Court nominee pledged as a strict constructionist.
Washington is hardly alone in its rebuke of Trump. Around America, countless ordinary citizens, national security experts and elected leaders from both major parties have spoken out. Seventeen state attorneys general released a statement Sunday calling the president’s immigration action "un-American and unlawful."
Perhaps the most deplorable impact from Trump’s order may fall on thousands of Iraqi nationals: interpreters, advisers and others who put their necks on the line for the same U.S. security interests the president purports to defend.
Many brave Iraqis have helped keep U.S. military personnel alive, at serious peril to themselves and their families. They already struggle to obtain a limited number of special immigrant visas to move to America, due to congressional parsimony in funding the program. Trump has now made their quest immensely more complicated.
Talk to any JBLM infantry soldier deployed to the Middle East, and he’ll describe the amazing loyalty and sacrifice shown by native language translators. Talk to soldiers like Blake Hall, a former Stryker platoon leader who fought in Mosul a decade ago. His unit’s interpreter, an Iraqi teenager nicknamed Roy, was killed by a bomb. Feeling indebted to his dead friend, Hall helped his Iraqi family resettle in the U.S. in 2013.
“I do take comfort in that, thank God,” Hall later told a TNT reporter.
Trump’s order calls to mind shameful times in history when our country has leaned on the aid of others, then cast them aside. The Stockbridge Indian tribes, for example, fought alongside colonialists during the American Revolution, only to be dispossessed of their land a half century later.
Just because it’s happened before doesn’t make it any less offensive today.
The Trump administration has already softened part of its immigration order, clarifying the rights of green card holders to return to the U.S. It needs to drop the rest of it, go back to the drawing board and take time to craft a border security plan that doesn’t flout the constitution or estrange millions of people.
If the president doesn’t wake up quickly, he should brace for the “other” Washington to keep making noise. He’ll soon learn that Seahawks home games aren’t the only place where our voices are raised and cannot be ignored.