Senior White House adviser and Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon defied suggestions from Department of Homeland Security lawyers, according to a CNN report, and personally convinced the president to include green card holders in the executive order that placed a travel ban on refugees and immigrants from seven countries in the Middle East.
It is fairly unprecedented for a non-elected official to have such sway over the president and policy-making, but the fact that Steve Bannon personally overruled Homeland Security and their legal interpretation of the order is a testament to his influence over Trump.
Last Friday the president signed his controversial executive order effective immediately, causing chaos at national airports across the country, as hundreds were either barred from boarding flights, detained or sent back to the country they arrived from. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen were the seven countries listed as part of a 90-day freeze on entering the U.S., and a 120-day hold was put on the admission of all refugees. A permanent ban on Syrian refugees was also placed.
Before Steve Bannon overruled DHS, the document was determined legally by Homeland Security to not include the green card holders. CNN reported the following.
“Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized, government officials said.
“Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — did not apply to people with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders.”
Though people with long-term or permanent work and travel visas in the U.S., or “green cards” as they’re referred to, are not legally citizens, they are afforded the same rights and protections of due process under the Constitution. The subsequent backlash from the dozens of detentions of legal green card holders and the cry of protesters across the country led Saturday to a Brooklyn Federal Court ruling, partially halting the president’s initiative.
Though Steve Bannon initially overruled Homeland Security and opted to include green card holders in the president’s immigration ban, it is unclear moving forward how the order will be interpreted. The following is according to The New York Times.
“The judge’s ruling blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.”
Moments after the New York Federal Court ruling, a similar protection was made in Virginia District Court, protecting certain people affected at Dulles airport.
Steve Bannon has been a controversial figure since joining the Trump team during the 2016 campaign. The former editor of Breitbart News, a right-wing publication that he once deemed the “platform for the alt-right,” Bannon, along with pollster Kellyanne Conway, have long been credited with turning Trump’s campaign around and securing his victory. The two have now joined the inner circle of the president as top advisers and strategists.
Steve Bannon ignoring the advice of Homeland Security legal analysts and moving to include green cards has been speculated to either be a blunder due to inexperience or a carefully crafted publicity move. Bannon and the Trump team have proven to be experts at controlling the narrative in the media, the same media that they refer to as “the opposition party.”
In fact, this suspicion was first mused by Kevin Drum of Mother Jones. He interprets Steve Bannon having overruled Homeland Security as “malice.” He reported the following.
“In cases like this, the smart money is usually on incompetence, not malice. But this looks more like deliberate malice to me. Bannon wanted turmoil and condemnation. He wanted this executive order to get as much publicity as possible. He wanted the ACLU involved. He thinks this will be a PR win.
“Liberals think the same thing. All the protests, the court judgments, the press coverage: this is something that will make middle America understand just what Trump is really all about. And once they figure it out, they’ll turn on him.”
Whether the order will be deemed unconstitutional remains to be seen, but Steve Bannon has proven to be even more influential and powerful now that he works in the Oval Office.
[Featured Image by Kevin Hagen/AP Images]