President Donald Trump’s travel ban is sparking protests nationwide and prompting a mostly negative response from the global community.
World leadershave called the policy “insulting,” “cruel” and “divisive.” Many of the seven countries affected have released statements, as well as Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and Turkey. Australia was one of the few countries to defend Trump’s executive order.
“This resonates around the world in a way I don’t think Americans have fully taken on board. The United States of America is a beacon for the whole world,” said Charlie Sennott, director of the GroundTruth Project, on Boston Public Radio today. “This is not who we are.”
The temporary ban bars travel from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for 90 days and closes the border to all refugees for 120 days. It bans refugees from Syria indefinitely.
The president has denied claims the ban is racist, saying the order is designed to protect national security interests.
“Donald Trump can say all day long this isn’t about a ban on Muslims,” Sennott said. “It is, and it really needs to be confronted.”
Critics have been quick to note Muslim-majority countries that have been excluded from the ban are some of those tied to Donald Trump through his business.
For example, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey are excluded from the ban; Trump has golf courses in the UAE and two luxury towers in Turkey.
Sennott also pointed out the administration’s ties to Saudi Arabia.
“15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Saudi Arabia has deep oil connections with people like Rex Tillerson, and Big Oil is absolutely in play in who we choose to be one of these countries [affected by the ban].”
Sennott said the order may backfire if ISIS decides to use it as a recruiting tool-- proof that the West mistreats its Muslim residents.
“This plays into a narrative that Islamic extremists-- particularly ISIS-- around the world want to conflate their war, and say that the United States of America really is against all Muslims,” he said. “This feeds the fire of that argument and I really worry about that.”
Many American citizens see the order as a betrayal of national values. They say the U.S. was founded on the principles of freedom of religion and immigration has been a bedrock of the country.
“The world is watching, and the world is observing that America has gone back on what was one of our greatest strengths,” Sennott said. “I think we really eroded and hurt our place in the world when we did that.”
Charlie Sennott is news analyst here at WGBH, where he also heads up The Ground Truth project. To hear his interview in its entirety, click on the audio link above.