In this week’s blog, Jamie Mercer from Youth Focus: North East looks at Donald Trump and the executive orders signed that threaten public harmony around the world.
In January, just days after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America, Leader of the Free World, Donald Trump signed an executive order – since overturned – banning entry to the US for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. This includes dual nationality holders, such as British citizens, who also have Iraqi or Iranian passports and are travelling from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The order also halted the US refugee programme for four months and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from entering the country.
President Trump explained that the order came amidst a need for America to maintain ‘strong borders’ and that ‘extreme vetting’ to keep ‘radical Islamic terrorists’ out of the US was necessary.
A petition calling for Donald Trump to be prevented from making a planned state visit to Britain has now reached over 1.5 million signatures.
On 6 March, President Trump signed a new travel directive ban, this time excluding Iraq, which was covered in the previous seven-nation order. The latest executive order, which includes a 12-day ban on all refugees, is due to come into effect on 16 March.
Instead of dividing the country, the executive orders appear to have united the world, sparking a global wave of protests, including a demonstration in Newcastle, which formed part of a string of action across the United Kingdom.
The North East of England has a proven track record of opposing racism and discrimination. Two years ago, Pegida UK held their first rally in the country, attracting about 400 demonstrators from across Europe. At the same time, a counter-demonstration organised by Newcastle Unites saw some 2,000 people come together to promote tolerance, integration, community, and respect. Despite having one of the lowest levels of immigration, the North East prides itself in fighting racism. After all, Show Racism the Red Card was founded in North Tyneside.
Managing and delivering a political youth work programme over the last two years has been fascinating. From widespread indifference at the General Elections in 2015 to Brexit and the Trump Presidential announcement, there appears to be a larger number of under-25s who are taking more notice, consuming more media, and taking action against the injustices they see around them and in the news.
At Youth Focus: North East, we deliver a range of community cohesion and empowerment programmes, specifically looking at the areas of health and wellbeing with our Wellbeing Challenges as well as identifying local issues and creating joint solutions to make positive changes in communities through our Young Changers NE programme.
If the Trump protests have taught me anything, it’s that the voices and actions of the many can drastically drown out and outweigh a vocal minority. If you feel strongly about what you see happening (or not happening!) around you, then you can take action. You can protest. You can campaign. You can lobby. You have the power to make a change.
Jamie Mercer, Youth Focus: North East