Executive orders cause controversy

By Clarissa Hinshaw

DeKALB — President Donald Trump has signed 16 executive actions since students and staff watched as he was sworn into office Jan. 20, according to WhiteHouse.gov.

Among these actions are executive orders, presidential memorandums and a proclamation. Some of the most controversial actions include an order to ban “radical Islamic terrorists” from travel and the proposal of a plan to build a wall on the southern border.

Trump signed an executive order Saturday banning refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Trump said this will strengthen the U.S.’s borders and enhance public safety, according to a Jan. 28 CNN article.

“I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” Trump said. “We don’t want them here.”

Graduate law student Aaron Novy said an executive order is a document the president signs to direct a particular policy and to get around congressional roadblocks. Memorandums are not as assertive and are not always in the Federal Register but can direct a department or agency into action without prior congressional approval, according to a Jan. 24 USA Today article. Some actions have to go through particular agencies for approval.

For example, Trump signed an executive order for “border security” Wednesday to direct Congress to come up with funding for a wall on the southern border, according to WhiteHouse.gov. During his presidential campaign, Trump said he was going to make Mexico pay for the wall, but Mexico has refused. He has since floated the ideas of using taxpayer dollars and expecting reimbursement from Mexico as well as putting a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports, according to Jan. 25 Roll Call and Jan. 27 CNN articles, respectively.

“Some things are harder to do [via executive order],” Novy said. “President Trump [is] trying to find money to fund this wall he’s trying to build [which] is going to be kind of difficult, because Congress is going to have to fund that project.”

Progression of the Dakota Access Pipeline

On Jan. 24, Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a review of the Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil line planned for almost 1,200 miles spanning from Illinois through North Dakota.

In the memorandum, Trump said the pipeline construction will make money and create jobs. This plan has been controversial with protesters claiming it will destroy historic landmarks and contaminate drinking water, according to a Jan. 24 CNN article.

Eric Dannenmaier, College of Law dean, said the plan must legally be evaluated for environmental impacts because part of the pipeline will cross waterways that are protected by the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act.

“I would trust that the Army Corps of Engineers, which the new president has charged with reviewing the decision, will carefully consider the impacts on the cultural and spiritual values and rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as well as the environmental impacts that this project will have on national water resources and on our broader energy policy,” Dannenmaier said.

In 2013, Dannenmaier was appointed by former President Barack Obama to serve on the Joint Public Advisory Commission for Environmental Cooperation. He said, in addition to getting approved by the Corps of Engineers for the water crossings, the project must be evaluated by federal agencies for historic, social, health and environmental impacts among others.

Banning funding for family planning services

On Jan. 23, Trump signed a memorandum reinstating the Mexico City policy, which halts funding for non-governmental international organizations that offer or promote abortion as a family planning option, according to a Jan. 23 The Hill article. However, none of the funding given to these organizations is used for the actual abortion procedures due to the Helms amendment, which bans U.S. tax dollars from being used on international abortions.

Eleanor Evins, NIU Women’s Rights Alliance secretary, said the memorandum reflects a lack of interest in maternal and population health worldwide. She feels this will hurt low-income women overseas and lead to similar results in the U.S.

“Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City policy demonstrates his lack of knowledge of women’s healthcare and how federal dollars are utilized for maternal health overseas,” Evins said.

Clarissa Hinshaw is a staff writer. She can be reached at [email protected].